Dohner driven by words of dad

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Ryan Dohner’s running was always encouraged by his father, who served as his junior high track and cross country coach at the John Cooper School in The Woodlands.

“It was cool having him coach me,” Dohner said. “The workouts weren’t hardcore, but there were definitely times where I wouldn’t want to go on a run with him.”

Although Dohner knew the decision to run was his own, it was nice to have support at home.

“I was always told how good I could be,” Dohner said. “I was never told that I had to run, though.”

With this praise, Dohner won the Texas state meet in the two-mile race during his senior year, and his cross country team made it to nationals.

“I never thought we could be that good,” Dohner said. “People stepped up, though, and we barely lost to a team who has won the national meet over 25 times.”

After this success, Dohner decided to visit Texas and fell in love. Assistant coach John Hayes and he stayed in touch, and Hayes even made a house visit to show his interest in Dohner.

“I always thought I wanted to come to Austin,” Dohner said. “When I was a freshman, a guy my dad coached came here. I heard his stories, and that just sparked my interest further.”

After being such a leader on his high school team, Dohner was sure achievements would come during his college career. He set a goal for himself to be the best freshman in the nation.

“I know people look toward me to perform well,” Dohner said. “I still don’t know if I’d consider myself a leader. Our older guys do a good job of taking care of us and telling us what to do.”

Nov. 13’s regional meet was worth all of the team’s hard work. With Dohner finishing fifth, the Longhorns won a silver medal.

“Now ... nationals,” Dohner said. “I’m nervous, of course, but really excited.”

Texas will compete in Terre Haute, Ind., today for the NCAA title. Last year, the team was also able to pull off a second place at regionals and ended up tied for 28th at nationals.

“The team is going to surprise a lot of people,” Dohner said. “We’re confident, fresh and we know this is our time.”