It didn't take Lyons graduate Paul Roberts long to transfer his historic high school cross country career into success at the collegiate level.
The only male athlete to ever win four consecutive cross country state titles in Colorado preps history, Roberts in now a freshman at CSU-Pueblo, where he runs with his older sister and Lyons alumna Miriam Roberts. At the Colorado Mines Division II Invite on Jan. 28, he won the 3,000-meter race with a time of 8 minutes, 29.86 seconds. His time places him first in the nation in that event among Division-II runners and would be a top 25 time in Division I.
So much for Roberts easing his way into the college running scene.
"It's going really well," Roberts said. "My time last week should get me to nationals. Coach and I sat down at the beginning of the season and the plan was to run the 3K at nationals so it's exciting to make it in and get to experience nationals as a freshman."
Much like he did during his time at Lyons, Roberts is also taking time during his indoor track season to test his mettle at the international level of cross country.
On Saturday, Roberts placed first at the USATF Junior Cross Country Championships with an 8K time of 26:05. The placement qualified him for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships that will be held in Uganda in March.
This will be Roberts' second time representing Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. In 2015, he placed 59th in the event, which was held in China. Since the age cutoff to compete in his current division is that an athlete may not turn 20 in the calendar year of the event, Roberts is 11 days young enough to have a shot at improving on his 2015 finish.
"It's exciting and it's different to do a different meet during track season," Roberts said. "I'm excited to go to Uganda and any time you get to travel to a different country to represent the USA is really cool. I'm focusing on indoor right now but I wanted to do this again. I'm really excited to have the chance to run at the IAAF again."
Also in March, the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships will be held in Birmingham, Ala. Though he is still only a freshman, expect to see Roberts place prominently.