by Alan Hieber
When competing in college sports at a Division I level, it can be a tough adjustment for athletes when their first season commences. Wright State freshman cross country runner Nathan Dunn has quickly proven he has the poise of an upperclassman.
Endurance sports are a staple in Dunn’s family with his sister running cross country for Covington high school and his parents competing in triathlons in addition to running events.
During his first season running for Covington, Dunn realized it was something he had a passion to keep pursuing.
“My freshman year of high school I started to see that there are results that pay off from running a lot. From there it almost turned into an addiction, as in trying to get better and to the next level.”
Saying that Dunn’s debut meet for the Raiders was a success would be an understatement. He eclipsed the previous school record in the 6K by over 30 seconds with a blazing 19:09 time at the Queen City Invitational contested in September.
Dunn has continued the blistering pace by running the fastest time for WSU in all five of his meets this season, including a 25:28.4 personal best in the 8k at last Friday’s Jenna Strong Fall Classic in Wilmington.
With the productive results, it’s no surprise that head coach Rick Williamson feels Dunn fits the mold of former Raider greats on the cross country paths like Dan Shafer and Jason Bruns.
Part of the success can be attributed to interval workouts that present physical and mental challenges, according to Dunn.
“We hit the wall in the middle of the workouts, and then you’ve got to tell your mind to push your body past the limit,” Dunn said. “You get stronger as a runner when you do that.”
Aside from the hitting the wall workouts, Dunn respects Williamson for helping him become a better person outside of athletics.
“Coach (Williamson) helps us deal with daily life situations and wants us to get good grades because that comes first on our team,” Dunn said. “That comes in handy for working hard in the real world.”
Cross country, especially at a collegiate level, can be unpredictable with the hurdles runners will face such as poor weather conditions or simply not feeling good on a given day. Based on Dunn’s strong performances, it appears this has fazed him little, which is a quality that stands out to Williamson.
“Nate is super steady. He is very even keeled about everything and never gets too high or low,” Williamson said. “He simply has a very mature outlook on this sport.”
Dunn feels another positive of running for WSU is the harmony of the team despite a competitive atmosphere.
“We stick up for each other and push each other during workouts. We’re a very competitive group of individuals,” Dunn said. “When we’re faced head to head we’ll try to beat each other, but in the end we’re just buds.”
Next Saturday WSU will compete in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at the Horizon League championship meet. With his final sprint of the season ahead, Dunn is confident he and is teammates can make it a fast one.
“There are a lot of great runners in this league, and if we could finish mid-pack that would be an accomplishment,” Dunn said. “Individually if I could get top-15 and All-Horizon League that would be awesome. That would take a lot of effort, but anything is possible.”
However this season concludes for Dunn, he has a long run remaining for the Raiders in cross country and on the track.
“The sky is the limit for Nathan and the rest of the men's team in the future,” Williamson said. “They have already turned the culture around, and they will continue to build and grow.”