Alexa Lange, the 1988 3200-meter AAA state track champion, 1989 AAA state cross-country runner-up, 1989 third place finisher at the FootLocker National Southeast regional cross-country tournament and 1999 Texas State Championship triathlete, never saw the point in running before she set foot on the track at Herndon High School. She admitted that she was behind the curve when she entered high school.
"It never occurred to me that it was a sport," remembered Lange. "Running just didn't make sense to me at the beginning."
The daughter of immigrant parents, German mother Bridgette and Latvian father Per, Lange said that she and her parents had to "learn the rules of high school athletics together. A lot of people who had older siblings and parents who went to high school in the United States knew that before school started, you would start training. I had no idea."
Maybe it's why Lange, a swimmer since the age of five, didn't see the point in running.
"We said let's give it a week," said Lange, who along with her best friend Michi Carter decided to try out for Mike Mahoney's cross-country team. "After a week, I was making huge excuses and I told Mike Mahoney 'this is not for me.'"
Mahoney, now Herndon's Director of Student Activities, convinced Lange to stay with the team until her first competition.
"We ran the race together. We won it," said Lange of her and Carter. "I started to think 'this could be for me.'"
Track coach Mike Dobson remembered Lange's potential.
"She just had the gift," he said. "She was actually not very tall, maybe 5'4, less than 100-pounds. She had good body mechanics. It was very good for her distance."
LANGE, A DISTANCE runner with Herndon's track teams, also swam the 500-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke for four years with Herndon's swim team. She also swam with a club team called Solotar at the Hidden Creek Country Club in Reston. Along with teammate Skye Eddy — a track star and future collegiate all-American soccer player — Lange would spend early mornings running in Herndon so that she could attend team and club practices at nights.
"I remember having to run on Elden Street," said Lange, whose 5:30 a.m. training sessions paid off in the form of the 1988 state title in the 3200-meter run (10:43.8). "You couldn't really see because the car lights were shining. You felt good. You felt like you were running the extra mile."
Lange's extra miles, which eventually earned her a spot on Stanford University's track team, got the young track star early attention — all of which she shied away from. She took third place in the Southeast regional FootLocker cross-country tournament (18:08) in 1989 — a victory that put her on the national racing map.
"Mike Dobson pulled me into his office. There was a ranking of the best 1-mile and 2-mile times [in the country]," remembered Lange, who said she was ranked No. 2 in the nation as a sophomore. "Hey that's cool, but the next thing I had to worry about was my French test. It never really sunk in because there was the rest of life to live."
Eddy remembered the free-spirited Lange.
"We called her "Go-Go Lexa" and I’m not sure if that was because she kept "go going" around the track or because her mind never stopped," said Eddy, who described Lange as a "petite girl with cut-off sweat pants just past her knees who would have a big smile on her face and was overwhelming with self-confidence and compassion for everyone around her. She was one of my greatest friends and although we haven’t kept in touch, I will always think of her as such."
Lange was not only a state champion in the outdoor 3200-meter as as a sophomore, but she finished third at the Penn Relays in 1988, qualified for nationals in cross-country in 1989 (placed 15th) and placed fifth at both the 1988 and 1989 National meet.
LANGE WENT ON to compete at Stanford University and instead of staying on her pace to graduate in three years, took time off to come back to Reston. She worked at George Washington Hospital and Merrill Lynch in order to answer the question: "Did I want to go to medical school?" Lange went back to Stanford and graduated before moving to Austin, Texas where she took a job with a software company. Two years later she started her own company and "In 1997, I thought I would try the triathlon because it would mix things up," said Lange, who won the 1999 Texas Triathlon Championship before completely dedicating herself to the sport in 2003.
"I got a coach and spent a lot of time doing it," said Lange, who practiced three to four hours a day.
She took second place in the United States Triathlon Association's Amateur Nationals and was slated to go to the world competition. Instead, Lange — now known as Alexa Lange Wesner — opted to start a family with her husband Blaine. She has a daughter named Keep. She often returns to Reston to compete in triathlons. She won the Texas State Champion in Olympic Distance Triathlon in 1999 and qualified for the US Team to go to Worlds in Triathlon and Aquathlon (swim/run) in 2003 and was the Austin Distance Challenge Champion in 2002. She was a USMS (United States Masters Swimming) All-American recently. She won the Reston Triathlon in 2000 and in 2003.
"I was proud," said Lange of winning the local event. "I was happy to see people that I hadn't seen in a long time. It feels good to run in Reston. There is something about the way it smells and the light, the vegetation, the smell of the Lake. It brought back great memories."
Alexa Lange is 88 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.