When it comes to iconic distance runners in Leavenworth County, Tony Weber is up there with runners like Amy Cragg as one of the best.
The recent graduate of the University of Saint Mary capped his college career with a runner-up finish in the 10,000 meters and a championship in the marathon at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Alabama this May.
The victory in the marathon was sweeter for Weber after not finishing the previous year. Finishing was a big goal for the Spire as he also juggled finishing his undergraduate at the same time.
“Last year, I got so close and had a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Weber said. “To fall short, I was just really upset and didn't understand why that would happen. But to comeback and be able to redeem myself, I was really proud of that because I had a lot going on just trying to finish school and and start my life and my career.”
Crossing the finish line brought a relieved feeling for Weber to get to that moment and when it finally happened, it brought happiness.
In reflecting on his career, Weber first got into distance running toward the end of his freshman year of high school. After dreaming of playing football for many years, Weber realized that he could have a future in running after qualifying for state in the 3,200 meters. He would fall in love with it and continue through high school where he set records at Pleasant Ridge High School. Weber would then come to the University of Saint Mary and help grow the Spires’ track program under coach Alstin Benton. Benton, who has had high praise for Weber in the past, considers Weber to be a staple of the community.
“With us having a newer program, Tony came in and took a chance with our program,” Benton said. “He really connected our program with the community. As a state champ in high school, he was a fixture in the track and field community. Coaches in Leavenworth, Lansing and obviously Pleasant Ridge already know who Tony is by him taking a chance with our program. He really legitimized our program for the region which has been really cool.”
With his college career now done, Weber is not done running. The distance runner will continue to run in his spare time away from his job. The runner also has a goal with his running. Weber plans to train to reach the qualifying window for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the marathon. To do this, Weber must run a marathon in 2:19:00 or faster. The race will be in February 2020 in Atlanta.
“That is a big goal of mine,” Weber said. “I am just trying to be able to go there. That would probably be the biggest race I’ve been in competition-wise, just being able to line up against the best runners in the U.S. would be really cool.”
Weber would also like to run in the iconic marathons of Chicago, Boston and New York as the he wants to keep running as long as he can.
Throughout all the running, Weber will use his degree in accounting to work and plans to also get his master’s degree.