Bobby Over was told early on if he worked hard he could earn All-American status by the time he was a senior.
The Allegheny cross country runner couldn’t wait. He earned the honor as a sophomore and junior and capped his career last weekend by picking up his third straight All-America accolade.
The 2009 Wadsworth graduate finished ninth out of 275 runners at the NCAA Division II Championships in Hanover, Ind., to close his collegiate career on a high note.
While the finish was not what Over wanted, the 23-year-old now has another medal in his collection.
“I’m a little disappointed because I had higher expectations, but it’s still a big honor to say that I’m one of the best runners in the country,” he said. “It’s something I never thought would happen, and it’s hard to put in a perspective.”
When Over started his collegiate career at Heidelberg, he already was an accomplished runner as a three-time All-Gazette selection. Still, he never ran at the state meet and ended his high school career with an empty feeling.
“I was sick of losing,” he said. “Going to college was a fresh start for me. I knew I could be a better runner.”
He proved that immediately running in his first national championship meet with Heidelberg. The 5-foot-9, 132-pounder then transferred to Allegheny and his career took off. He placed 17th in the 2011 D-III meet and earned national runner-up last fall.
Last Saturday, the fifth-year senior clocked 25:01 in the 8K race to help the Gators to 18th.
“I went into the summer of my first year joining a (Heidelberg) program that expects to qualify for nationals each year, so I had to make sure that happened,” Over said. “From there, it just picked up, I guess. I finally started to believe in myself.”
As a senior, Over also won the Mideast Regional for a third straight year and picked up his second North Coast Athletic Conference title. His finish Saturday was the third best in Allegheny history, and he now owns two of the top three all-time spots at the Meadville, Pa., school.
Not too shabby for a runner that never finished higher than 25th in a regional meet for Wadsworth.
“The biggest thing for me is that I haven’t had any major injuries,” said Over, who has eligibility left to run outdoor track in the spring, where he will compete in the steeple chase. “I’ve had consistent training over the last five years, and it’s been a good experience running.
“Winning my third straight regional, I’ve never been happier after a race than I was after that one,” he continued. “Every runner wants to win every race, and usually that doesn’t happen, but to be able to put it together like I did every Saturday was great.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.