WSU cross country runner Dunn is undaunted on and off the course

It has been quite a runat Wright State for junior Nathan Dunn .

Dunn and his Raider teammates are in Kenosha, Wis. for the Horizon League Championship race Saturday morning. The top runner on the Raiders’ men’s team, Dunn finished eighth last year in the Horizon League on his way to second-team, all-league honors.

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Away from his battles on the race course, an often unseen hurdle has affected Dunn throughout his life.

When Dunn was in middle school he would often experience panic attacks that were severe enough to force him to leave school early occasionally. Dunn said it was probably the time in his life when his anxiety was at its greatest intensity.

“It was becoming a burden in my life. By the time I got to junior high I was bullied a little, which was also suppressing me,” Dunn said. “I didn’t really like to talk about it much. It was a dark time in my life, but ever since I started running it’s taken a little of the edge off.”

Dunn became more of an avid runner in junior high. He found running to be therapeutic.

“When you get done running you get a runner’s high that takes away some anxiety. I realized it could be an outlet,” said Dunn, a Covington High School grad. “To this day I’ve noticed if I’m running my anxiety is pretty low. I think I’ll have to run or do some sort of physical activity for the rest of my life to be able to suppress it.”

Exuding toughness is often a stereotypical masculine trait. Dunn said that shouldn’t deter someone from expressing the emotions associated with anxiety and that bottling them up only amplifies that feeling.

“We portray ourselves as being tough and not having any problems, but that’s not the case. I think it’s a good thing to get those feelings off your chest because everyone deals with struggles,” Dunn said. “Most people didn’t know I did because I kept it within myself. I still have a fair amount of anxiety, but going on a long run takes it away.

“I will still talk to my parents or friends if I have problems because it’s not good to hold it in. It’s good to let people know what’s going on and be transparent with them.”

Dunn’s sister, Anna, a sophomore on WSU’s women’s cross country team, has been another part of the support system within his family.

“Nathan being able to express those anxious thoughts makes me so proud of him,” she said. “It is such a nod to his mental strength. I look up to him knowing that he has put forth the effort to work through them. In the end it made him stronger in every area of his life.

“To support him I’ve just been the sister I know I should be. When he doesn’t have the best run or day I tell him the same things he would tell me. It’s one run, one race, one day and learn from it, build from it, and come back even better.”

Nathan’s best race this season came on Sept. 29 at the All-Ohio meet in Akron. He clocked a personal-best time of 24 minutes, 30.5 seconds to finish sixth in the 8K race, the second-fastest time in school history over that distance.

The Wright State women, led by senior Hailey Brumfield (Tippecanoe), compete in the Horizon League Championships beginning at noon Saturday. The men’s race follows at 1 p.m.

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