As he entered Haddonfield Memorial High School to start his senior year, Seth Clevenger had just spent the majority of his sophomore and junior years rehabbing following hip surgery that took place shortly after his second cross-country season.
After months of physical therapy and heavily altered training, Clevenger was able to return to cross-country and indoor track for his senior year, leading to both individual and team success.
However, he was eager to give it his all and really let loose in one final season for the Bulldawgs.
“The injuries affected me for a while there,” Clevenger said. “I was out those two years and it had a little bit of an effect on me the past two seasons, too, but I wasn’t going to let anything stop me this spring season.
“I wanted to win as many races as possible,” he added. “I knew I always had this in me. I thought I was able to do something like this from the beginning. It was just a matter of time really.”
Clevenger put on a master class of long-distance running in the spring season. According to coach Nick Baker, the senior went undefeated in the 1,600-meter race and eventually broke a school record – with a 4:07.23 – that was previously held by his coach’s son, Colin.
Clevenger also won the 1,600 and 3,200 at both the South Jersey Group 2 sectional and state meet, before winning the 3,200 at the 2022 NJSIAA Track and Field Meet of Champions at Franklin High School in mid-June. Clevenger was also named an All-American shortly after his performance at New Balance Nationals.
For that, Clevenger is South Jersey Sports Weekly’s 2021-’22 Boys Spring Track Athlete of the Year.
Baker had watched the young runner toil in rehab and cross training during the majority of his high-school career, but he had hoped to see Clevenger let loose at some point for the Bulldawgs. After Clevenger’s successful cross-country and indoor track seasons, Baker said the past season felt different.
“One of the great things about coaching Seth is that he’s always motivated for the chance to run fast and for the opportunity he had to win as many titles as he could,” Baker said. “He had his past seasons kind of condensed into one, so he didn’t want to waste any time at all with trying to break records or win titles.
“It meant so much to him to finally be able to do this.”
One of the most exciting things about Clevenger, Baker said, is his love for the race. Not just running the race he’s in, but really competing with other runners who might come closest to his time. It meant being the best of the best competition wise. And despite often finding the best competition, there was only one place you could find Clevenger during the race.
“You could always find him at the front,’ Baker said. “He pretty much always led every race. It’s a big difference from what he did indoors. Now, he was the one not only pushing the pace, but taking the brunt of the wind and weather from the front.”
Close behind Clevenger in most races was junior George Andrus, who finished second at sectionals and states in the same events as Clevenger before coming in third in the 3,200 at the Meet of Champions. Having a teammate so close behind – in both meets and practices – was of great importance and benefit, Clevenger said.
“He was a great training partner; we were always racing and pushing each other in workouts, which kept it interesting,” Clevenger said. “He was a huge help to help me get the times that I wanted this year, and he’ll have an even better year for himself next year now, I’m sure.”