Central’s Wightman excited for senior season

Central's Gus Wightman comes across the finish line during a district match on Sept. 14 in Woodstock. Wightman will be looking to lead the Falcons to another strong season this year. Rich Cooley/Daily file

WOODSTOCK — Gus Wightman wasn’t sure how much he would like running cross country at Central when he first started, but after several years of success it’s become his favorite sport.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, and I really grew into the sport,” Wightman said.

Wightman said he learned a lot in his first two seasons, but perhaps the biggest thing he learned was that cross country is a team sport as much as an individual one.

He said he loves the team atmosphere as much as anything about the sport.

“I wouldn’t trade any of these guys for the world,” Wightman said. “We all work together and push each other. I owe a lot of my success to them, because they push me every day.”

Wightman said in his freshman year he suffered an injury and wasn’t able to run in the postseason.

In his sophomore year the Falcons finished second in the Group 2A state meet, and he said it was a learning experience for him in the postseason.

Last year is when Wightman really began to hit his stride.

Wightman along with teammates Mason and Sawyer Lucy-Speidel took turns in the top three spots for Central for most of the season.

“The three of us are always constantly pushing each other,” Wightman said. “It’s not like we’re trying to race each other, but we’re trying to get a good workout in. And we’re all trying to stay up in the front. So it’s always great to do that. Even in races I’m always trying, if I’m behind them, trying to key off of them and get back up with them. But those two guys definitely have helped me along. Sawyer, from sophomore year, and Mason, from last year, they’ve helped me so much. So I owe a lot of my success to them.”

Wightman likes to start out fast, and he said the strategy doesn’t work as well in small meets but it works in bigger meets.

Last year at the Group 2A state meet it paid off in a big way. Wightman placed 11th in the meet in a time of 16:57 to earn all-state honors. The Falcons finished second as a team, behind Maggie Walker for the second straight season.

Central coach Melissa Wright said she’s seen Wightman improve with each season, and he’s really taken more of a leadership role as well.

“I would say the last few summers he has really taken a lot of ownership too,” Wright said. “Being a member of the cross country team and training hard during the summer time. I don’t think he goes easy at all for the summer. He really gears up for the season and works hard and prepares well. And that’s all good news for us when he shows up for the first day of practice.”

Wightman said he did more offseason running than he has in past years, and feels like he will be able to run even better this season than in past years.

Central starts its season today as the Falcons host the Central Invitational at 9 a.m.

Wightman said he has some very high goals for himself this season, including winning the Bull Run District meet and trying to make the top 5 this year at the state meet.

However, Wightman is most excited about the team and what it can accomplish. With most of the team back from last year, and some new faces that Wightman said are showing some real promise, the goals for the team are a state title.

“I’m really excited for this year,” Wightman said. “I think definitely this is the strongest we’ve been. Our goal is we’re trying to win states — that’s definitely our goal. And I think if there was a year to do it, this is the year. I think we’re all in our best shape’s. And I think it’s going to be real interesting to see how everything plays out.”