Rombough leaves strong legacy as he hopes for 5th All-American honor

The senior runner has racked up the accolades in his time with the cross-country and track teams.

Derek Wetmore

As a senior in high school, Chris Rombough made a decision to sign with his intra-border rivals and has never looked back. The Fremont, Wis., native opted to sign with the Gophers instead of his home-state Badgers and has a maroon and gold âÄúMâÄù tattooed on his thigh to display his loyalty. The decision has worked out well for both Minnesota and Rombough, as the senior captain has racked up four All-American honors and is in search of his fifth this outdoor season. While Rombough was still in high school, Minnesota menâÄôs track and field and cross country head coach Steve Plasencia visited his family and went to several track meets to convince Rombough that Minnesota was the place for him. âÄúChris holds a special place for me because he was really the first kid with big high school credentials who signed on with us,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúI think that [recruiting him] was a great decision for us.âÄù Rombough said he signed early with Minnesota because it was a school where he could make an immediate impact while still joining a strong program. The Gophers were strong enough that he could eventually compete at the top level. âÄúI knew I wouldnâÄôt be the top guy when I first came in,âÄù Rombough said. âÄúI wasnâÄôt really looking for that.âÄù Current teammate, roommate and fellow Wisconsin native Matt Barrett said that Rombough signing with Minnesota influenced his own collegiate decision because Rombough was, at the time, the âÄúbest runner in the state of Wisconsin.âÄù In his time with the Gophers, Rombough has competed in both cross country and track, winning the 2006 individual Big Ten championship for cross country. âÄúMy goal when I came here was to eventually win a Big Ten championship individually,âÄù Rombough said. âÄúBut winning in âÄô06 was just as unexpected to me as it was to everyone else in the Big Ten.âÄù Rombough received an All-American award in indoor track for the 3,000-meter run in the 2009 indoor season, and he was bestowed with three All-American honors in cross country. He also earned the Fred O. Watson award as the cross-country teamâÄôs most valuable player in three different seasons, the first ever Minnesota athlete to accomplish that feat. âÄúAt the time I finished my cross country season, earning that third MVP was pretty special because there have been a lot of great runners to come out of Minnesota,âÄù Rombough said. Rombough is a co-captain of this yearâÄôs outdoor track team after serving as a captain for cross country as well. âÄú[His captainship] is well-deserved,âÄù Barrett said. âÄúHeâÄôs always been a great leader and a guy who has always worked hard and his times show it. You donâÄôt get to that level without hard work.âÄù âÄúHeâÄôs a great-attitude guy and he buys into the program and what weâÄôre doing,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúOther guys look up to him. I really see guys that want to emulate him.âÄù âÄúEven eating and sleeping-wise, little stuff like that that maybe goes unnoticed by people, IâÄôve picked up from Chris,âÄù Barrett said. Rombough has succeeded on the track as well as in the classroom, but balancing the life of a student-athlete can be difficult. âÄúItâÄôs very tough. People donâÄôt realize how much work we put into it,âÄù Rombough said. Rombough said people often overlook what comes with living the lifestyle of an athlete: making sure the body receives eight hours of sleep, dedication to proper nutrition and avoiding unhealthy behaviors. âÄúYouâÄôre pretty much an athlete 24 hours a day.âÄù When Rombough does find time to fit in academics, he is hard at work completing his coaching and communications degree from the College of Continuing Education in time to graduate this spring. After graduating, Rombough said he plans to run professionally with Team USA Minnesota, a team that includes former Gophers Antonio Vega and Heather Dorniden . âÄúRight now the focus is helping the team out in Big Tens and hopefully getting to nationals and doing well enough to get another All-American certificate,âÄù Rombough said. âÄúAll-American is definitely the goal going into each season for me and my hard work pays off in the end.âÄù Rombough will complete his final season of eligibility by competing for the Gophers in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships beginning May 14. With his eye on the national championships this June, Rombough will look to cement his legacy among the best of Minnesota track and field, a legacy that has already been clearly defined in cross country.