Evans High School sophomore Justin Weegar doesn’t run because of inner demons, but he does run with an angel on his shoulder.
Weegar’s mother, Misty, was murdered Aug. 11, 2010, when Weegar was in middle school, and her memory has been a driving force behind his running.
“My sister and I say that she gives me angel wings when I run,” said Weegar. “That’s why I go so fast, I guess.”
His father said while that memory may motivate Justin, he in turn inspires the rest of the family.
“I think it is a big source of his inspiration to run for his mom,” said Tim Weegar. “We know that she’d be proud of him. So I think he uses that as one of his main motivational factors when he’s running. He thinks about her and I’m sure it gives him a lot of power.”
There is reason to believe he could inspire others. When he competed in the Run for Aimee (Copeland) 5K Run in June, he donated his winning prize money to the cause.
“I got $100 and I gave it back,” Justin Weegar said. “One, I’m a teenager so I don’t really need $100 to go waste on something like a pair of shoes or clothes I don’t even need. Two, the race was to (raise) money to go toward Aimee’s prosthetics. That money would help her out. I mean, it’s not that much, but every little bit helps, you know.”
To help focus before a race, he listens to dubstep and plays Ruffneck to tune out distractions.
“It gets me pumped up for a race,” Justin Weegar said.
Once the race begins, Weegar likes to jump out to a fast start and go from there.
“I like to either take the lead or get in the top three usually, and then if there’s somebody like Chase (Fowers) who’s faster than me. I like to stay behind him and usually I have a sprint at the end and if there’s someone in front of me at the end I try to pass them.”
The sprint at the end hasn’t been necessary in two events at Wildwood Park, home of the 2012 Region 2-AAAAA championships. He’s won going away both times.
His freshman year he finished ninth in the region championships, missing running in the state championships by three places. He has been keeping track of his competition with an eye out for this year’s region meet and says he currently sits third.
“I can pretty much can guarantee myself the top six but you never know, something might happen,” Weegar said. “Fall, injury, you can never be too sure.”
Evans coach Mike Lennox said Weegar has learned a lot since his freshman year and is starting to take a leadership role on the squad.
“He knows what’s got to be done, he’s a motivator,“ said Lennox. “He’s been doing intervals, one of the fastest ones to run intervals. He’s pulling people. He’ll say, ‘Stay with me on this one, stay with me on this one.’”
Others don’t resent him taking that mantle of responsibility.
“He’s contributing a lot to the team and the kids like him,” Lennox said. “He’s very likeable, especially with everything that’s been going on in his life.”