David Mannella, sophomore member of the cross-country team, recently broke the 8K school record at the 2021 Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With a personal best time of 25:16, Mannella captured a second-place individual finish and earned himself a first-team All-Conference honor.
Most importantly, he earned a bid to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships.
Mannella has been consistent throughout this whole season with three top three finishes and his hard work is paying off in the long run. But he admits he never imagined breaking a school record.
“It is just kind of weird that I ran as fast as I ran because I never thought it would be possible,” Mannella said.
Je’Kel Smith, head coach, explains that Mannella sets himself apart from his competition and steps up in big moments.
“He wants it more than anyone in every race,” Smith said. “He feeds off the competition and knows how to step up in big races.”
This sophomore is also relatively new to distance running but has found his stride very quickly.
“Last year was my first full cross-country season and it was just getting used to the whole longer distance and higher mileage, Mannella said. “So, it is lots of improvement from the first year to the second year because my body is much more used to it and I am figuring out how to do it more.”
As he started running in 8th grade for track, he slowly started running longer distance throughout high school then slowly progressed to cross country to find great success.
Even as a young athlete, Coach Smith thinks Mannella is learning to become a leader and brings energy for his teammates.
“Despite being the number one runner on the team right now, he takes the time to pump up the guys as much as he can and knows how,” Smith said.
Mannella is currently running in the NAIA Cross Country National Championships on Friday in Vancouver, Wash.