(MileSplit spoke with Drew Roberts shortly after he polished off his Division 3 3200 state championship victory at Jesse Owens Stadium).
Drew Roberts is a 2019 Mapleton grad, who will be competing in cross country and distance track events for Walsh University.
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1) What were some of the highlights of your high school cross country and track careers?
I had a lot of ups and downs in high school, but I definitely have some favorite memories from every season. As a team, I am proud to say I helped our program to its first state meet berth since 1978. Also, I was so glad to be apart of three cross country conference team titles at Mapleton from my freshman to junior year.
Individually, obviously winning the D3 3200m title was the biggest highlight of my career. It was an incredible honor to be the first Mountie to stand atop the track podium since 1978. Aside from that though, some highlights from my senior season include winning the 3200m at the Optimist Meet, winning the Tiffin Carnival, placing sixth at Centerville Saturday Night Lights, setting the conference meet 3200m record (9:32), setting the district 3200m record (9:25), and also lowering my own cross country and 3200m track records (15:41 & 9:24).
2) Did you encounter any struggles or adversity along the way that you had to overcome?
I definitely had my fair share of adversity and struggles throughout my high school career. During my entire freshman year in both cross country and track I was plagued by little injuries. However, I managed to overcome those and remain mostly healthy through my sophomore and junior years. The largest hurdle I faced came last fall. After finishing the race at Saturday Night Lights I immediately knew I had injured my foot. Sure enough, a few days later, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture. The shock alone of this was enough to shake me. I had no warning signs and all of a sudden my senior year, and shot at a state title, came to an abrupt halt. I did not give up then, though. I was still determined to finish out the season at the state meet. So for the next few weeks I did not race or run except on a zero-gravity treadmill. I also spent about 90 minutes everyday in the pool aqua jogging.
However, these efforts were just not enough as I was not able to complete my district race. At about a mile in, I couldn't feel my arms and chest and I knew I would not be able to go on. I was not even close to being in the shape I had been just a month before. This was obviously the low point. Making the decision to throw in the towel on the season was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I knew, though, that my foot could not heal properly until I rested and came back to running the right way. So, that is exactly what I did. I took time off while still crushing it in the pool with the aqua-jogging. I also began to see Dr. Leo Kormanik who helped me to correct everything that caused my stress fracture to occur. By the end of December I first started with going on brisk walks, then some jog-walking, and then, by early January, I was running a mile or two every other day. Finally, by February, I was running every day again and I was hitting reasonable mileage. With the help of my doctor and support of my family, coaches, and teammates (both high school and college) I was able to overcome this injury and have my best season yet this past spring.
(Drew Roberts credits his coaches, teammates and doctors for helping him to persevere through the injury he sustained during his senior year).
3) Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being apart of Mapleton's program?
Besides the competition, I truly enjoyed developing both our cross country and track distance teams into more respected programs. I would like to think that I set a good example of dedication that helped turn our programs into with legacies that will not end with the graduation of my class. What our class did was quite special because of the way we were able to legitimize distance running at our school and gain the respect of both our peers and the administrators. As the years went on, it was awesome to see more and more Mounties getting excited about running instead of dreading it. I also truly enjoyed having the opportunity to spend every season running on the roads around Mapleton. The scenery is quite nice and there are many quiet country roads to choose from.
4) Are there any coaches or teammates that you've worked with over the past four years that you'd like to thank?
First off, I would like to thank my cross country coach, Coach Ortiz, and my track coach, Coach Olin, for leading me through the past four years. I appreciate all the great memories I have made with both of them as I traversed my way through high school running. They were there to support me on my worst days and they were also there to celebrate with me on the best ones. I also would like to mention Dr. Leo here for all the things he did to help me have the ability to return to the sport I love so quickly. All of his advice and medical services enabled me to not only run strong again this spring, but also to ensure nothing like a stress fracture every happens again. I could have not done what I did this spring without his help ensuring reinjury would not occur. Additionally, I would like to thank my future coach, Coach Mizicko, and all my future teammates at Walsh for their constant support for me this past fall when dealing with my injury. They all inspired me to realize that my high school career was not over just yet.
5) What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?
In the future, I plan to compete at Walsh University where I will study Political Science in preparation for law school. In cross country, I hope to be able to be part of a national qualifying team this fall. An even bigger goal of mine would be to help Walsh advance to nationals all four of my years there. Individually, I hope to someday become a cross country D2 All-American. For track, I hope to compete in the 5,000 and 10,000. Time goals for those would be to go sub 14:30 in the 5k and sub 30:00 in the 10k. As a freshman, though, I would like to go sub 15 in the 5k and sub 31:00 in the 10k if I have the opportunity to run it. I also have the goal of being a 10k All-American on the track someday.
6) What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?
The key piece of advice I would give to a younger athlete is that you cannot want it too much. For example, you cannot want it so bad you run hard every single day. You cannot want it so bad that you are so nervous before races you cannot perform. You cannot want it so bad that even a small PR is not good enough. You cannot want it so bad that you put outlandish expectations on yourself that you have no chance of achieving. The biggest thing I have learned from my experience is that you cannot obsess to the point you are never happy with your results. Of course, you need to be dedicated to your running and your cross training plans. That is a given. However, you cannot want to succeed so much that you will never actually be good enough for your expectations.