Anyone who has followed the track and cross-country college career of 2014 Enterprise High School graduate David Ribich has to wonder what hills he has remaining to climb. Plenty as it turns out.
In a recent spate of awards, the Western Oregon University senior won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title in Bellingham, Wash. Ribich’s closest competitor was nearly six seconds behind him. Ribich’s efforts, along with those of his teammates, allowed WOU to take the team crown from seven-time champions, Alaska Anchorage University.
Not satisfied to rest on the laurels, Ribich went all-out for a Nov. 4 victory over all comers in the 10,000-meter West Region Cross-Country title race with a time of 29:49.2 –– eight seconds ahead of his nearest competitor Kyle Medina of Chico State, who placed 11th in the nationals last year. Ribich’s win was the first individual cross-country win in WOU history and the first time a non-AAU runner has won the race since 2007.
Ribich said a comment from Medina helped him push harder in the race. Medina had said he didn’t assume Ribich would be much of a threat because of his focus on the 1500-meter race in track and field. Ribich won the NCAA Div. II national title in the event last year. Ribich spoke to him after the race.
“I told him that Western runners don’t categorize themselves as event specialists,” Ribich said. “We count ourselves as race specialists. Put us in a race, and we’re going to do everything we can to race it no matter what the distance.” He added that the comment from the runner was fuel on the fire, but was also white noise because he didn’t run the race differently because of it.
With the regional win, Ribich qualified to compete at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships Nov. 18, in Evansville, Ind.
Along with those accolades, Ribich was also voted the regional cross-country athlete of the year.
“If you told me that I’d win that in cross-country before track, I would have laughed,” he said.
Ribich is not only a gifted athlete, he shines in the academic world as well, sporting a 3.41 GPA. If his athletic awards aren’t enough, he can also lay claim to his selection to the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross-Country All-Academic Teams.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” said EHS cross-country and track coach Dan Moody. “He’s a very hard worker, goal-oriented. He knows what he wants and goes after it.”
Enterprise High School is showing the National Cross-country Championship on TV at the school this Saturday at 9:30 a.m.