AMES — It’s fair to call Roshon Roomes a late bloomer.
He only made the Minnesota high school state track and field meet once and it was when he was a senior at Woodbury High School.
He went to Iowa State based purely on academics — Roomes is an Industrial engineering major. When he got to Ames, he asked the track coaches if he could walk on.
“They said they wanted a whole year without being on the team to see where I wanted to be and if I was dedicated,” Roomes said. “I said, ‘Alright.’ And joined the run-club team because I needed to find meets to run at.”
Roomes proved his worth on the run club and joined the Iowa State track and Field team for the 2016-17 season as a middle-distance runner.
He ran well his first two years and earned his keep.
This season, as a junior, Roomes set an NCAA record in the 600-yard run during the indoor season with a time of 1:07.67 at the Big 12 Championships.
“My only goal going into that meet was win,” Roomes said. “Win. Win. Win. My thought process was, ‘Get out, get in the lead, run your race and cross the finish line first and the time will show for itself.’ Did I expect myself to beat the NCAA record? Heck no. But it was super cool that I was able to win my first Big 12 title and I was able to beat a record at the same time.
“I was elated.”
Roomes said he felt invincible during the race.
“You’re able to just keep going. But I’ll be honest, I was very tired after the race,” Roomes said with a laugh. “Even though I felt really good in the race, as soon as I crossed the line, I was dead.”
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Roomes has been able to translate his indoor success to the outdoor season. He ran a personal record in the 800-meter run three weeks ago with a time of 1:47.14, good for eighth best in the nation and putting him squarely in All-America contention. He hasn’t finished worse than third in any event he’s been in during the outdoor season.
“I’m feeling really good right now,” Roomes said as the Drake Relays approach this weekend. “The past couple of years I’ve always stumbled coming into this part of the season, so now to actually be healthy and running super competitively no matter what race I’m in, it’s a great feeling.”
Roomes hopes to use the Drake Relays as a measuring stick. Iowa’s Matt Manternach has the fourth-best time of the year in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:46.93.
“We’re going against some great competition over at the Drake Relays, especially the people over at Iowa,” Roomes said. “One of the guys (Manternach) ran a faster time than me. Being able to go against competition like that is good, and I need to run a very smart race.”
Running a smart race shouldn’t be too hard for an athlete who’s made the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll every year he’s been on the team.
“When it comes to the 800, you have to be able to distribute energy the best way possible,” Roomes said. “If you go outside to lane two or lane three, you’re probably not going to be able to run that well because you’re not distributing energy well. Drake Relays, Big 12s, West Regionals — all of them, I just have to stay consistent.”
When Roomes first got to Iowa State, he had to prove himself worthy to run on Iowa State’s track and field team and now, he’s turned himself into one of the Cyclones’ biggest stars.
Simply put, he went from walk-on to NCAA record breaker.
“I was not a prodigy,” Roomes said. “I’ve just developed a lot throughout my years here in college.”
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