Big things expected for sophomore at Griak

David La

At the blackjack table, Minnesota’s Will McComb would hit on a pair of face cards.
Faced with the option of truth or dare, the sophomore cross country runner would choose dare every time.
And his devil-may-care mentality makes McComb perfect for the distance running fold.
“Back in middle school someone dared me to run the 3,000-meter race and I ended up winning it,” McComb said.
McComb also retained his penchant for immediate impact, being named Big Ten freshman of the year last season after recording the top finish of any newcomer at the conference meet.
The solid 14th-place finish gave McComb’s injury-marred first year a respectable ending. In fact, he was plagued by an injury he likened to a “really bad shin-splint.”
The injury never allowed McComb to train effectively last summer, leaving him at less than top form throughout the season.
But somewhere during the race, McComb got reacquainted with his gunslinger ways.
“I found myself feeling good at Big Ten’s with half a race to go,” McComb said. “So I just went for it.”
Rejuvenated by his showing, McComb trained well this summer and is worth watching during meets this fall.
“(McComb) has the credentials,” coach Steve Plasencia said. “It’ll be interesting what we can do with him this year after a healthy summer.”
McComb is ready to trade in carefree runs for consistent marks. He finished second at the Lester Park Invitational, but isn’t satisfied.
This weekend’s Roy Griak Invitational gives a healthier McComb a meet of top competition with which to gauge himself.
Minnesota finished a disappointing 14th at the Griak last season, and McComb looks for a revival for himself and his team.
“I’m trying to redeem myself at the Griak I guess you could say,” McComb said, “and definitely make an impact there and in the races to come.
“When you have one race and fall apart, people say,`He was lucky.’ But if you can consistently pull off good races, that’s when you begin to be recognized as a high caliber runner.”
McComb was a high caliber runner in his native Ontario, a seven-time provincial champion in the 1500-meter (3) and 3,000-meter (4) runs. He trained with current Gophers teammate and fellow Ontario native Andrew McKessock.
McKessock has blossomed into one of Minnesota’s top competitors, turning in the best performance of any Gophers runner at the NCAA meet last year.
McComb is striving for McKessock’s level of consistency and wants to be one of the team’s top runners.
“When people expect something from you and you can pull through for them, its a really good feeling,” McComb said.
Just don’t dare him.

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]