DIEGO, Calif. — Oklahoma freshman Ryan Poland was named to the U.S. Junior National Cross Country Team Saturday after he finished fifth at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in San Diego. The first-year Sooner is the first ever Oklahoma cross country team member to be named to the U.S. Cross Country team and will compete in the World Cross Country Championships, held March 20 in Punta Umbria, Spain.
Poland covered the 8,000-meter course at Mission Bay Park in a time of 25:16 and was just 28 seconds off the winning time of 24:48, clocked by Erik Olson of Novato, Calif. Poland held a 5:01 mile pace throughout the 8K race. The 2009 Colorado 3A Cross Country state champion, Poland redshirted as a member of the 2010 Oklahoma Cross Country team.
“Coming into the race, the goal was for me to make the national team and we felt like I was fit enough to do it,” said Poland, a native of Denver, Colo. “My plan was to get where I needed to be in the race and stick there. I felt decent although I felt I used too much energy early on. I was able to get into a position where I needed to be heading into the last lap and was able to hold on.
“This experience is amazing, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m excited to see what we can do at the World Championships. Right now I’ll keep training and maybe do a little tune-up at an indoor meet before Worlds. My plan is to funnel into another training rhythm and keep on the level I’ve been at.”
Also competing Saturday for Oklahoma was Poland’s classmate and fellow redshirt, Daniel Nicolls. Nicolls finished 23rd overall with a time of 26:07.