By Dave Dyer
Finally, Scott Waller is gaining some recognition as a talented and accomplished distance runner.
The Stonehill College sophomore from Andover has always enjoyed some success, but never headlining success.
At Andover High, Waller didn't start running cross country until his junior year and, despite being near the front of the pack and being an Eagle-Tribune All-Star as a senior, he always seemed to be in the shadows.
In the Merrimack Valley Conference, there were standout runners like Haverhill's Ethan Penney and Methuen's Jared Reddy who were just a tad in front of him, and the entire Methuen team dominated the league, so Waller was somewhat of an afterthought. He was known as a good runner, but maybe not that good.
Now, however, there is no denying it. Waller has been the No. 3 runner all year for Stonehill, which won the Northeast-10 title and qualified for Saturday's Division 2 nationals in Spokane, Wash., by placing second to archrival UMass Lowell.
The trip to nationals is the ninth straight for Stonehill and it wasn't easy because usual No. 2 man Penney was unable to run because of a hamstring pull. That put more of a burden on Waller and he delivered by placing 13th overall with a career-best 32:42.4 on Franklin Park's 10K course.
"Scott had a huge day for us," said Stonehill coach Karen Boen. "Ethan slipped a few days before the meet and we took the chance that his teammates would step up and Scott and his teammates didn't let Stonehill or Ethan down.
"It's good to hear that Scott is getting some attention. ... He is now an instrumental part of a very strong team and I believe he is really coming into his own."
For his part, Waller does not feel slighted by his lack of recognition.
"I don't feel that I've been overlooked," said Waller. "There were some great runners in front of me in high school and when I first came here. I never dreamed I'd do as well as I'm doing now. It's been incredible so far."
But Waller isn't focused on his own success this week. He's thinking about how he can help Stonehill run to its potential at nationals.
|Waller competing in the 2010 NCAA
Division II Championships in Louisville,
"Once we get to nationals, we tend to fall apart and we'd like to run to our potential this year," said Waller. "We're ranked 19th nationally and we'd like to finish in the top 15."
Boen has no doubt that Waller will do his part.
"He is very committed to his teammates and refuses to let them and himself down," said Boen. "He has stepped it up every time we have relied on him."
The Scott Waller file
College, year: Stonehill, sophomore
Major: Elementary Education/Psychology
High School: Andover High
Running background: Former soccer player, started running cross country as a junior in high school
Highlights: MVC Division 2 Runner of Year as senior, finished fourth in MVC meet for Andover; finished 16th in NE-10 meet as freshman last year and was all-conference third team; finished 13th in Northeast regional this year
Running roommate: Rooms with former Central Catholic rival Nate Webber, also a sophomore (Haverhill's Ethan Penney rooms with Georgetown's Sean Hanlon of St. John's Prep)
Running trademark: Tends to keep his head down, almost looking like his eyes are closed, and very consistent
Personal: Son of Dave and Hellen Waller; brother Mark was a senior runner for Andover High this fall
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