Senior cross country runner Patrick Reilly, smiles between classes on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, at Lehigh University. Reilly won Patriot League Runner of the Week after his win at the Lehigh Invitational on Sept. 1. (Angelica Kowalski/B&W Staff)

Patrick Reilly reflects on past achievements, focuses on future

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Tradition is important when it comes to running, and senior cross country runner Patrick Reilly is no stranger to traditions.

Reilly has been taking part in Lehigh traditions since he was a freshman. One of his favorites is the annual Lehigh-Lafayette dual meet that takes place before the beginning of each season.

“The dual meet, that’s always a fun tradition to take part in,” Reilly said. “It’s been going on for over a hundred years, and we’ve won every time I’ve been here. It’s always a fun thing to share with the team.”

Lehigh’s success in the rival dual meets extends far beyond the four years Reilly has been running for Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks have won the meet for the past 19 years, and in this year’s dual meet on Sept. 8, Reilly finished first overall with a time of 26:05:52.

Reilly is looking to cap off this season and his cross country career with a Patriot League title. This goal is especially important to him because the race is on Lehigh’s home course, and although he is focused on the team’s goal of a Patriot League Championship, Reilly also has high hopes for his individual performance.

“I’d like to try to win individually also, and maybe be able to walk out of here with a school record,” Reilly said.

If breaking a school record doesn’t happen for Reilly this cross country season, he still has a shot at breaking a record on the track. He has been successful during both the indoor and outdoor seasons, running a college best of 4:24:10 in the indoor mile during the 2017 season while also achieving his personal record in the 1500m outdoors.

Setting a school record wouldn’t be the first time Reilly excels individually. John Tolbert, a senior runner for the Mountain Hawks and Reilly’s roommate of three years, said he was in awe of Reilly’s individual performance in the Paul Short Run their sophomore year, where Reilly placed 24th.

“It was a cold and rainy day, and to see Pat (Reilly) grind out a race from beginning to end in those conditions was inspiring to all of us,” Tolbert said. “The Paul Short Run is a huge race of almost 300 people and Pat (Reilly) stuck himself in the top 25 and never let up.”

Tolbert said while he had always thought of Reilly’s racing style as “grinding from the first step,” he and the rest of his teammates had never seen the advantage Reilly’s mental toughness gave him until the Paul Short Run.

Cross country coach Todd Etters spoke highly of Reilly’s ability to come out with a win after a tough race.

“Last indoor season at the Patriot League Championships, we got to see what Pat (Reilly) does best, and that is grind,” Etters wrote in an email. “He scored in both of his races and it was really nice to see all his hard work pay off at that meet.”

Reilly has collected honors within the Patriot League this season as well, having been named the Patriot League Runner of the Week after placing first at the Lehigh Invitational on Sept. 1.

Etters was quick to point out that Reilly’s accomplishments don’t only apply to his athletic career. He said Lehigh is at the top of the student athlete balancing act, and there is no better example of that than Reilly.

“Reilly’s biggest growth has come from all of his teammates because they see what it truly means to be a student athlete from Pat (Reilly),” Etters said. “His record speaks for itself and it is clear that it is possible to achieve a lot of success in both the academic and athletic world without having to compromise one for the other.”

After graduation, Reilly plans on taking a break from running, at least competitively.

“I just want to eat a bunch of junk and be lazy for a while,” Reilly said.

But not for long. It’s tradition.

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