Fly, Tony, fly: Ram alum making history
Soon-to-be University of Saint Mary senior Tony Weber (Pleasant Ridge High School class of 2014) has taken his love of and gifts in running to the heights for the Spires’ track and cross country programs.
Weber is a five-time All-American heading into his final collegiate athletic campaign. He has a chance to add to quite a resume which includes All-American honors in both outdoor track (2016-17) and cross country (2016) while excelling in the 10,000- and 5,000-meter runs and the marathon.
This spring, Weber finished third in the 10,000-meter run. He took fourth in the indoor track 5,000-meter run earlier in the season.
He is the most decorated cross country track athlete in USM history in terms of All-American honors and helped the harriers to a second-place finish at the 2015 NAIA cross country national finals.
“College cross country and track is what I expected it to be, and that is, challenging,” said Weber, a six-time Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champion. “Making the adjustment from high school to college took me a while because it was much more challenging and required much harder training than I had ever been through. But I have learned a lot through this experience and I have really enjoyed my athletic career here at Saint Mary.”
He had to decide between a number of options when he knew he would leave Pleasant Ridge to take his running to the next level.
“When making my decision out of high school to go to a couple of DII college choices I had at the time or go to Saint Mary to compete in the NAIA, I knew that no matter which option I picked that it was going to be challenging,” Weber said. “It was my goal out of high school that no matter where I went, I wanted to become an All-American. That was my main goal. No matter which division you compete in, there is always going to be talented athletes that you are going to face. Competing in the NAIA has been just as challenging as I thought it would be. It was very humbling coming out of high school and competing in college, but it only made me want to get better.”
Weber parlayed his goals into also earning a USM school record in the 3K (8:41) in outdoor track and is a second off of the indoor 5K, outdoor 5K and 10K Saint Mary marks.
“College sports take a lot of determination and self-discipline, if you want to keep improving and compete with the top athletes,” Weber said. “It's not just running all the mileage and workouts every day, week after week that coach has us do, but you also have to take care of your body constantly. You have to eat healthy and get good sleep, while staying on top of homework, and maybe working a job as well, which can be challenging for college students to balance.
“For cross country and track athletes we are competing year around (cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter, outdoor track in the spring), so it is important to constantly stay focused on doing the workouts and taking care of your body, and making smart decisions.”
One of those decisions was going to USM after building a number of fond memories as a Ram in Easton.
“I remember when I first got into running my freshmen year of high school,” Weber said. “Growing up I always wanted to be a football player, and when I began to discover a new talent in running, I really enjoyed learning about this sport that was so new to me. I remember how much I improved from freshmen to senior year, and all the ups and downs that I had to go through to achieve my goal of winning state my senior year in the 3,200 meters, and how amazing it felt to finally achieve that goal that I wasn't sure was possible. I have used these memories from high school to help me get through tough times that I have faced in college.”
And in college he has helped build an improving USM program.
“The Saint Mary cross country and track program has come a long way since it first started about six years ago,” Weber said. “It has been a blessing to be a part of such as great team with an amazing coach and teammates. For us being a new team, we have become one of the best teams in the KCAC and I have gained attention across the nation. There's no other team I would rather be on.”