For most of his first two years running cross country for USC Beaufort, Marshall Meyer felt like he was running in place.
A rash of injuries contributed to the fact that Meyer couldn't seem to shave any significant time off his finishes.
During his junior season with the Sand Sharks, Meyer has broken through that wall, and he was rewarded this week by being named the Sun Conference Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week after winning the Sand Shark Invitational on Saturday.
A standout at Bluffton High School, where he finished fifth in Class 3-A as a junior and helped the Bobcats win two state titles as a team, Meyer was slowed by injuries for much of his first two seasons with the Sand Sharks. He broke the 28-minute mark in only one 5-mile race during those two years and failed to qualify for the NAIA National Championships each year -- though he has twice qualified for the NAIA national marathon, finishing 18th in 2009.
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Meyer seems like a lock to make it to cross country nationals this year, and he showed it Saturday, winning the men's race in 25 minutes, 36 seconds, the second-fastest time ever posted on the Sand Sharks' home course that winds through the Hardeeville High School campus and the adjacent Sgt. Jasper Park.
The win was the first of Meyer's collegiate career.
The list of reasons for his big breakthrough is lengthy.
"I've lost about 8 to 10 pounds, but the mileage is the biggest part," Meyer said. "More workouts, just being positive, eating right. The whole nine yards."