TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka West senior Lenny Njoroge is one of the best cross country runners in the state. When he’s not on the course he’s scoring goals for the Chargers’ soccer team.
“He’s pretty dynamic on the pitch,” Topeka West soccer coach Josh Cutter said. “He is shifty and he’s got the endurance like a state caliber cross country runner.”
That’s impressive by itself, but his story runs deeper than that. In 2017, Njoroge left his home in Kenya to join his dad in America, who he credits for his strong work ethic.
“Funny thing is, he used to do two jobs, too,” Njoroge said. “He used to do night shift, all night. Then in the morning, he goes to do Walmart all day…’Son, you got to push yourself.’ In this life, nothing comes easy, so that’s where I get it from.”
Njoroge had the work ethic, but he didn’t yet know he had the talent. In seventh grade, his P.E. teacher made him run a mile with all the other students. When he broke five minutes and thirty seconds, Topeka West cross country coach Donnie Palmer knew he had something special.
“[As a freshman] he ended up qualifying for state, and finishing, I think, just outside the top ten, eleventh or so at state,” Palmer said. “So that’s when we kind of knew we had something here.”
Eleventh as a freshman, COVID-19 cancelled his sophomore year. Then, as a junior, travesty.
“Came off regionals, qualified for state, exciting,” Njoroge said. “Saturday morning, having a really hard tournament, got a through [pass] from my teammate, keeper came out, slide tackle, just shin to cleat contact, and I just heard my leg snap.”
Njoroge broke his leg and was out for state, but this year, he’s hoping to be on top.
“Trying to go for that state, state title,” Njoroge said.