To say Tyler Shue dominated on the track last spring would be an understatement.
Ephrata’s senior distance kingpin completely owned the 800-meter event; in four championship meets — L-L League, District Three, PIAA and Nationals — he earned gold medals, bettering his winning time every time out.
He capped his junior year in style last June, running a personal-best 1:50.39 to win the New Balance Outdoor Nationals title in North Carolina, earning an All-American nod in the process.
Shue also earned a second-place finish in the 800 on Feb. 1 at the Reykjavik International Games in Iceland, kicking off his 2020 campaign.
These days, with everyone stuck inside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shue has been relegated to daily runs around Ephrata. No track. No starter’s pistol. No fanfare.
But he isn’t cutting any corners; Shue is out hoofing it six days a week, running with a friend — either Zach Lefever or Wayne Hooper — and putting in anywhere from four to six miles per workout, be it distance or tempo.
“The thing I’m missing the most is being with the team, and running with the entire team for a purpose,” said Shue, a Penn State recruit who will continue his distance career with the Nittany Lions.
“I was really hoping for my senior season to go out and put down some really good, final high school PR times,” he said. “I can still go out and run now. But it’s not the same.”
For Shue or anyone else, after the PIAA canceled all spring sports because of coronavirus concerns on April 9.
Still, Shue presses on, slipping on his sneakers and grinding out those four to six miles a day, even without a clock running or a PR to be gained.
“Staying in shape always keeps me motivated, but when I’m out there running now, I’ll think about everything I’ve put into this in my career,” said Shue, who played soccer in the fall the last four years for Ephrata.
“It would be counter intuitive to take anything away from that now,” he said. “So I’m out there running for my coaches and all of the teammates I’ve run with. I always keep them in my mind when I’m running, because I know how much effort they’ve put in for me and the team.”
An Ephrata boys team, by the way, that captured the L-L League Section Two title last spring for the first time since 1989. So the Mountaineers — with Shue setting the pace in the 800 — had some lofty expectations this spring.
In fact, Shue was set to join teammates Sam Knowles, Kyle Emrey and Noah Keller to compete in the 4x400 at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia last week. But that event was canceled.
Here is some more motivation for Shue’s daily runs: After winning everything in sight in 2019, he took third place with a 1:54.25 in the state indoor finals on March 1 at Penn State.
“When I got third at indoors,” he said, “I got home and I immediately marked my calendar for leagues, districts, states and nationals.”
Unfortunately, those first three meets have been canceled. But the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, set for July 16-19 at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, are still on, and Shue is slated to go and defend his title.
Hence his daily routine to stay fit.
“Technically I’m the defending champ there,” he said. “But it’s going to be weird not running in any of the events leading up to nationals.”
It’s a weird time for everyone, especially all of the spring athletes who won’t get to compete. Shue is coping, while keeping his fingers crossed for a nationals meet, and heading to Penn State in the fall.
“I’ve finally wrapped my head around all of this at this point,” he said. “Those first couple of weeks, I was really thinking that this would be over quickly and we’d get back to school and have a season. But when they canceled school, I started coming to grips with the fact that I wasn’t going to have a senior season and get to run with my team.”