Sophomore Fernando Roman made quite the statement at his first cross country meet with Kansas State.
A little more than two weeks ago, Roman placed first at the JK Gold Classic with a 6k time of 18:37 — earning him Big 12 Runner of the Week.
“It was a surprise for me,” said Roman, who is from Cayey, Puerto Rico. “Honestly, I didn’t even know that that award existed.”
Roman was recruited to K-State for outdoor track and cross country, arriving in Manhattan last January.
He said he was excited to have such a strong showing in his first meet with the cross country team after spending last spring’s track season adjusting to Kansas. Roman also didn’t think he ran very well last spring, something he wanted to change this fall.
“I felt really good about everything that happened (in the first meet), because I came here last semester and I wasn’t really having a good semester,” he said. “I was adapting to everything here. I was working really hard over the summer, so it was a good way to start the semester — the hard work had paid off.”
K-State head cross country coach Michael Smith said he has confidence in Roman and his abilities to run well. With so much of the season remaining, Smith said he’s looking forward to seeing what Roman is made of as the Wildcats go forward.
“He didn’t surprise me,” Smith said about the win at the JK Gold Classic. “He trained very hard over the summer, and he’s in good shape, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to win races or you’re a great racer, it just means you’re in good shape. So I felt that he prepared himself very well to be successful.”
Coming from the mountainous island of Puerto Rico, the flat plains of Kansas have been a big change for Roman, but the change has been a positive one in terms of training terrain.
“I like Manhattan a lot, I think it’s a great place, especially for long distance runners,” said Roman, who was the top K-State runner this past Saturday at the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. “It’s a great place to be. We have a lot of room to go run, dirt roads, open roads — I like it a lot.”
This past weekend Roman helped the Wildcats to a seventh-place finish in Lincoln. The Wildcats will hit the road again on Sept. 29 when they travel to Lawrence to compete in the Rim Rock Invitational.