When cross country head coach Ted Van Arsdale was looking at recruits for last year’s squad, one local athlete in particular caught his eye.
“”I thought [David Dunbar] would be advantageous to the school,”” Van Arsdale said.
Dunbar was enthusiastic to come to UCSD.
“”I really liked the area and I really like the coach,”” Dunbar said. “”I knew a number of guys on the team and I knew the program here was strong.””
Fast forward to this year and Van Arsdale looks like a genius.
Dunbar recently became the first male in UCSD history to make it to nationals for the Tritons in Division II. His time of 33:19 placed him 52nd out of over 90 runners and ninth among West Region runners.
What makes this achievement even more commendable is that the national championship is comprised of top runners from about 400 Division II schools. To top it all off, Dunbar is only a sophomore.
“”By the time [Dunbar] is gone, he’ll have established himself with the other running legends from UCSD,”” Van Arsdale said.
Dunbar appears to be well on his way to doing just that.
“”I just liked running,”” he said of his decision to join his high school’s cross country team five years ago. “”And I was good at it. It was fun.””
Coming into this season, Dunbar set three goals for himself: to place in the top 15 at the conference championships, to be named All-Region, and to make nationals.
A good performance in nationals assures strong consideration for All-Region honors. Dunbar came in 16th in conference, just short of his goal, but still respectable considering he ran while he was ill.
“”It was a big race; we have a pretty big rivalry with the other schools in our conference,”” Dunbar said. “”I just took one for the team.””
Van Arsdale sees Dunbar as more than just a physical specimen.
“”His mentally competitive attitude is an important strength,”” Van Arsdale said. “”He has the desire to see how good he can be.””
Dunbar’s determination is an example for the other runners, including his younger brother, Jonathon.
“”He’s shown the way [for the young runners],”” Van Arsdale said.
Dunbar downplays his leadership role to his brother. “”I help him out a little,”” he said. “”But usually I let him do his own things.””
He is also modest about his championship run. “”I think it was pretty good, although I wanted to run a little faster,”” he said.
Van Arsdale has a different impression.
“”He was absolutely fantastic at nationals,”” he said. “”It would be tough to improve on this particular race.””
They both attribute Dunbar’s performance to a grueling training plan, in which Dunbar ran over 80 miles per week from the beginning of summer until late October.
“”The difference between this year and last year is a result of [Dunbar] sticking to the training plan,”” Van Arsdale said. “”It allowed him to complete the season strong.””
This was vital, since this was Dunbar’s first year in Division II and his first year of running 10,000 meters. Division III meets were only 8,000 meters.
Dunbar is far from finished. Next year, his goals are to finish higher in nationals, as well as make the Division II All-American team. He has started to train for the track team, in which he competes in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter races, as well as the steeplechase.
“”My main goal is to make it to nationals, which is harder in track,”” Dunbar said.
Dunbar has no intention of slowing down after school, either. “”I’ll definitely be running after college,”” he said.
“”He’s a hardcore runner,”” Van Arsdale said.
For Dunbar, there appears to be no end in sight and that seems to be just fine with him.