Renewed fire pushed Bivens to the top

Boys Cross Country Player of the Year

by Aaron Garcia

Weddington senior Jonathan Bivens won the Class 3A Midwestern Regional and placed second at the state meet. (Aaron Garcia/UCW photo)

It’s not that Jonathan Bivens wasn’t competitive during his first three years as a cross country athlete. But he understood that once a race was over, his competitors became colleagues in the sport of running. Once he crossed the finish line, Bivens made a habit of seeking out the winner to congratulate him on the win and commend his speed in the race.

But this year, as a senior at Weddington, the tables turned.

“(The other runners) looked up to me, and it felt good (to have them) looking up to me,” Bivens said. “It was kind of cool.”

This season, Bivens gave his competition plenty of reasons to compliment him, as he asserted himself as the top cross country runner in Union County, and one of the best in the state. After winning the 3A Midwestern Regional with a time of 15 minutes, 45 seconds, Bivens placed second in the state meet with an effort of 15:55, just two seconds behind the winner, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons’ Steven Phillips.

But Bivens finished second to none in the race for Union County Weekly’s 2011 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award.

Bivens also notched wins at the Union County Championship (16:29), the Wendy’s Invitational (15:46) and the Weddington Invitational (15:38).

The success, said Bivens, came from a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I ran year-round this year, as opposed to other years where I would … I wouldn’t say ‘slack off,’ but in-between (track and cross country seasons), I didn’t keep up my running,” Bivens explained. “After spring track got out (last year), I ran all the way through the end of school and into the summer.

“I realized I wanted to do something really great instead of just sitting around watching TV,” Bivens said. “I liked (running) a lot more this year. I loved it always, but I like it more every year.”

Bivens said he entered the season knowing he’d be the team’s pacesetter but was pushed by his fellow Warriors as the season progressed.

“When I went into the season, I realized our guys were really good,” he said. “It kind of drove me to be better and set higher goals for myself.”

Such as winning the state championship, an achievement he narrowly missed. And this time, he had another runner to recognize for having a great effort: himself.

“I gave it everything I had,” Bivens said. “I’m pleased. I’m happy with second in the state.”

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