Westley Wins Again


Senior Lexi Westley races to 33rd place in the Nike Cross Nationals in early December. (Photo courtesy of Lexi Westley)

Aidan McHenry, Sports Editor

Warren Hills Cross Country talent Lexi Westley capped off an incredible season by placing 33rd out of 202 runners in the Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon in early December.

The Nationals, a Nike-sponsored unofficial national championship for cross country, was established in 2004.

The competition does not allow runners to represent their high schools, so Westley had to represent herself.

Westley, a senior, worked hard all season and finished first in the Northeast Division 5000 meter in order to qualify for Nationals. She was one of only two runners at Nationals running the race from the Northeast.

Westley said she did not start running cross country until her sophomore year, after a successful track season, which she originally ran to stay in shape for soccer.

“After finishing as the top freshman in the state in the two-mile, I came out for the team just to try it,” Westley said. “It was the hardest sport I had ever done.”

That season she finished fourth in the state and had made a name for herself in New Jersey in only her first season of cross country at Warren Hills.

Westley said everything changed once she won her first state title in the 2-mile; colleges started contacting her and she began to realize her dream of playing a Division I sport.

“Next fall, I will be at the University of Wisconsin. The team is ranked tenth in the nation, so I definitely have a lot to improve on if I want to be racing on the top seven,” Westley said.

The top seven are the best runners who will actually compete in the race for the team they represent.

Westley said her eating and workout schedule changed drastically once she realized her potential as a runner and she needed to sleep and drink more than ever before.

“I never thought I would wake up and look forward to going out on a run, or striving to dominate a killer workout,” she said. “It had taught me not only physical strength, but mental toughness, too.”

This all built up to her eventually qualifying for the highest level of cross country competition for high school runners.

“Leaving for Oregon was so crazy. It all felt like a dream, almost like I was waiting to wake up and it not be real,” Westley said. “Arriving to the hotel and seeing girls and boys who I had looked up to as runner was so shocking.”