Big 12 Campus Correspondent
"Sooner born and Sooner bred" is a familiar saying for anyone who grows up in the state of Oklahoma. And for many, it's a dream to wear Crimson and Cream for the University of Oklahoma.
Kevin Schwab, a junior on the OU cross country team, fits the profile.
A native of Mustang, Okla., Schwab has always had the desire to run for the Sooners. In the fall of 2007 his dream became a reality.
"I've always wanted to come to OU," Schwab said. "I started running when I was young, and I was always going to go to college for running so the two kind of fit."
Schwab was named the Oklahoma Runner Male Athlete of the Year his senior year in 2007. He had no desire to be anywhere but the University of Oklahoma. The recruiting process was a short experience as no school would get in the way of him living his dream in competing for the Sooners.
"I didn't take any recruiting trips," Schwab said. "I signed before I took any recruiting trips here at OU."
Long-distance running has always been in his blood. Schwab started to run competitively when he was nine years old at a one-mile fun run hosted by his hometown. Unfortunately his first experience in the fun run wasn't so fun, when he was beat in the final 200 meters.
However, the close loss was a good lesson for Schwab. It forced him to become aware that training is a must if he wants to win.
"After I finished second, my Dad asked me if I wanted to win it," he remembers. "I said yes and we started training for it and I won it the next year."
Winning has become the norm for Schwab, as his performances have earned him honors such as two-time All-Midwest region in 2009 and 2007, and All Big 12 Conference in 2009. When talking to Schwab's teammates none of them are surprised with Schwab's success.
"He's definitely a leader on the team," teammate Kevin Williams said. "He's one of the guys that started the program back a couple of years ago. We really weren't that good, and he's one of the guys that really brought us along."
Schwab's leadership has helped a rebuilding Oklahoma cross country program, as well as helping the track and field team maintain their competitive edge.
To go along with his leadership abilities, Schwab's personality and his ongoing passion for competition has his teammates wanting to be by his side.
"He's a lot of fun," Williams said. "He's real competitive in video games, and board games or anything like that. He's just a real chill guy."
Being competitive outside of running has helped Schwab realize some of the team goals that he would like the Sooners to achieve the final two years of his career. Currently the Sooners are ranked high in the polls, and for the team to continue their rise they will have to get past two talented Big 12 opponents, in Oklahoma State and Colorado.
"Our conference is probably one of the toughest conferences in the country, so to finish in the top three or in the top two would be nice," Schwab said. "Colorado and Oklahoma State are defending national champions, so were going to try to run with those guys."
Growing up a Sooner fan has helped Schwab stay humble throughout all of his successes as a runner at OU. One thing that he stresses to his teammates is that running and competing at the University of Oklahoma isn't just for one individual, but for the team and the entire program.
Competing for something bigger than himself has made Schwab realize that coming to Oklahoma is a privilege and is something that all Sooners should enjoy.
"I think the neatest thing about this team is that we're all brothers," Schwab said. "You're running for something bigger than yourself, and the thing that keeps me going in every single race is that I can't let down my team. It's the biggest thing that I run for."
With how the team ended their season last year qualifying for nationals by placing 12th, the goals have been set high for this year. If the rest of the team follows the role that Schwab has led, championship hardware may be on its way to Norman.