'Tibs' On Board At Last
Oct. 15, 2012
SEATTLE - Traveling around the country with all the security lines, layovers, jetlag and hotel study sessions can become repetitive and businesslike for the collegiate athlete. But it is also a privilege, and in a sport like cross country, where a large roster often travels just a small group, it is a cherished one.
When you wait four years to board that first flight, as Bryan Tibaduiza did, those airplane peanuts taste outstanding.
A redshirt junior, Tibaduiza, mostly just known as "Tibs" on the team, made his first ever travel squad last month when the Husky men's cross country team bused it down to Eugene for the Dellinger Invitational. Then this past weekend, he boarded his first flight as Washington traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
"It's really exciting - I feel like a freshman, ready to go," said the Reno, Nevada native.
Tibaduiza faced a brutal run of bad luck with injuries, so much so that he considered giving up the sport, but a change of scenery this summer helped convince him to take one more shot.
Tibaduiza's father, Domingo, has quite the running legacy in his native Colombia, as he competed for the South American nation in four consecutive Olympic Games from 1972 to 1984. Initially, when Domingo thought it was time to get his son into the sport that had brought him so much success, the seven-year-old Bryan didn't always agree. "I hated it and sometimes I would start crying and do anything to not go running," says Bryan. But when he started to see some of his own talent, it took hold. Domingo would coach Bryan through high school, with Bryan winning the Nevada state cross country title as a junior and senior.
His father then started coaching a running group in the small town of Tunja, two hours outside of Bogota, the capital of Colombia. This summer, Tibaduiza accompanied his father, running with the group constantly in the small town at 9,000 feet of elevation.
"Where I was living reminded me of the way it might be like living in the 1800s or something," Tibaduiza explains. "It was really primitive, but they had some great runs in the mountains. I did workouts on my own that my dad gave me, so I didn't do exactly what everybody else here would be doing, but I figured I'd take a chance and just go for it."
After redshirting his first college season in 2009-10, Tibaduiza trained the following summer but a week before returning to Seattle, "I started feeling a lot of pain in my foot," Tibaduiza recalled. "I ran with it through the cross country dual meet and then got an MRI which showed a stress fracture. Right after that, coming back for indoor track, my foot started to hurt in a different place and I got another MRI and they said that there were two stress fractures in two different metatarsals on the same foot. So I was out the entire year."
Healed up and running again over the summer of 2011, two days before heading to Seattle, Tibaduiza again made one wrong step out of the thousands of steps run every day.
I figured I would give it my all for at least one more summer, and if I came back healthy, I was going to be good and trying to get back on the team."I stepped in a weird pot hole or something in a workout in Reno, and it strained my left achilles." A month and a half to recuperate from that basically wiped out last fall's cross country season. He got back onto the track this time and competed in the MPSF Championships, and set a 3,000m PR of 8:24 indoors, calling that a "little glimmer of hope" after so little training, but another achilles aggravation limited him to just one race again outdoors.
So after enduring all that frustration, Tibaduiza viewed this as a make or hopefully-not-break summer.
"I honestly thought about quitting a lot because it was injury after injury. It was really tough and I didn't want to deal with it anymore," he says, but family helped him realize how young he still was, and how much time he could still have left in the sport. "So I figured I would give it my all for at least one more summer of training, and if I came back healthy, I was going to be good, and trying to get back on the team."
Now, three races into the season, Tibaduiza says "I thank God every day that I've been healthy."
After starting the fall with a 14th-place finish at the Sundodger Invitational, Tibaduiza scored for Dawgs for the first time in his career, as he was the No. 3 finisher at the Dellinger, placing 28th overall. The trip to Wisconsin was not his best run, but a valuable experience going against more than a dozen ranked teams in the largest field he's ever raced in college.
Tibaduiza has a firm appreciation for each outing, but also has more goals than just getting to the starting line. "Obviously the only thing that matters is how you do at Regionals and the Pac-12 and making it into Nationals, so I'm not nearly satisfied yet, but I'm happy with where I am right now."
Now he'll just look to start adding up some frequent flyer miles.