Men’s cross-country runner used cancelled season to grow

LU men’s cross-country runner Ryan Drew has excelled at every level as an athlete, but since his transfer to Liberty University, his success has progressed to a completely new level.

Drew is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and graduated from Floyd E. Kellam High School, where he placed ninth in the 6A state cross-country meet. Now a senior at LU, Drew transferred from Virginia Military Institute before his junior year. 

At VMI, Drew’s schedule was often packed with both the regular challenges of college as a student-athlete and additional military duties and training. 

Now that he is at Liberty, he is able to focus on his responsibilities as a student-athlete and his spiritual life.

“After spending a year at VMI, I just knew it wasn’t going to be my best career spot in the long run, and once (I looked) at Liberty, I fell in love with the place right away because of the environment and being able to run for God,” Drew said. “Also (at VMI), you have to worry about things like military duties, and being at Liberty is just school and running. At VMI the military duties, school and running was just too much for me.”

The transfer to Liberty turned out to be a great decision for Drew’s running career.

“Just being at Liberty with all the new students here and my coaches and teammates, it’s just been probably the best thing that has ever happened to me,”
Drew said.

Since arriving at LU, Drew has acquired many accolades, including making the ASUN 1st Team All-Conference and running the 8k in under 25 minutes. In addition to his performance in cross-country, Drew has also brought his high intensity training to the indoor track. 

“I think my greatest accomplishments this past indoor season (were) winning both the 3k and the mile at the ASUN conference meet,” Drew said.

Drew is now the first Liberty Flame to win those two events at the same conference meet since 2010, when Sam Chelanga won both those events in the
Big South. 

Ryan Drew with Cross Country is photographed on Athlete Media Day on Thursday August 22, 2019. (Photo by KJ Jugar)

After such a great season, Drew’s confidence was at an all-time high before the COVID-19 ASUN cancellations, which came as a disappointment as the Liberty cross-country team hoped to make it to nationals as a team.

“My main emotions when I found out were heartbreak and devastation,” Drew said. “As a team we were training so hard over the summer, and I felt it was going to be our (breakout) season, because our goals were to win conference, place top six in regionals and the main goal was to make it to nationals as a team.”   

Although all ASUN fall sports have been cancelled, Drew and his teammates are still training as if the season is taking place, driven by the leadership of men’s cross-country Head Coach Isaac Wendland.

“Although it’s a bummer we can’t compete, it’s been good on how we can prepare for the future,” Wendland said. “We’ve really worked hard this fall and I’d say we’ve worked (more) this fall than we would have if we had a season.” 

Emmanuel Adamson is a Social Media Manager. Follow him on Twitter at @Eadamson12.

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