WESTFIELD, NJ — When he was a freshman, Spencer Weigand ran to stay in shape for soccer tryouts. Now a two-season track captain and one of the best 800m runners in Westfield High School history, the senior finds that the sport has become so much more to him.

“I was training with the cross country team for soccer tryouts and by chance missed it,” said Weigand. “Then I started doing track and instantly fell in love with the sport. It was meant to be.”

This week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week was able to medal at the NJSIAA Group IV State Championship and advance to the upcoming Meet of Champions, coming in third in the 800m and 6th in the 4x400m relay. He ran 1:59:06 and 52.9 respectively.

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“Last year at this meet, it was just bad news all the way,” Weigand said. “Coming back this year, it was my goal to make sure that didn't happen again. Placing third just shows how the hard work pays off.”

In a sport focused on speed, physicality is not always considered a critical quality for success. But according to head coach Christopher Tafelski, it helped Weigand to a successful finish at the championship this weekend.

“Spencer has really developed his ability to be physical,” Tafelski said. “In my opinion, the 800m is one of the most physical events. In addition to being fit, you need to be mentally and physically strong to defend your space. It’s a huge accomplishment in a Group IV event to place third like Spencer did, but to also be a reliable leg on a 4x4 is a big deal. We wouldn't have been able to do it without him.”

Weigand, along with the rest of the 4x400m relay team, will return to Toms River Sunday to compete at the Meet of Champions. Weigand hopes to have another strong performance.

“For the Meet of Champions, we want to run well in the 4x4,” Weigand said. “I’m looking to come top three and medal in the 800m.”

Aside from being an outstanding competitor, Tafelski credits Weigand for being a role model on the track team.

“You think of leadership of like this rah rah kind of thing, but that'’s not Spencer’s way,” the coach explained. “The type of leadership he shows is quiet leadership. Spencer demonstrates by the way he prepares, trains and competes. Showing it to people is way more effective than telling someone what to do.”

Weigand looks to continue his passion for the sport in college.

“I’d say that running in college is a must for me,” Weigand said. “I'm going to try and run Division I at University of South Carolina, or I might try to walk on at Virginia Tech.”

At the end of the day, what Weigand enjoys most about the sport is not its competitive edge or winning, but rather the process.

“What I enjoy about running is that it’s just time in the day you can forget about everything else,” he said. “Just enjoy it.”

Daniel Han is a student a Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.