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Jundt running his way to the top

Rugby senior has emerged as one of the top runners in the region, state

September 4, 2009
Matt Mullally

Rugby cross country coach Bill Jansen admits he didn't see the makings of an all-state runner in Dustin Jundt when he began competing in the eighth grade.

"Dustin didn't have that fluid stride you see with other runners,' Jansen recalls. "He ran hard, but it just looked like he had to use so much energy to move his legs."

Eventually, Jundt would develop a runner's stride, and thanks to the weight room, he bulked up and went from a middle-of-the-pack finisher to all-state honors by his junior season.

Cross country wasn't on his radar, however, when he entered junior high. It wasn't until after his seventh grade track season that he realized it was a sport he needed to try.

"I ran distance events in track and liked it, so it was natural to go out for cross country,' Jundt said.

However, success didn't come right away.

Cross country is a far different style of distance running from that done on a track surface. The race is longer, 3.1 miles, and the course often features hilly terrain, making it difficult to maintain a fast and steady pace.

Jundt realized he needed to add muscle to help him pick up that pace. He did just that, and playing football a couple of seasons, in addition to running, also improved his upper body strength.

His times steadily improved, and he worked his way to becoming one of the top runners in the Panther program and the region.

Dustin entered last season's state meet with an outside shot at a top 20 finish. He started the 5,000 meter race well, breaking away from the main pack. It wasn't until the last mile and a half that he realized he was in contention for an all-state finish.

"When I saw Dylan (Yoder) ahead, I knew I was right there (in the lead pack),' he said. "I just kept up that pace and didn't let anyone pass me."

He finished 19th with a time of 18:40 - one of four on his team to earn all-state honors that day.

Jundt's goal this season is a top 15 finish at state, and to give himself the best chance at attaining it, he decided to hang up his football helmet. "The last two years I played football as well as ran, but I wanted to concentrate just on cross country,' he said.

Jundt's success shows that anyone has the potential to work their way up to being a top runner.

"He's gotten a lot stronger, and it's evident in his times and where he's finishing,' Jansen said. "It's been neat to see him progress (over the years)."

 
 

 

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