Always one step ahead


The cross country team at Manatee has had a great season so far, with multiple meet wins and now preparing for the district meet right around the corner on Oct. 26. Out of the hardworking students on the team, two stand out and are busy qualifying for the state cross country meet. Spoken highly of by their teammates, sophomores Caroline Lehman and Paul Lespasio are always one step ahead.


Caroline Lehman

Lehman started running in sixth grade to keep her in shape for lacrosse season in the spring, continuing through seventh grade as well. She eventually became very invested in running, and now it is her soul sport.

“Yeah I do track then [spring] instead of lacrosse,” stated Lehman.

She also has big goals and dreams not only for this season, but for her future as well. Lehman wants to run for a college team after she graduates, and each mile is toward that goal. This year she is striving to be top three at states, as well as top sophomore to keep the title from top freshman from last year.

“Last year I got sixth, I want to be top sophomore. I was top freshman last year and I want to keep it.”

I’ve improved in both physical and mental aspects… like you know you’re going to be fine after a race and you shouldn’t stress about it.”

— Caroline Lehman

Working a lot to keep in shape, Lehman cross trains, often swimming or biking to keep her body healthy. In addition to this she also takes ice baths and does a lot of stretching.

“I go to Bruce a lot, like a lot,” said Lehman.

In order to perform well at states, Lehman has to  extend her season later than the rest of her teammates, but she believes all the hard work pays off.

“It’s really rewarding because we’ve worked hard for months and then to be able to go up there and compete is great.”


Paul Lespasio

Lespasio has been running for fun since Runners Club in elementary school, but has only been running competitive cross country since his freshman year.

I like to go fast”

— Paul Lespasio

After high school, Lespasio wants to go to college to run cross country, and works his best in order to get there. To him, going to states is just his hard work paying off.

“It would be fun to be on a big college team… running cross country with a lot of other guys, to just make friends and everything,” said Lespasio.

To prepare and keep healthy for the state meet, Lespasio runs a cool down mile after every work out and like Lehman, does a tremendous amount of stretching before and after. He also follows a work out strategy called tapering to make sure he feels good and is able to run his best race.

“I have to taper for states, which is basically toning down the training so that you can run your fastest race… toning it down to the point where it’s the same training just less so your body feels better when you race, so you can run your best race.”

Lespasio is enthusiastic about going to states, as every mile inspires him to run one more to achieve his goals.

“It’s exciting and it really motivates me, it makes me realize hard work pays off,” stated Lespasio.