The “State” Of Mind


Taegan Braverman, Guest Contributor

After 6 years of hard work and dedication to the sport he loves, Geneva Community High School Senior, Nathan Lehman, qualified for the State Cross Country meet held on November 6th.

Lehman’s stellar performance at the 2021 Sectional meet landed him an individual spot in the State meet. Prior to this, he had a very successful senior cross-country season.

“One standout race for me was the County meet,” Lehman said. “Due to injury, it was my first time racing cross country in 2 years. It felt great to let loose for a 4th place finish and big PR [personal record] on a challenging course.”

Starting cross country in seventh grade, Lehman hasn’t looked back since.

“Being a part of cross country has helped me explore my limits. I have learned so much about teamwork and have made lifelong friends throughout the years,” he said.

Lehman not only participates on the Geneva High School Cross Country team, but also competes on the track team. Cross country has been a big part of his life, which is why he plans to continue running in his future.

“I will certainly continue running as a hobby, but I do not plan on officially competing on a team,” he said.

Qualifying for State is no small feat. Upon qualifying, there are many extraordinary experiences Lehman had during his trip to Peoria, Illinois.

On the morning of Friday, November 5, GHS held a “sendoff” for Lehman and his fellow teammate Jack Kuehl, who accompanied him on the trip. Coach Jake Kaufman tells of his sendoff experience.

“The sendoff was very nice. A lot of teammates, boys and girls, and Coach Morrison showed up as well as Mr. Carli and our old head coach Bob Thomson who coached Nathan his freshman year. As well as the people going down which were me Coach Hedrick Coach Raak Coach Jeffrey Nathan and Jack Kuehl (Junior) as well as Nathan’s parents and sister. We took pictures for twitter and for Nathan and his friend and decorated the driver’s ed van which was a little weird because we usually take the minibus,” Kaufman said.

After being sent off to Peoria, many supporters came to motivate Lehman’s endeavors.

“My immediate family came out to watch. Some of my teammates made the trek out to Peoria. They included Evan Kirby, Andrew Warcup and Owen Kroyer,” he said.

Everyone who went took a bus down all together which gave some time to relax before the race. “The ride to Peoria was more relaxed than it usually is as when I went in the past there was a lot more people in a bigger space and the athletes usually outnumbered the coaches, but that wasn’t the case this time,” Kaufman said. “What was nice is we had a chance to talk to each other more and got to know each other even more on the 2 and half hour drive we stopped off to get McAlister’s to grab our lunch and eat it at Starved Rock outside. It was a beautiful day.”

When the crew finally arrived at their destination, they all had dinner together and stayed at a hotel.

“We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton in Peoria. I was there as well as Coach Raak, Coach Hedrick, Coach Jeffrey and Jack Kuehl and Nathan of course,” Kaufman said.

The race itself was extremely tough, but Lehman persevered.

“The race was extremely fast with a winning time of 14:11. I went out in a 4:50 for the first mile. After going through a mile and a half in 7:30, I instantly hit a wall and struggled for the remainder of the race. This was my toughest race ever. Although I didn’t have a good race, it was still an amazing experience, and I am glad that I was even able to qualify,” Lehman said.

Running in the State meet was the perfect end to Lehman’s high school cross country career.

Grateful for the meaningful relationships this sport has brought him, Lehman shared a little bit about a teammate who has been there through it all.

“One person that has always been there for me is teammate Owen Kroyer. He is always at the start line to wish me luck and congratulate me immediately after the race. Owen is the most enthusiastic and uplifting teammate I know,” Lehman said.

Even though his season is over, the celebrations are not. With a team awards night coming up on November 18, Lehman will continue to be honored for his impressive performance. His name will be featured on a plaque on the upstairs track at GHS, and his legacy as a GVXC alumni will live on forever.