KINGWOOD — Preston High senior Ward Ries has a knack for running.
An accomplished athlete, he has qualified for four state meets during his high school career, attending the WVSSAC Class AAA cross-country and track and field championships twice each, earning a 10th place finish in cross-country his junior year and fifth place his senior season.
Now, with his prep career almost complete, he decided that he has more in him and signed with NCAA Division II Edinboro (Pa.) University.
“They are a distance powerhouse in track and cross-country,” Ries said of the program.
After deciding to take the step to the next level, Ries began searching for the right fit collegiately, both academically and athletically.
“I visited several colleges in several states over the past year,” Ries said. “Through overnight visits and regular campus visits, I decided on Edinboro because of their great coaches, close-knit team, excellent facilities and their history of winning.”
For Ries, the decision to move on with his athletic career was an easy one. Running has become a focal point of his everyday life.
“The sport of running means basically everything to me at this point,” he said. “It gives me something to do, and it feels great to do it. I love always being able to run wherever I am, regardless of weather, location or facilities.”
Now Ries looks to leave a legacy behind him at Preston, and is honored to represent his school and community as a collegiate athlete.
“It feels great to be carrying on my running career into college,” Ries said. “I’ve worked really hard to be where I am today, and to continue working hard for a great school will be amazing. It will also be great to represent my town and school. I want to inspire younger runners to work hard and do as I did.”
Specifically, Ries also hopes that he can leave the Preston program in a position to prosper and hopes his teammates will be able to continue their success.
“I just want to throw a shout-out to my high school teammates and remind the underclassmen to continue working hard,” he said. “They’ve got a real shot at doing something special, and I want them to strive for greatness.”
Before Ries hits the course at the college level, however, he still has some work to do. He will compete in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships South Regional and looks to turn some heads at there.
“My [personal record] is currently 16:03, but I intend to break it this Saturday,” Ries said. “I’m running the senior race, and I want to run sub-16. I’m also going to try to win it if I can.”
The regional serves as a qualifying meet for the Foot Locker National Cross-Country Championships.