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Lawson named sophomore of the year

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By JOSH CLAYWELL

James Bleecker knew Alexandra Lawson was a once-in-a-lifetime type of talent when the Fort Knox coach met his new athlete for the first time.

But never was that more evident than during the Class 1-A state championship meet at the University of Kentucky May 20.

Lawson hadn’t been beaten in any of her races leading up to State, a remarkable run by any measure. The sophomore was seeded fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, but her times posted during the regular season were faster than any other competitor.

Lawson finished second, beaten by two-hundredths of a second by Model junior Melanie Welsing.

Neither Bleecker nor Lawson knew how she would respond, but it would have to happen quickly because there wasn’t much downtime between the 100 hurdles and the 100 dash.

“I was really nervous,” Lawson said. “I had to turn around and run the 100 dash and I already knew I was going to have to push myself if I wanted this title. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to bounce back; all I knew was that I was going to give it my all, hoping it was enough.”

Lawson bounced back incredibly well, winning her final three events.

Bleecker was amazed, saying he wasn’t sure if he could have displayed the same resolve as Lawson.

“I’m glad she took that the way she did,” Bleecker said. “A lot of 15-, 16-year-old girls, that would have set them back and maybe hurt their performance. She hadn’t been beaten all year. A lot of girls would be upset, but she just turned it right around as fuel and won her next three events. That was something else. That showed a lot of maturity as a 15-year-old. I don’t know if I could have done that at 15.”

Lawson didn’t let the setback spill over into her other events, winning the 100 in 12.60 seconds, the 300 hurdles in 46.45 and the 200 in 25.81.

It was an amazing turn of events for Lawson, who won the 3-A state title in the 300 hurdles as a freshman at North Hardin before transferring to Fort Knox High School.

“My favorite moment from the season would be coming back from the loss in the 100 hurdles and winning the rest of my events,” Lawson said. “The experience was, of course, different going against different teams than the 3-A teams last year, but it was the same. There was still competition and everyone there wanted to win. I refocused myself for my other events by remembering everything I was taught, everything I was told, as well as what I wanted.

“I wanted the state titles and told myself in order to get it that I needed to push myself harder.”

Bleecker has called Lawson a “coach’s dream,” and it’s easy to see why.

Lawson is a special athlete, and Bleecker felt fortunate to be able to coach her during her final season in Kentucky. Lawson has already moved to Centreville, Virginia, where she will likely spend her final two years of high school.

“I’ve been coaching for nine years and you get one or two of those kids every couple of years,” Bleecker said. “It’s just awesome. You feel like you’re part of something special.”

For her accomplishments, Lawson was voted the Area Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row as well as the Sophomore of the Year on The News-Enterprise All-Area Track & Field Team.

Lawson was a unanimous pick for both, receiving all seven possible first-place votes and 35 points.

In Athlete of the Year voting, Lawson beat Elizabethtown senior Leia Gregory (11 points) and Meade County junior Shelbie Williams. John Hardin junior Jordan Nelson got the other first-place vote.

In Sophomore of the Year voting, Elizabethtown’s Sarah Been was second with 23 points and one first-place vote and North Hardin’s Aniya Diamond was third with eight points.

“It means a lot,” Lawson said. “I won Athlete of the Year last year and would’ve never thought I would win it again. I’m just really grateful for my coaches that have taught me as well as my family who encourages me and tells me when I can do better.

“I’ve had coaches come up to me at meets telling me they think I’m a good athlete and that I should keep running. It just means a lot knowing that someone sees improvement in my running and took time to tell me so.”

While she is no doubt happy with how the season turned out, there is one thing Lawson wishes she could have a do-over for.

“Personally, I think I could’ve pushed myself harder to get my times down, but overall I would say I had a successful season,” she said. “I wish I had done my training differently.

I don’t like practicing, I like to just go out there. But, of course, you need to practice and train to get better. I could’ve pushed myself harder in practice.”

Bleecker said there wasn’t a day where Lawson didn’t give her all in practice, even if she felt that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t even know what to say about Allie,” Bleecker said. “She’s just phenomenal. You can not say anything bad about her.

She’s humble, she’s a hard worker and she’s coachable. She’s so talented for being so young. The only thing I was worried about was I pushing her enough, was I getting her enough competition.”

Lawson showed that most certainly wasn’t the case.