Last updated: February 19. 2013 1:19PM - 575 Views

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He was once an all-state wrestler for Dallas High School who very nearly reached Division I All-America status at Wilkes.

Now Craig Rome has been reduced to the role of equipment manager.

When his youngest daughter Ally forgot her running shoes, she frantically called dad to bring them to Dallas High before the bus left for last week's league cross country championship meet.

He ran right to the house, Ally said, and made it up there in five minutes.

It seems speed runs in the Rome family.

While Dallas junior Regan Rome romps through her record-setting cross country season, she's hardly the first member of her highly-athletic family to elicit awe among Wyoming Valley sports fans. And she may not be the last.

In the same Ed Narkiewicz WVC championship race in which Regan Rome broke a girls meet record at the Wyoming County Fairgrounds by winning in 17:42:84, her freshman sister Ally placed eighth in the girls field.

And their younger brother Mitchell, a sixth-grader in the Dallas elementary school system, has shown promise playing intramural soccer and basketball – and displays a strong desire to run in the footsteps of his sisters at the junior high level next year.

This inclination to race doesn't all come from mom, Amy Rome insists.

The former Amy Aston earned a track and field and cross country scholarship to Penn State and went to NCAA Division I nationals twice as a member of the Nittany Lions. Then she was a highly-successful area road racer when she returned to the Wyoming Valley. But she never demanded her children take the same path.

Especially Regan, whose sub-18:00 time at the league championships was her personal best.

There is some natural talent passed down, said Amy Rome, a 1985 Dallas grad who has coached the school's junior high cross country program for the past 10 years. But she works very hard at it, too.

That work ethic likely comes from the father of the family.

That Craig Rome became an All-Pennsylvania wrestler as a senior at Dallas in 1984, the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association freshman wrestler of the year at Wilkes and a team captain for the Colonels by his senior college season was no accident.

Amy said she has always admired her husband's endless drive and work ethic.

He's lifted since he was 13 years old, he still lifts, Amy said. In Regan, I see a lot of similarities.

But Craig Rome suggests there's something of greater importance he brings to the table of his family of athletes. Or, maybe it's what he takes away that makes the most difference.

When I got to college, I started to compete with very high-level guys, said Craig Rome, who works for Merck Pharmaceuticals. I learned when I started to eat right – the one thing I did not do in high school – and eliminated sugar from my diet, your ability improves tremendously.

That's the one thing I can pass on.

But as he watches the ability of his daughters blossom through the course of their high school careers, Craig Rome throws credit to his wife – who once finished 16th at a state cross country meet just minutes after finishing field hockey practice.

She's the one who inspired all of this, Craig Rome maintains.

When they were real young, Amy would do the local road races, Craig said. They've always been around running.

Eventually, they even left mom playing catch-up.

I've kind of passed her, Ally grins.

In middle school, Regan Rome said, my mom would go on a run with me. She's kind of slowed down now – or I sped up.

Amy laughs at how the training from her old glory days can't even match her children anymore.

I keep going down on the hierarchy of who's the fastest in the house, Amy Rome said.

Does it really matter?

To the Romes, no. The important thing, they say, is that the pace each of them set while chasing their goals puts them on a fast track to success.

Craig and I, with the success that we had, know you don't do your sport in real life, Amy Rome said. Regan can win a national championship this year. At 25, she's still going to be looking for a career outside of running. What's important is to use it as a path to your goals.

It's great to be able to set a goal and work toward it and accomplish it.

In that context, the finish line for the Rome family only seems like a start.

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