Claimed fastest 1000 meters time in NCAA Div. II history
By Steve Tool
Wallowa County Chieftain
Just how far can 2014 Enterprise High School graduate David Ribich climb? Ribich, a senior track star at Western Oregon University, has set a number of records in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and several WOU records.
He’s also been recognized as NCAA’s Div. II National Athlete of the week, including twice this month alone. Even before 2018, Ribich jointly held the Div. II all-time record as the anchor of the WOU Men’s Distance Relay Medley team and holds Div. II records in the 1000 and 3000 meter races. He has also won a national championship in the 1500 meters.
The first of the two national recognitions is for running the fastest 1000 meters time in NCAA Div. II history. Ribich clocked in at a smoking 2:21.38 at the University of Washington Preview on Jan. 16. Ribich bested runners from such Div. 1 standouts as Stanford, Oregon and Washington on the way to victory.
Ribich’s second recognition is for running a sub-four-minute-mile at 3:58.88. While 500 professional and college runners have also hit the mark, Ribich’s time is the fastest Div. II time in the last 30 years and the second-fastest in Div. II history.
The WOU senior went to the event with the idea of breaking the barrier. His time in the 1500 meters converted to a 3:57 mile time. A roommate paced the race for him. Ribich and the two planned for Ribich to hit the halfway mark at 1:59 and achieve the same time to finish the race.
The runner hit the halfway point at 2:00 flat and kicked up his speed a notch.
“It worked a little differently than we thought it would, but we got the end result we wanted,” Ribich said.
Over the Feb. 10-11 weekend, Ribich set another Div. II national record, this time running the 3000 meter race in a blazing 7:50.8. He wasn’t planning on notching the mark.
“With the 3k, I was really surprised to run in the 7:50s,” Ribich said.
How does Ribich stay motivated as one of the top runners in the nation? He said that the idea of turning his dream and passion into a career helps with his humility and motivation.
He also said his eight-year journey with the support of Wallowa County citizens helps keep his eye on the prize.
“I’m hitting these records and winning titles, but I don’t place too much emphasis on it,” he said. “I just keep working hard and doing the daily things to keep progressing in the sport.”