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La Jolla Athlete of the Week: Runner and wrestler Ronald Way embraces endurance to ‘overcome any challenge’

La Jolla High School senior Ronald Way (162) runs during a cross country race.
(Courtesy of Ronald Way)

For La Jolla High School senior and dual-sport athlete Ronald Way, stamina is everything.

Indeed, the cross country runner’s endurance training helped him during the recent CIF tournament in his other sport, wrestling.

“With stamina and endurance, I feel like I can overcome any challenge in life,” said Way, 18. “No matter how hopeless something might be or what a losing battle can seem like, you can always push through.”

During the CIF tournament Feb. 12, in which he placed fourth, Way bested wrestlers who might have been more skilled, but he was able to outlast them.

“What got him through the tournament was his really great conditioning and mental toughness,” said his coach, Ryan Lindenblatt. “He just went at a constant pace that he did not waver from throughout ... every single one of his matches. He caught up because the other guy was tired and he wasn’t. He was able to push it to 100 and maintain that.”

Going into high school, Way decided to channel his energy into running.

“I wasn’t really good at sports, but I would walk to school, so I built up endurance over time,” he said. “I soon found that running four or five miles was easy. But I love challenging myself, so I wanted to build up from there.”

In opting for cross country running and ultra-marathoning, Way drew inspiration from La Jolla High swimming and water polo coach Tom Atwell, who often runs 100 miles around the school’s track to raise money for cancer research.

“His freshman year, Ron ran 20 or 25 miles with me,” Atwell said. “The next year, he ran more.”

When schools were closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Way wanted to run a 50-mile race and again consulted with Atwell for training suggestions.

“People reach out to me for advice on how to train for ultra-marathons, and few people actually follow through with the plans I give them, but he did it,” Atwell joked. “It was a 16-week schedule, and he would update me when he would hit different milestones.”

Way trained to the point that he ran 100 miles on the Fay Avenue Bike Path late last year.

Soon after the cross country season, Way was looking for a change of pace and joined the wrestling team.

“Wrestling is physically demanding, and since I like challenging myself, I wanted to try it,” Way said. “The drills are demanding. Wrestling a person is really tough. You get exhausted really fast. You need stamina to keep going. A wrestling match is harder than a cross country match. You find yourself wanting to stop.”

But he didn’t stop. And after just a few months, he was able to reach the CIF tournament.

As he looks to inspire others, Way said he wants young people to know “you are a lot better than you think and can do more than you think. A little confidence helps. If you have no confidence, you are just battling yourself.”

La Jolla Athlete of the Week features athletes from all sports in high school (La Jolla High, The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School) and other local youth sports. We’re looking not only for the stars of competition but also for student-athletes who set an example for teamwork, academic achievement and/or community involvement. Please email your nominations, and a way to reach your nominees, to Editor Rob Vardon at robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.