Salute to Seniors: Stephen Ward

Before the class of 2019 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time! FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.

Today we salute Lake Wales senior, Stephen Ward

What was your most memorable race moment ?

My most memorable race moment was hands down racing the first leg of our 4x8 relay at State. This race was so special because me and my team and coach have put in so much work to win this race. Coach Aj put out a plan for us to follow and we did exactly what he told us to do. This was one of the best moments of my life.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

My biggest competition came from my teammates. My team has so much talent and a work ethic like no other. It didn't matter if it was a small meet or a huge meet or even a time trial we would go at it and push each other to run fast times. They pushed me in every workout and no matter if it was a bad race or not we always supported each other.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was winning State in the 4x8 hands down. However, just making it to State in every event I ran at Regionals was also a huge accomplishment for me. This was my first year to make it as an individual and that felt really good. My heart was in the 4x8 though and that was my main focus.

Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing ?

My biggest role model was my Coach, Austin Richmond. He is a true inspiration to me and the greatest runner I know. He trained me to be a great runner but also a better young man. We went through so much but he never let me give up on myself and he always believed in me since the very first day that we met on our concrete track after school. I wouldn't be who I am today without him in my life.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?

The only thing I would want to change would be starting running as a freshman instead of a sophomore. I missed an entire season due to having ACL surgery. But other than that I am happy with what I was able to accomplish and I am so so hungry for more success at the next level.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

The most difficult obstacle that I had to overcome was having ACL surgery going into my Junior year. It was terrible and I missed running so much and I couldn't do hardly anything that involved running. I overcame this by doing pool workouts once I was allowed to and also by getting closer to God to get me through those hard times. It honestly helped me because it showed me that running is what I wanted to do in my life and to give up basketball.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss my Coach and my team the most. They are like brothers to me and I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else in the State. Also I will miss the competitiveness of High school and all of the great athletes that I was able to compete against.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

I would tell them to get your run in during morning time and to take advantage of every workout that you do. I would also tell them to have fun with it and race with your heart and the times will come.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

My Coach has changed my life as simple as that, he helped me become a man and he is a true role model to me and I want to grow up to be a wise man like him.

What are your post-high school or college plans?

I will attend SEU and run Cross country and track and study to be a physical therapist.

Who would you like to say thank you to?

I would like to say thank you to everyone who was on my team you guys mean the world to me and I would go to war for each and everyone of y'all. I would also say thank you to my aunt who took me in and helped me become a better young man and a big thank you to one of my teachers Mrs. Speer who helped me finish High school strong and always knew how to make me feel better. God has put so many great people in my path and I will forever be thankful for that and I want to someday give back to my community.