Ro Paschal of Mancos finished 175th out of 335 runners Friday in the 2019 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ cross-country championships in Fort Vancouver Historic Site, Washington.
Paschal ran the 8K (5 miles) course in 26 minutes, 56.9 seconds for Morningside College and head coach Dave Nash. Teammate Connor Ritz of Sioux City, Iowa, finished 189th, at 27:03.4. Mark Shaw of Oklahoma City won the race with a time of 24:39.5.
Morningside has qualified for the championship for 14 consecutive years. Ritz competed in the finals last year. Paschal ran two seasons for Division II Adams State University.
Before the race, Paschal said he wanted to show his teammates some of that competitive energy that harkens to his Adams State days. “I’ve been getting that old fire back through each meet,” he said. “I think it helps show the guys where we could be if we compete at a high level. This has been a great opportunity all the way around. Connor pushes me, which is what I need … we got out and put in around 55-60 miles a week,” he added. “The rest of the team sees that, too, and is beginning to challenge one another.”
Ritz entered the race with a refreshed mindset. “Last year, it was all about understanding what it was all about. ... I feel like one of the reasons for my success this year is due to the leadership role that Ro and I have (on the men’s team),” he added. “It’s a different feeling and focuses when you have other people leaning on you. We have to go out and show our best, so the younger guys understand what the program is trying to accomplish.”