While most people use two-wheeled or four-wheeled vehicles to get around, sophomore Riley Flynn has been known to use just one. The Webster cross country runner owns three unicycles.
Flynn once saw his neighbor unicycling, and was intrigued by it.
“I thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ So I bought myself a unicycle and taught myself how to unicycle,” Flynn said.
Six years later, he now has 16 inch, 20 inch and 24 inch-high unicycles. The height is measured by the diameter of the wheel.
Flynn’s roommate, and fellow cross country teammate, Brandon Brown said he was amazed to learn Flynn could unicycle.
“I have seen him unicycle and I give him so much respect for it, because I have tried myself to unicycle and it was very hard,” Brown said.
The transportation method Flynn has always been best at is running. Flynn has placed first in every race this year for the Webster cross country team.
Flynn was able to place eighth at the Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Championship meet Oct. 31. As a team, the Gorloks placed third out of seven teams. Nine of the 11 runners for Webster posted career-best times, including Flynn who ran 24 seconds faster than any other race he had run this year. It was the fastest eight-kilometer time by a sophomore in Webster history.
Flynn’s drive for success
Even with the success he had, Flynn still wanted more.
“I definitely wanted to get one more place and be first team all-conference,” Flynn said. “But I can’t be mad at a PR [personal record]. I think I could have ran a little smarter. I don’t know necessarily if that could have gotten me first team all-conference but it could have shaved off a few seconds.”
The top seven runners at the conference meet were named to the first team all-conference. Flynn said he is using the eighth place finish as motivation for the next two seasons at Webster.
“I would love to become first team all-conference the next two years, and qualify for nationals. I want to use this finish to put a fire under me, train a little harder and have a good track season,” Flynn said.
Both Flynn and Brown said they are proud of how they competed at the conference meet.
“I think we accomplished a lot this season as a whole and we all ran a really well team race coming off of conference,” Brown said.
For Flynn, the success meant even more because of how many runners they lost from last season.
“Coming from last season I expected a better finish, but we lost a lot of guys. We lost five guys that would have been top seven runners,” Flynn said. “So I think a third place was a really good finish. I think everyone stepped it up on Saturday. We had a really good finish.”
Flynn’s introduction to running
Flynn first got into cross country as a freshman in high school. He had not done any sports seriously growing up, but the influence of his older brother led him to running. His brother was a four year cross country runner, and Flynn used that as motivation during his years at Ft. Zumwalt North high school.
“It was just something that I tried out and ended up really liking it. After my freshman year I set a goal for myself to beat my brothers times,” Flynn said.
Flynn ended up beating his brother’s times and made his way to Webster because of the recruiting of head coach Dan Graber. Flynn said he wanted to attend a school that could give him a scholarship, but chose Webster anyway because Graber really put in time and invested in him.
Webster runs next at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division Three Midwest Regional Championship. The race will be held Saturday, Nov. 14 in Rock Island, Il.
“I do believe that we have another great race coming for regionals and we have potential to get a lot better,” Brown said. “I believe this team will progress and become something special above and beyond regionals.”
Flynn said he sees the location of the course as a big advantage for the Gorlok runners. Everyone but one runner ran the course Sept. 25 to prepare.
Flynn’s time of 27 minutes and two seconds on the 8,000 meter course was the fastest a Gorlok had ever run at that meet. He said that can bode well for him in a few weeks.
“It’s a blazing fast course, we ran it earlier in the season,” Flynn said. “It’s nice to have ran it earlier in the season. I went out a little too fast, and I think that hurt me.”
Flynn said knowing where the mile markers are will help him know when he can make a move or when to speed up.
“We got progressively better over the last few meets and I think we will run a good regional meet,” Flynn said.
After the regional meet, Flynn said he will have maybe a week off before starting track workouts. He said Graber might not even get that much time off. That is nothing for the sophomore who ran 70 to 80 miles a week over the summer.
Flynn is a relaxed and humble person, according to Brown, he is always easy to spot.
“Other than that, he wears the shortest shorts on the team and they are crazy short always,” Brown said.
Flynn ran the fastest 5,000-meter time in Webster school history this season.
“It was a slow course. I run faster splits in my 8k races. The record doesn’t really mean much to me,” Flynn said.
But the record, and how Flynn carries himself, means something to his teammates and to Brown.
“Riley is a great example of what our top runner should be, because he is dedicated and very positive with all the runs,” Brown said.