One step at a time: Woodbury’s Roshon Roomes finds his love for track and field at Iowa State
Roshon Roomes never imagined being in this position.
Roomes is at the top of his game with the Iowa State University track and field team, but he's not done yet. His goals and aspirations extend further than college and records.
There are dreams of being an Olympic athlete and Roomes is ready to make those dreams a reality.
"I'm so happy to be able to get up every morning and continue doing a sport I love," Roomes said. "It's a dream come true."
Roomes started his journey in Mesa, Ariz., where he was born and raised. During his childhood, he had his sights set on becoming an NFL player.
Due to his size, he was placed at wide receiver and cornerback. Roomes' parents encouraged him to try a different sport during the offseason to condition for football, so Roomes decided to go out for the track and field team.
After his freshman year of high school, the Roomes family moved to Woodbury and as a sophomore, Roomes was enrolled at Woodbury High School. Once he made the move to Minnesota, he became more serious about track.
"I loved track and field practices because everything felt natural to me," Roomes said. "I realized that football might not be the career for me, so I took track and field more seriously when I became an upperclassman at Woodbury."
The move to Minnesota though was difficult for Roomes because everything changed for him. He went from scorpions, snakes and hot weather to lakes, birds and bitter cold temperatures.
He relied on his younger brother quite a bit as he was making the transition. Roomes has two older brothers as well, but his younger brother was only a year younger than him.
For Roomes, he looked at the move as being able to hit the reset button on his career. He was able to focus more attention on track and field and continue his passion for running.
"It was difficult to move in high school to a brand new state," Roomes said. "But I had great support from family and it made the transition easier for me and allowed me to focus more on track and field."
He started off doing sprints like the 100-meter dash and the 200, as well as long jump. His coaches started to have him do mid-distance running once he became older and Roomes focused on the 400 and 800 runs, while he was doing a variety of field events.
It never came easy though as Roomes faced injuries every year in high school. Those injuries changed his mentality of how to prepare for each race, but he knew he'd never quit.
"I never thought of quitting with these injuries," Roomes said. "Track was everything to me and I couldn't imagine my life without the sport."
Roomes had hamstring injuries his sophomore and junior year. He thinks that came from acclimating to the colder temperatures of Minnesota and not giving himself enough time to stretch properly.
Before his senior year, Roomes worked with a personal trainer to help him focus on how to prevent injuries and be able to run his best for the season. He reached his lowest times in the 400 during his senior year.
Roomes went from 56 seconds his sophomore year to 50 seconds his junior and finally reached a low of 49 seconds his senior year. He continued to improve each year in high school, but that injury bug came back again in his senior year as he dealt with a knee and hip injury.
With three key injuries in three straight seasons, Roomes thought he faced the worst in his ups and downs as a runner. He wasn't even close to what he had to face his freshman year in college.
"I knew my times weren't on a Division I level for college," Roomes said. "So I focused on going to a school that had a strong engineering program."
He found Iowa State University and loved the campus and the programs for engineering. He decided that he wanted to head to Ames, Iowa, for the next four years of his life.
When Roomes told one of his Woodbury coaches about his college decision, he told him that he knew the jumps coach at Iowa State. The Iowa State coach wasn't loving Roomes' times and distances during his high school career, so Roomes had to train on his own to try and make the team.
"That was the hardest adversity I had to fight in my life," Roomes said. "I had no idea if I was ever going to be on the team again and that's the part that pushed me and scared me the most."
Roomes joined the running club at Iowa State to help him with staying with a system and meeting new people on campus. Throughout the year, he sprained his ankle with the team, but he continued to keep running.
He reached the national event that year and won the 400 overall. Roomes ran his best time at the event and it allowed him to gain some confidence as he prepared for the next year in hopes of making the Division I team.
Roomes was at the point where he continued working hard on making the team, but the future wasn't looking good until he decided to make a phone call. He called one of the coaches with the thought that he was going to transfer schools and the coach told him to stay because they had a spot on the team for him.
"It was one of the greatest phone calls of my life," Roomes said. "It lit a fire under me to run the best I could and the rest is history."
During his sophomore year, Roomes dealt with many adjustments. The training program was something he never experienced before and it showed towards the end of the season.
He didn't have his best times at the Big 12 Championships and had a "sophomore slump" that didn't meet any of his goals. Roomes met some of the coaches' goals, but he felt disappointed about his season.
At the end of his sophomore year, Roomes met with his coaches and realized he burned out at the big meets at the end of the season and they needed to restructure his workout schedule for his junior year. That restructuring worked because Roomes had his best season so far during his junior year.
He finished third in the 800 at the Big 12 Championships, which allowed him to advance to the NCAA Championships. Roomes was also a part of the 4x400 relay that placed second and went to the NCAA Championships as well.
"This was my most complete season so far," Roomes said. "I haven't accomplished all of my goals and I'm preparing myself to achieve those goals this upcoming season during my senior year."
Roomes will always appreciate the support he receives from not only friends and coaches, but his family too. His parents try to come to different meets throughout the year and they always talk to him after meets to encourage him in any way. His younger brother is at the University of Minnesota and focusing on long jump, so the two of them always have a fun time competing against one another and encouraging each other.
With his senior year coming up in the 2019-20 school year, Roomes is looking at the year similar to his junior year. He's preparing the same way and has a simple mindset.
"I'm approaching every meet like it's my last race during my senior year," Roomes said. "This sport has challenged me because it pushes my limits. I'm just going to see where that takes me this upcoming season."
Football was a natural sport for Roomes and it came a little easier. Track and field didn't come that easily for him and that's the reason he loves the sport so much.
After his senior year, Roomes doesn't want to hang the running shoes up quite yet. Instead, he's focusing on a possible run to make the Olympic team. He understands it's going to be a tough road to reach that point of making the team, but he also knows it's going to be a fun journey to get there.
"I've faced plenty of ups and downs during my track and field career," Roomes said. "I've enjoyed every second of this sport and I want to go as far as I can in this sport. I'm looking forward to my senior year and what the sport brings in the future after this upcoming year."