Kingston’s Lenz completes historic XC career

Lucas Lenz’s cross country uniform may be hung in the gym rafters when he finishes one of the best running careers in Kingston High School history.

His cross-country records include first in the 5K with a time of 15 minutes, 33.4 seconds and second in the 2 mile with a 10:16.8 time.

Lenz also excels on the track team. His records include: first in the distance medley relay in 11:01.23; first in the 4×800 relay in 8:42.72; second in the 1600 meters in 4:27.58, second in the 1 mile in 4:40.27 and second in the 3200 meters in 9:38.5.

“It is great to show what happens when you follow the running plan,” coach Spencer Hunt said. “He has multiple school records. He is legit and deserves all of that.”

Although he is a standout, cross country was not his first love. “In eighth grade, I did one season of cross country but I didn’t take it too seriously,” Lenz said. “In high school, I wanted to play football but my mom was against me playing high school football and getting hurt. I ended up joining cross country.”

Lenz’s freshman season was cut short because of the pandemic. However, it gave Lenz the opportunity to train and catch up for the missed time he had against experienced runners. “It was pretty interesting because a lot of people had to train through COVID while I was just picking it up,” Lenz said. “I began taking it seriously after COVID.”

Lenz’s first 5K time was 22:25.8, placing 15th in the Olympic League cross-country meet. His first 2-mile time was 15:37.4, placing 11th in the league meet. “Even though I wasn’t running fast, I was trying to get under 20 minutes in the 5K,” Lenz said.

Lenz missed his freshman goal by one second, finishing sixth in the league junior varsity championships with a time of 20:01.2. Once the season ended, Lenz began training during the offseason with friends.

At the beginning of his sophomore season, Lenz already shaved two minutes off his time. He began the 2021 season with a 19th-place finish in a league meet in 18:02.3. Hunt immediately recognized Lenz was special.

“There are different types of athletes,” Hunt said. “There are runners who follow the plan exactly and athletes who are more conservative. Lucas is a racer. He has a natural tendency of how to race, when to race, and how to go that not every athlete has.”

Lenz finished the season 75th in the 2A WIAA State XC Meet with a time of 17:46.9.

Last season, Lenz improved even more, finishing sixth at state in 16:15.4. “I went into the state meet with little expectations,” Lenz said. “I was ranked 16th and the podium is the top 16 people. I found myself in the top ten pack and made a move with one mile to go and ended up in sixth.”

Since Lenz picked up the sport later than many others, he said, “I don’t take anything for granted when I compete with the top guys because I was not always there. I try to take advantage of every opportunity.”

Even though Lenz has succeeded at the highest levels, he has had some trouble in other races. Lenz had a stint this season where he began running in the 17-minute range. “There were certain points each season where I didn’t run how I wanted to,” Lenz said. “I put all this pressure on myself to recreate them but I really succeed when I race with excitement and curiosity.”

Lenz has used his experiences to lift his teammates up too. “It feels good to be a role model because the upperclassmen and I are taking some of the underclassmen in, and they have improved a lot,” Lenz said.

Hunt added: “There is an invisible bar until there is an athlete of that caliber. He is my second generation of athletes to come through Kingston and train in the off-season. He is encouraging those athletes and coordinates a lot of the summer runs.”

Lenz had three goals heading into his final cross-country race. He was aiming for an individual state trophy, Kingston’s first team cross country trophy and to beat the Kitsap County record of 15:09. Lenz’s personal best is 15:33.4.

Even though Lenz fell short of those goals, he led Kingston to a 5th-place state finish as a team. In addition, Lenz finished sixth at state individually with a time of 15:55.6.

Although Lenz still has the track season, he believes he ended his cross-country career on a high note. “It feels crazy that it is over but it feels right that I had one last good run,” Lenz said. “I had a very strong group supporting me. A lot of credit to my coach, teammates, parents and siblings for pushing me.”