By Tyler Knowles
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
With the constant pressure of student-athletes to balance their school work as well as their respective sports, it is Oklahoma's Rob Sorrell's work ethic that has placed him where he is today.
Selected as the team captain for the 2009 University of Oklahoma men's cross country team, Sorrell and the rest of the Sooners squad are having one of the best seasons in school history.
"Rob has been extremely dedicated at providing an example to his teammates that the success of the team should be the foundation of our athletic character," OU cross country coach Martin Smith said. "Because of that type of attitude it became obvious to me that he should be selected as one of our team captains."
Sorrell and the Sooners are currently ranked No. 23 in the nation. It's the first time the Sooners have been ranked nationally. and its highest ranking ever, something that the junior has been waiting on for quite some time.
"The program has definitely been through some big changes," said Sorrell, a junior from Memphis, Tenn. "When I first got here and in my freshman and sophomore years, it was fun but it was tough because we were such a young team back then and inexperienced. So it's been fun to see how our team has grown and how we have learned to become a better team.
"Some of the other older guys and myself have all paid our dues and now it's nice to see the program moving forward."
Sorrell has had his share of individual successes throughout his career at OU: A first-place finish at the Hurricane Festival in both 2006 and 2007. He became the first OU freshman in more than 25 years to win in his collegiate debut. And he earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2008.
"I have learned a lot from my coaches since the first day I stepped on campus," Sorrell said. "The main thing is whatever you do whether school related or running, do it 100 percent and devote yourself entirely to it."
From a running perspective, Rob's athletic abilities allow him to train at a very high level. His running profile is based on dedicated hard work, consistency and being mentally tough in both practice and races.
After redshirting the 2008 season, Sorrell has picked up right where he left off, finishing 12th out of 167 runners at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 26.
"From the very beginning he has been our number one runner, he gives us his best physical and attitudinal effort everyday which makes him so successful and valuable to the character of the team," said Smith, whose team will next compete in the Big 12 Championships on Oct. 31 in Columbia, Mo.
Sorrell, who is majoring in aviation, has aspirations of becoming an All-American in cross country before he graduates. As the leader of his team, Sorrell hopes to keep himself, as well as the team, motivated and working hard as the Sooners approach the postseason portion of the schedule.
"It would be really cool to see our team place in the top-10 at nationals and also to be in contention for a Big 12 title," he said. "Right now the sky is the limit for this team."