In 2008 I left the comforts of home to go to Weber State University. How did I make the choice to go there? I liked the campus and the the distance running program, and there weren’t really any other Utah schools that were showing a lot of interest in me as far as running goes. Although I was an accomplished runner in Wyoming, I did not really stand out very much compared to athletes in other states. I went to Weber without a scholarship.
It was a big change: moving from a quiet country town to a faster-paced college town. Suddenly I had to worry about traffic lights and multiple-lane highways when driving! People always seemed to be on the go and had something to do. On the plus side, food and entertainment were all now within a short drive. Also, there were running trails right off of campus that went up into the mountains. Bonus!
I was introduced to a new event in college that would greatly affect my collegiate running career: The steeplechase. 7 laps around the track jumping over barriers and jumping into a water pit. It hardly sounds like a race for human beings, more for a horse, but that is where I found the most success.
I got a lot faster my Freshman year. My biggest accomplishments were that I made the traveling team; which included the top seven runners on the team, I was All-Conference in the DMR in Indoor track, I qualified for the First Round of Nationals in the steeplechase, and I went to Junior Nationals in the steeplechase. I made enough of an impact so that the coaches offered me a scholarship for the next season.
But I would have to postpone my sophomore year of college. Later that year I left for Peru to serve a 2 year mission for my church; the LDS church. I could write pages and pages about my experience in Peru, but I’ll just sum it up that it was challenging, rewarding, and a big period of growth. I got to meet amazing people, see some of the most spectacular places, have crazy experiences and learn some hard life lessons. I am very thankful for my opportunity to serve during those 2 years, and owe a lot of who I am today to my time in Peru.
I got back in late 2011 and jumped on the train back at Weber State. Time to see what I could do on the track! The team had changed a lot and suddenly I was a veteran. Luckily I hadn’t lost my edge for running while I was on the other side of the equator and it came back pretty quick. I was second place in the steeple at the Big Sky Conference Championships; the champion was fellow team mate Mike Hardy, who had come on the team with me as Freshmen, and who had also served a church mission.
From there, I kept on having success on the track. Training was going well, and it was a lot of fun being on the team. I owe most of my social life in college to my team. We did a lot together and had fun times. I also roomed with other runners, which made it a lot more fun because I could relate to them and get involved a lot easier.
My college coach was Paul Pilkington, who had built up quite a name for himself in running. He was an extraordinary runner with a 2:11 PR in the marathon and many other accomplishments. As a coach he was disciplined and had a set method of working out for his runners. His coaching style matched up with me very well and I got significantly faster while in college.
My next year of college was probably my most successful. I was Conference Champion in the steeplechase and went into NCAA first round nationals ranked as the 10th fastest runner in the nation. It was about that time that I was realizing I was becoming a runner on the larger scale. That same year I was MVP for Weber State in cross country, and then MVP for indoor track. That year was where most of my lifetime personal records come from.
I finished up my senior year well. There was a strong pack of senior runners on the team and we wanted to end on a high note. It was a fun season and we continued to have success. My final track season didn’t go as I wanted; I couldn’t quite reach the level that I wanted in the steeplechase. It seemed as if my body was burnt out and had had enough; it happens.
College came to an end, and looking back, I am very thankful for my time at Weber State. I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything else, and being part of the team was so rewarding and gave me such a feeling of accomplishment. I went through a lot of hard workouts, and good and bad races with the guys on the team, and you can’t help but build a sort of a comradery.