Shaler cross country duo to run at Robert Morris

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Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Ryan Paris didn’t feel tied down when making his college decision.

The Shaler Area senior and cross country standout got what he thought was a fantastic offer, which made it an easy decision to sign with Robert Morris.

The fact the Colonials were interested in his teammate, Tyler Paszkowski, only made it a better deal for Paris.

“Running together in college was never a goal we had in mind,” Paris said. “I wanted to go to a place where I would have to pay less to go to school. They were interested in both of us, and we got an offer that was hard to turn down.”

Shaler’s senior class was a close-knit group. Paris and Paszkowski often trained with Samantha Hennen, who also signed a Division I scholarship, at North Park. Hennen, a three-time state qualifier, is headed to Kennesaw (Ga.) State.

Hennen finished 21st in the PIAA Class AAA championships last fall with a time of 19 minutes, 18 seconds.

Titans coach Justin Eskra was proud of all three runners.

“Samantha went everywhere,” Eskra said. “She was talking to Penn State, Ohio University, Pitt and Appalachian State. For me, I was excited for all three of them. They wanted to continue running.”

Paszkowski, who placed 46th at states with a time of 17:01.6, was able to use the sport to help find his place at school. He started attending Shaler in middle school after starting at St. Bonaventure Parish School in Glenshaw.

“I didn’t know either of them,” Paszkowski said. “When I was new to the school, Ryan and I were together running not long after.”

Paris is excited to take on the next challenge. He knows from talking to coaches that the intensity will pick up on workouts when his senior season ends.

“The intensity and mileage are going to be up in the college training,” Paris said. “He wants to bump up my mileage and intensity into the high 50s. Right now, I’ve been running in the high 30s, low 40s.”

Paszkowski said he started thinking that running in college was a possibility during his sophomore season.

But he knows, much like with high school, that will be a process.

“I want to contribute to the team my first year,” Paszkowski said. “I want to know where I am and get a baseline. The next three years, I want to turn it up and make a name for myself.”

Eskra believes the success of this class will help with encouraging younger kids to come out for the sport.

“I think people will see this was a process that started in middle school and they were able to put in the work and see the progress through high school,” Eskra said. “This tells kids, if I’m a good runner, there’s a chance I could make it to states and earn a Division I or II scholarship. I’m hoping middle school and elementary school kids will see what the program has done and it will help suck those kids in.”

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