In one week, senior Tyler Melius will run in his first cross-country race on Slippery Rock University’s home course at Cooper’s Lake Campground.
Despite his wide variety of athletic involvement, Melius never participated in cross-country.
Melius has been on the SRU track and field team for three years, but has never made the transition into cross-country until now.
Melius is a safety and environmental management major at the Rock, and is also working on a Spanish minor.
After this season, he will have three years of National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility left in the sport if he chooses to stay and compete.
Melius said that this is a possibility, but that it would be a big decision for him.
For the past three years that he has spent at SRU, Melius has put a lot of time and hard work into his track and field career. Being a middle distance runner for the team, he has competed in events from the 400-meter all the way up to the mile, with the 800 meter being his favorite.
“My favorite memory from the sport was when my 4×800 meter relay team won first place at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference meet my sophomore year,” Melius said. “The men’s team as a whole also had a great meet that day which makes it a great memory.”
In addition to this great accomplishment, he is also the school record holder for the 4×800 meter relay, along with Morgan Elliott, Dalton Zebrak and Kevin Jewel.
The squad ran the distance of 3,200 meters in 7:41:85 in 2013.
Entering the new sport, Melius has a wide variety of emotions.
“Cross-country is a mentality challenge and introduces a whole new idea of pushing myself,” Melius said. “This will be a longer event than any other race I have run before, so it will be something new to adjust to.”
With this new experience came a summer full of new and improved training.
Melius said that he began running distance workouts during track season and carried that over to this summer.
One of the major changes he made this summer was running more miles.
One comment that Melius made was that he ran alone this summer and really enjoyed it.
“Running alone is my favorite, because it allows me to pay attention to my body and focus on my pace and what’s going on in my workout,” Melius said. “This has also helped me self-motivate myself and become more dependent on myself.”
Looking ahead to this season might still be a little early considering the team doesn’t race until Sep. 12, but Melius already has his eye on some big goals.
“I would definitely like to be an All-Conference and All Region runner this season,” Melius said. “In addition, I would like to overall improve in the new sport and carry my success from track season into this cross-country season.”
As for the rest of the group, Melius believes that the men will do well this season.
“We have a solid top group of guys on our team and the rest of the team has a lot of depth,” Melius said. “As a team, we would like to finish at the top of our conference and ultimately qualify for Nationals.”
The men’s team is very excited for their season to begin in just one week. With a strong leader like Tyler Melius leading the pack, the Rock plans to surprise the conference this year.