Ryley Fick is an Academic All-American multiple record holder at LBSU. She holds multiple school records, from fifth place in the women’s 3,000-meter run to best time in the 3K steeplechase.
Cross country head coach Shawn Winget said an athlete like Fick comes along once in a career.
“She is actually the school record holder in the 800 meters, the mile, the steeplechase and the DMR [distance medley relay],” Winget said. “She’s number two in the 5K, she’s got 10 all-time top 10 lists and she’s got the number two fastest cross country time ever as well.”
Fick was the 2022 NCAA West Preliminary Qualifier for the 3K steeplechase, the 2022 Big West Women’s co-track Athlete of the Year, the 2022 Women’s Track Athlete of the Meet and the 2022 Big West Individual Champion for the 800 and 3K steeplechase.
Originally from Bakersfield, Fick began running track and cross country at Centennial High School. At first, she only ran track and cross country for soccer conditioning; even when she made varsity in her sophomore year she still viewed herself as a soccer player first.
Her junior year of high school, Fick tore her ACL while playing soccer. The injury made her realize how much she liked running because she was upset that she was missing her season.
Not wanting to risk another injury, Fick committed herself to just running.
She was unsure about her prospects for running after high school, as she was told her times weren’t the fastest.
During a visit to Long Beach State, Fick met with the coaching staff and they told her she’d have a spot on the team. This meeting inspired her to commit to LBSU with the support of her family, who attend every race.
“Before every single race, my dad always tells me ‘have fun and run fast,’” Fick said. “He never expects anything other than that. If I just have fun and run fast, then that’s all that matters.”
As Fick’s time at The Beach comes to an end, she hopes to break more records before she graduates.
“We’re to the point where I don’t know how much further we can keep going up, but she keeps pressing the envelope a little bit,” Winget said.
Fick wants to break the 1500 meter record and the 5K school record, but above all, she wants to enjoy her last season at LBSU.
“It’s a lot of fun to see all the hard work pay off and to be arguably one of the best middle distance runners that’s ever come through Long Beach State is a really cool thing,” Winget said.
In the future, Fick has her eyes set on the Olympics and the Boston Marathon. Off track, she wants to secure a nutrition internship and apply to grad school.
Despite being unsure about her ability when she arrived at The Beach, Fick’s trust in her coach and hard work helped her achieve her goals.
“I think that sometimes I don’t realize all I’ve accomplished because I think it’s hard to have perspective. As an athlete, if you focus on what has just happened, you forget everything that you’ve done leading up to it,” Fick said.
Just like her family, Fick said she wants others to have fun chasing their goals.
“If you’re chasing a goal, whatever it is, if you’re not having fun and if you’re not enjoying it, then it’s probably not the right goal for you,” Fick said.