PA Salute To Seniors: L.J. Westwood - Quaker Valley
What was your most memorable race/competition?
My most memorable race would probably be the 5k at the Red, White, and Blue Invite my senior year. I came into this race as a little known cross country runner from a small school. The goal was to run under 16:00 and I ended up running 15:50. I was able to mix it up with Alex Moran, Logan Steiner, and Brent Kennedy. I ended up getting 4th place overall at the race. This really boosted my confidence and made me feel like I was a decent XC runner.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
The biggest competition that we faced would have to be at the Baldwin Invitational. Quaker Valley is an AA school, so when we went up to Baldwin, we would be facing all AAA schools. It was fun to compete with the AAA schools. Our coach has always wanted us to be the best, no matter the classification, and at Baldwin we could prove how good we were and boost our confidence. Plus, it was always nice to get smiley face cookies haha.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
The one accomplishment that stands out the most is the XC team championship that we won this year. It was pretty special to win that one my senior year after coming oh so close to winning for three years in a row. That win was even more special for me because I had mono and I really thought that I would let my team down. I ended up running the whole race with Matt Cooper and we finished 29th and 31st respectively. Even with me being sick, it was great to know that I could finish 3rd best on the team and still win the title in a landslide. There is no group of gentlemen that I would rather win this title with.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
The one thing that I would definitely change would be the year that I started running. I only joined the XC and track team my sophomore year. If I would have joined my freshman year, I think I would have gotten the hang of running a lot easier and faster.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult obstacles that I had to overcome was the mono that I had during XC season and the dislocated kneecap that I had during track season. It was very hard to have such high expectations for both seasons and fall short because things that I could not control. For both of these obstacles, I got very depressed and my friends and family were always there to pick me back up. When I dislocated my kneecap (in gym class) the doctors thought that my season would be done. I was able to come back a week before WPIALS and just gave races everything I had. I was very fortunate to be running at states and even more fortunate to win.
What will you miss the most?
The thing that I will miss the most is not only the friendship of my teammates, but of all the runners in Pa, especially AA. It was so nice to talk to any runner, without them being bothered by it. I think that AA has something special going for them and we really bonded this year as a collective group.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
My advice would be to never give up and always think positive. Also, you have to have a very short memory. Everyday is a new one and anything can happen. Running is a sport that can kill you mentally, so you need to forget the bad days as soon as possible. Finally, just believe in yourself and good things will come.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
From my coaches, I learned a lot of life lessons. The main one was to push through pain to finish what you have started. We had a lot of hard workouts (especially the morning after prom workout). For that workout our coach sat in a fold-up chair and yelled at us the whole run. My teammates and I wanted to punch him so badly, but in time we learned that his yelling showed that he cared. I am very grateful for my coach and all that he has done for us.
What are your college plans?
I plan on attending Bucknell University in the fall. I plan on majoring in some sort of business degree, like accounting or management.
Shout out to my coach, Mr. Noyes, for being the best coach in the state. He really works with so little and is able to produce so much. He was able to recruit Matt Cooper, Roy Hadfield, and I to the XC team from the soccer team.
Shout out to my Athletic Director and my trainer, Derek, for helping me through this rough spring season.
Shout out to Big Boi and his song “General Patton” for pumping me up before every race this year.
Finally, shout out to my parents and family for believing in me and for attending my races. I love you guys and I do not know where I would be without you.