Senior Send-off: John Hardin's Katie Lever



Katie Lever just graduated from John Hardin High School.  She was an all-state runner finishing 6th this past fall in Class AAA at the Kentucky State Cross Country Meet.  She also had the second best time statewide in the 3200m Run this spring with an 11:09.22.

She answered some Senior Send-off Questions below.  If you graduated and are interested in answering the same questions, please email them to


What was your most memorable race?

The Fast Cats Classic last October. That was when I finally broke the school record for the 5k, which was my goal comming into the season. It was also my first time under 19:00. Whitney O'Brian pushed me hard in that race, so I owe her a big 'thank you' for helping me break that record.


Where did you face your biggest competition

Big meets are awesome if you're looking for competition. Foot Locker Southeast regionals last November was intense. Cassidy Hale placed 15th with a 17:41, which just shows you how talented the field was. It was a little unnerving, but I loved competing with such fast runners, because they pushed me to a PR.


Out of all of your high school accomplishments which stands out the most?

Going from a nobody to a state contender. I ran my first ever cross country race my Freshman year in about 27 minutes and I hated every second of it. I never thought I would be a serious runner because I was so focused on my first love, softball, and truly hated running at the time. Cross country was simply softball training, so I really didn't care about my running career. However, as time went on, I realized that I was getting nowhere with softball and decided to stop running half-heartedly. My Junior year, I pursued cross country and found my passion. Running has made me scrappy and mentally tough, which will help me later in life. I think building a successful running career out of nothing is an achievement in itself.


If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?

I really wish I could go back in time and tell my freshman self to hang up my cleats, lace up a good pair of Brooks, and go run. I didn't start running seriously until my Junior year, when my best friend, Halie wanted to run cross country with me. She really pushed me and her selfless dedication to the John Hardin cross country team has changed my life. Without her, I would have never pursued running nor would I have received a scholarship. I am blessed and honored to call her my best friend and running partner. I dedicate all my races to her.


What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Transitioning from a softball player to a distance runner was difficult in many respects. Physically, softball players and distance runners are built differently. In some of my older cross country pictures, I had much more upper-body muscle than I do now, and that additional weight was probably weighing me down. In my sophomore year, I weighed 125 pounds and I am 105 right now. That took a lot of discipline with nutrition as well. Telling my softball coach about my decision was rough. I told myself I wouldn't cry when I told him, but I broke down within my first sentence! He has been one of my biggest supporters, and I'm so grateful for the grace he has shown. I have always struggled with confidence, too. I'm so young to the sport that a lot of the time, I felt really inexperienced. I just had to remind myself that God is always with me and that he already has my race planned out.


What will you miss the most?

My cross country girls! We bonded so much this past season and I've never felt that close to a team in my life. I'm so proud of our accomplishments this year. We made a goal at the beginning of the season to qualify for state as a team and achieved it, which hasn't been done at John Hardin since 2008. It was so amazing to watch these ladies grow and mature as runners while becoming my closest friends. I have big hopes for their futures and will miss messing with Coach Swartz's car, making T-shirts before the conference meet, wearing crazy socks at state, and running with them by my side. I am also blessed with incredible coaches. Coach Swartz is an amazing person. He is an FCA leader at school and a pastor, so he is my spiritual coach as well. He always told me if I keep God first, everything else will fall into place, which is the best advice I have ever received. He always believed in me even when I didn't and never went easy on me during training even when I wanted him to. I am truly blessed to have known him and privileged to be his athlete.


Do you have any advice for younger athletes?

I know it is cliché', but don't ever give up! I ran my first cross country race in over 27 minutes, but I kept running. Pour your heart into this sport, and you will reap its rewards. Also, trust in God, your coaches and teammates, and yourself. Realize that you are never alone in your endeavors. Support and confidence are imperative and if you truly love running, pursue it fervently.


What are your college plans?

This fall, I will be running at Western Kentucky University as a third generation Hilltopper athlete (my Papaw played football and my mom was a runner like me). I plan to major in broadcasting and aspire to be a sports anchor or reporter. My dream job is to be an anchor on Sports Center! But for now, I am savoring my summer training and looking forward to a hopefully successful college career. Although it's sad to see my high school career end, I'm looking forward to my next chapter in life.