NAMPA, Idaho – Treyson Conley and Tyler Shea aren’t exactly the most talkative student-athletes at Northwest Nazarene.
That doesn’t stop them from being leaders on the men’s cross country team, however.
The sophomores are taking on a big role this fall on a team loaded with youth, and they aren’t taking their responsibility lightly.
“I wouldn’t say I’m trying to be a leader,” Shea said, “it just happens naturally. I think Trey and I can be leaders by example. We can show the younger guys what it is like to train in college.”
Conley, a 2018 Redmond High graduate, Shea and the rest of the Nighthawks open their season Friday at the College of Southern Idaho Invitational.
“I feel like becoming a leader just happened,” Conley said. “We lost a lot of the team through graduation and a lot of the team is freshmen and transfers. It comes down to Tyler and I and a couple of other returners stepping up a little bit.”
Both Shea and Conley have been running nearly their entire lives.
Shea started cross country in fifth grade and became serious about the sport in high school when he started training year-round for the sport.
“The main thing I like about it is the feeling of accomplishment of doing something hard,” the math and computer science major said.
“When you are on a long run you get into the last couple of miles and you start really feeling good.”
Conley started in sixth grade, but was running before that because he comes from a family of runners.
His mom, Melissa, is the high school cross country coach at Redmond, while his dad, Tim, is the track and field coach at the school. His older sister MaKenna Conley also competed in track and field and cross country at NNU.
“Running is just kind of freeing,” said Conley, a mechanical engineering major. “It’s a time to think; a part of every day to get away from the stress and do something I love with people I like.”
Now both runners are taking their love of running and using it to better themselves and the Nighthawks program.
“They work hard because they like to work hard and they know how to,” said Ben Gall, NNU associate cross country coach. “Those two both worked full-time jobs in the summer and still got in everything they needed to to prepare and I think that is a lot of how they will lead.
“They will help set the tone in terms of the culture of the team.”
Shea has high goals for the Nighthawks this fall. He is hoping the team can place top 10 in the West Region and that he can finish in the top 30 at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet.
Based on his example and work ethic, both of those goals seem like a possibility.
“Their work ethic is contagious at practice,” said Danny Bowman, head cross country coach, “which elevates the performance of the team. They aren’t very outspoken, but they lead by example.
“Our freshmen class and our underclassmen are a good foundation for going forward.”
— Craig Craker is the sports information director at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.