(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – LRHS senior John Rivera is one of the best high school runners in America, but that wasn’t always his dream. His dream was to become a top soccer star. His dream crashed when he was injured, but soon ended up on top with a different plan.
Rivera has been running for seven years, so he could stay in shape for soccer. He played soccer for 14 years, which led to him getting hurt for five and a half months. Rivera had Division I college offers from top soccer programs. When he got hurt most of the offers went away because signing day for soccer is much earlier than that for running.
“I knew that there was a potential but knew coming in late because I was hurt was going to be sort of stressful for me,” Rivera said. “I had only under three weeks of real training going into the state meet and really couldn’t performs at my best. What many people do not know is that with going back and forth to the doctors’ office, they hadn’t cleared me to run.
“After talking with my dad, coaches, and other high end people out there that knew the situation, I thought it would be best to take the risk and run the rest of the track season. I managed to get to and New Balance Nationals on six weeks of training and ran a very good time that allowed me to begin the recruiting process,” Rivera said.
Rivera placed 20th at the Class 4A state meet and won the 4A-8 district meet last season in cross-country. Rivera was also named Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Rivera has many motivations that cause him to stay committed. The fact that his coaches and teammates believe in him, it pushes Rivera to continue forward. He believes in himself every day and the outcome will come.
LRHS track coach Mark Napier said, “I am very proud of John, he is like an adopted son to me. He is a wonderful kid, and I am fortunate enough to watch him grow athletically and as a person.
“Rivera was recruited from IMG for soccer with a scholarship and then he got hurt. He visited the idea (of returning), but he decided that Lakewood Ranch was where he wanted to stay and finish his high school career. This path has worked out for him,” Napier said.
His future seems to be bright, as he will be running for University of Mississippi next year for a very talented team. He dreams of becoming a national champion in the 800-meter run and make the US Olympic team in 2020.