Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Injuries don’t stop UW runner

of Wisconsin cross country runner Ryan Craven epitomizes the grit,
determination and passion of a true long-distance runner.

While the
redshirt sophomore’s first few seasons as a member of the Badgers have flown by
largely under the radar, the hard work he has put in has begun to pay huge
dividends. Craven is hungry to make a major impact on this year’s team, which
is ranked No. 6 nationally and No. 2 in the United States Track and Field and
Cross Country Coaches Association preseason rankings.

his freshman year as a member of the UW cross country and track teams, Craven’s
accolades were undeniable: a third-place finish at the country’s most
prestigious high school cross country race, the Foot Locker Cross Country
National Championships, in 2005; a second-place finish at the 2005 Illinois
State Cross Country Meet; a fourth-place finish at the 2004 state cross country
championships — the list goes on and on. The sky was the limit coming into his
freshman year at Wisconsin.


though, the sad reality of life as a distance runner set in for Craven during
his senior season of track in high school. The hard training he had put in took
a toll on his body, and he suffered the consequences of constant nagging injuries.

was brutal,” Craven said. “My whole first year I was injured more than I was
healthy and as a result, I didn’t get to train much.”

injuries would eventually lead Craven to decide to redshirt his entire freshman
year, which would be his wisest decision as it would allow him to acclimate to
the training and get used to the rigors of being an NCAA Division I runner on a
perennial national championship contender.

taking extended time off for the first time in his running career, Craven
entered his freshman season of NCAA eligibility excited. Yet, Craven was still
unsure of himself and his ability to prepare his body for the hell that is NCAA
cross country and track at its highest levels.

“I still didn’t know how to train at
level and I was way in over my head. The whole process has been such a huge
learning experience,” Craven said.

As a
result, Craven spent most of his second year as a runner on the B-team, or the
non-traveling squad, training hard on a daily basis but frustrated at his
body’s inability to progress to the next level.

being part of the A-team was tough to swallow at first. I put in a lot of effort
and to have it not pan out is tough,” Craven said. “At the same time, I was
very supportive of the rest of the team. It really is bittersweet. In the back
of my mind, I knew that I could be up there doing the same thing.”

Craven, who now has sophomore standing, has turned the corner.

fact that] Ryan is older and stronger [makes a huge difference]. Ryan has been
brought along slowly, with the intention to help the team now and contribute
big time. He has the potential to be a member of our team’s top nine for
the Big Ten championships, and in the top seven for both regionals and nationals,”
said new men’s cross country coach Mick Byrne. “He has come into this
season in tremendous shape and put in the hard work this offseason. It’s
now up to him to put the hard work to good use. From what I’ve seen, he is
ready to do that. The more guys we have pushing for top five spots, the
better for our team.”

being at the bottom of the team’s pecking order for the majority of his first
couple seasons, Craven is happy with the pleasant changing of the guard.

“I’m just
excited to be part of the clan. It has been two years of a lot of frustration.
I want to get out there and prove that I can run [fast],” Craven said. “Our
team is looking solid, and I think that the team can do great things and I’m
excited to be part of it,”

of how this season goes, Craven has proven that his name is mention-worthy and
belongs in the same sentence with the Badgers’ top runners. With three seasons of cross country and
track eligibility remaining, watch out for Craven’s name alongside
upper-echelon NCAA runners nationwide. 
Craven has worked too hard to get to where he is today to have it any
other way.

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