For Lexi King, there is no offseason.
The Marvin Ridge sophomore has been running on a regular basis since she was in fourth grade. Lexi has been on the run year-round since, from cross-country to indoor track and outdoor track – and even on her own when no one is watching.
On a recent family trip to the Bahamas, Lexi, 15, had her mother, Melissa King-Pierce, get her a five-day membership to the local gym so she could keep up with her routine while on vacation. She ran more than 40 miles on the treadmill.
“Running is a just part of my daily routine, and I honestly feel empty if I don’t run,” Lexi said. “I love the feeling after a good run; there is nothing else like it.”
Lexi has been a standout runner since she left her mom in the dust in her first race, a 5K where she finished second overall among 100 of her peers.
She continued to develop her talents in middle school, to the point where Marvin Ridge cross-country and track coach Cameron Starr knew about her several years before she got to high school.
Lexi didn’t disappoint in her freshman year at Marvin Ridge last season: She won her very first high school cross-country meet, the Weddington Invitational.
She also won the Southern Carolina Conference title before taking the 3A Midwest Regional championship in a personal-record 17 minutes, 52 seconds – one of the top 10 freshmen times in the nation.
Lexi finished off her first Mavericks’ cross-country season by placing fifth at the 3A state meet. Her team finished as 3A state runner-up.
Her winter was just as good as she finished second in the 1,000-meter dash at the 3A indoor state meet. She finished third at states in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter dashes as a part of a Marvin Ridge girls’ team that won the 3A team title.
Last spring, Lexi capped her freshman year by winning SCC titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs, while also taking the 3A Midwest Regional crowns in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs.
At the 3A outdoor state meet, she finished fifth in the 1,600 and seventh in the 3,200.
“It didn’t really surprise me to see how well she did because she has always been one of the top runners,” said King-Pierce, who is also the Marvin Ridge swim coach. “But when I saw some of her times and that compared with some of the best runners on her team and some of the best seniors (around), I couldn’t help but thinking where she could be when she is a senior.”
Lexi tries to work on improving each day, but she lets the results take care of themselves.
“I don’t get too caught up in all the times and stats, and what different people are doing at every race,” Lexi said. “I just trying to keep focusing on getting better and getting faster all of time.”
Lexi is running about 50 miles per week this summer. She is working with Starr on getting better at running in the big races.
“Winning an individual state championship is about the only thing Lexi didn’t do last year,” Starr said. “That is something we’ve talked about a lot, and she wants to do well in the big races. I think once she gets one, the pressure will be off, and she will take an even bigger leap and take her running to the next level.”
Lexi attributes a lot of her success to her teammates, who she trains with year-round.
The Marvin Ridge cross-country team is loaded with talent again with juniors Kylie Hennessey (16th regionals), Melanie Hussey (eighth regionals, 14th states) and Nicole Renwick (sixth regionals, 13th states), and sophomores Leah Meissner and Lexi Noch (seventh regional, 17th states).
That group is ranked No. 2 in the state among all classes by NCRunners.com and is ranked as the top 3A team.
“It helps a lot to run with teammates with the same goals in mind,” Lexi said. “I think we really feed off each other.”
Lexi is already thinking about running in college and got a glimpse of what that is like at the N.C. State University team camp this summer.
“I want to run (competitively) for as long as I can,” Lexi said. “I was really excited to go to N.C. State’s camp, and it’s was a lot of fun, and I’m excited to see other schools. I’d love to be a part of a program one day. But for now, I just have to focus on the next race.”