AJ Harrington always liked to run.
"My first Turkey Trot was in 3rd grade," he said. "I ran that until I was about in 5th grade."
Years later, AJ's love for the one mile race convinced him to join the modified cross country team as a 7th grader but what AJ didn't realize was that cross country was more than one mile at a time.
"My reaction was surprised definitely," he laughed.
About three miles. It was something AJ knew was going to be a struggle.
"I realized that I was gonna be in trouble because I wasn't in shape at that time," he said.
But he soon got the hang of it and the Varsity coaches took notice.
The 7th grader is now running with kids years older than him, a big change from what he was used to.
"Definitely nervous but motivated at the same time," AJ said.
About two weeks ago, AJ ran his first Varsity league race.
"It was awesome," he added. "At first, I felt great at the beginning."
He was running a 7-minute pace at mile one but then things got real.
"In the middle, I tried to go a little faster and I sprinted and I made a big mistake," he explained. "I slowed down but I still did as good as possible."
AJ wound up finishing 4th on the team and 14th overall. That's not so bad for your first Varsity race.
"I'm used to running one mile and it just felt really good," he said about the race.
The bar has been set and the future is bright.
"I really want to reach 21 minutes or under this year," AJ said. "I just gotta keep working hard and try to build from my goals."
SUPER 7 ATHLETES:
1. AJ Harrington, Tonawanda cross country
2. Lancaster Special Teams: We normally don't recognize a unit but this week is a little different after the Legends returned three different kickoffs for touchdowns in a win over Niagara Wheatfield last Friday, setting a school record. According to the school, the team also added another school record for most points scored in a game with 61.
3. Thomas Cecere, Grand Island football: Cecere had himself a night in a win against Starpoint last Friday. He ran for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns and also recorded a pick-six while on defense.
4. Zakaria Shiabi, McKinley soccer: Shiabi scored seven goals and had an assist in an 11-2 win over West Seneca East last weekend.
5. Dylan McDuffie, Sweet Home RB: McDuffie scored Sweet Home's game winning touchdown in overtime to help them beat Kenmore East. He ended the night with more than 100 rushing yards and two scores.
6. Lauren Zwolenkiewicz, Christian Central girls soccer: Lauren scored all six goals in her team's win over Park School, tying a school record.
7. Jack Sharp, Orchard Park QB: Sharp had just one incompletion last Friday int he team's win over Lockport. He threw for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns in the win.