Drew Roberts is a 2019 Mapleton grad, who's coming off a solid freshman cross country season for Walsh University. Roberts, the 3200 State Champion at the D3 level during his senior year of high school, recently competed at the Division 2 NCAA Championships as part of Walsh's qualifying team.
MileSplit caught up with Drew upon his return from Sacramento to discuss the ups and downs of his first season of college competition, as well as what's in store for him next.
What was it like competing at the National Championship? Walk us through your race.
"The whole experience of traveling out to California, bonding with my teammates during the trip and taking in all of the excitement that comes along with a national level meet was really fun. While my own particular race didn't go perfectly according to plan, I value the knowledge that I gained from this venture and I believe I'll be able to use this to my advantage in the future. Race day was warm and we competed on a fast course and the pace went out hard. Overall, it was encouraging to be apart of this situation, yet humbling in that it showed me that I have a lot of work to do to truly reach the highest level of Division 2. All this being said, I'm very happy with how it worked out."
How did you adapt to the 10k distance? Now that you've raced a few of them, is there anything you learned about how to better approach them in the future?
"I really enjoy the 10k distance, but I still need to work on figuring out what my best strategy will be. During my first few, I was too tentative due to the unknown of what those last few km would feel like. During that mid-part of the race from about 3k to 8k, I need to do a better job of trusting my training and approach that portion of the race more aggressively in the future."
Aside from the national meet, give us a breakdown of your freshman season.
"Overall, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to be able to race at Notre Dame and I enjoyed moving up from the 5k distance in high school to 8k's throughout the regular part of the college season. I had a lot of good races early, but I started to feel the effects of all the training and racing by the end of things. Again, this shows me where I need to focus on to improve moving forward."
What were your biggest highlights and what did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
"The biggest lesson I can take away from the season is that I need to continue to demonstrate patience, both in my training and my racing. I feel like I got into the best shape of my life, but I may have overreached during some work-outs when it wasn't really necessary to do so. As a positive, I was often able to manage my effort effectively in the early stages of races, where I went out slower early but picked up my pacing and ultimately passed lots of runners in the later portion of my races."
Talk about how your time at Mapleton may have helped you get off to a good start during your college career.
"I really credit my high school coaches and of course my family for having helped me be ready to have a successful start to my college career. The coaching staff at Mapleton were very supportive to me during my recruiting process and they always kept things positive and encouraging, so I'm very grateful to them for that. I actually went back to Mapleton recently to participate in a banner presentation during homecoming. It's great to still feel a connection to my high school."
The last time we saw you in high school competition, you took the Division 3 win in the 3200 at the State Championship meet. What did that experience do for you? Did you derive a lot of confidence from earning that victory?
"Winning the 3200 at the state meet was a huge confidence booster for me. Beyond the accolades that come along with winning a state championship, I'm arguably just as proud of the fact that during that race I can truly say that I finished on empty. Following that race, I began to realize that I had the capability to really make an impact at the college level. This was further demonstrated during a workout in the summer with the Walsh team where I actually set my 2 mile pr on the track during a time trial, where I ran a time of 9:11."
What goals do you want to accomplish moving forward?
"Mainly I want to continue to be apart of national championship qualifying teams. I also want to become a leader within the Walsh program and as our veteran members move on after graduation, I want to be able to fill their shoes and provide the newer, younger guys on the team with the same guidance and support that I've received. In terms of individual goals, I'd like to earn All-America status later on in my college career and team-wise, I think that we have the capability of becoming a top 10 squad nationally."
What are your plans for track? Will you be competing during indoor and outdoor and what events specifically interest you at this time?
"Yes, I'm really looking forward to the upcoming track seasons. I'll most likely have a lighter indoor schedule, but I'm looking forward to getting experience that can propel me into a successful outdoor campaign. In terms of what events I'll be contesting, I'm open minded to whatever the coaching staff has planned for me, but I'd like to key in on some 3k and 5k races if it were up to me to see how I'd do."