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The La Salle Falconer

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Next Level Seniors: Running Halfway Across the Country, Dylan Ryznar Commits to Kenyon College for Cross Country and Track

Jasmine McIntosh
Senior Dylan Ryznar’s favorite part about being on the cross country team has been the end-of-season trip to Boise, Idaho.

For senior Dylan Ryznar, becoming a collegiate athlete was not on the forefront of his mind during his college application process. “I didn’t think I could run, but then a coach just randomly emailed me, so I thought that’d be cool because I like to run and it’s more fun on a team,” he said.

Despite his love for running now, it only blossomed a few years ago. 

Ryznar grew up playing soccer and basketball, but took on cross country and track during his middle school and high school years. He ran cross country for a year in the seventh grade, but put it to rest in high school in order to play soccer his freshman and sophomore year. He then joined La Salle’s cross country team his junior year and participated his senior year as well. He has also ran for La Salle’s track team all four years of high school.

During Ryznar’s junior year, he was forced to stop running due to what they thought was a potential heart condition. “It turns out I was fine, but I couldn’t do any physical activity at all for six months, so that was really hard,” he said. The day he was told he was cleared, “I just started running,” he said. 

For Ryznar, long distance running is what he dominates in. “I’m better at long distance, and sprinting just seems stressful,” he said. “I like going for easy runs.” 

The 800-meter and the 4×400 relay are his favorite events to run. He particularly enjoys the 4×4 because it’s a relay race that he often runs with the same few teammates — seniors Sean Snow and Milan Cieslak and sophomores Cooper Eldon and Jayden Gilbert. Generally, in most races and practices, Ryznar is seen running with Snow and junior Gordon Thomas the most.

In order to feel confident in his running, Ryznar dedicates many hours to training. Whether he is in-season running with the team or off-season doing solo runs, he finds the time to continue to build his stamina. During the summer, Sundays are his off days, so he sticks to a shorter and more leisurely pace, typically lasting around 20 minutes, and on the weekdays he runs “not much more than five or six miles,” he said.

After his absence from running his junior year, Ryznar was “just glad to be able to run again,” he said. (Photo curtsey of Dylan Ryznar)

When the time came for Ryznar to start focusing on his next path — college — he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to run at all the schools he was looking into. “I wasn’t going to go to a school for running,” he said. “But I decided that if I could run at a school that I wanted to go to I would.” He was almost certain for a while that he wanted to run in college, but prioritized a school with scholarly academics before finalizing any decision to run.

For Ryznar, the recruitment process was “just kind of random,” he said. He started the whole process later than most — this past fall — which was when the first coach emailed him. “I got emails from some coaches, just like D-III, you don’t have to be that fast to run,” he said. He also received phone calls and Zoom meetings with coaches in order to understand the school better and their cross country and track program.         

Due to his late start on the recruitment process, he found difficulty as some teams already had their rosters filled. Some schools wanted him to apply through early decision in order to secure a spot on the team, and if he began sooner, coaches could have offered him a spot guaranteeing his admission. “I didn’t do that because I started so late,” he said.                                                                   

After talking to around five different colleges and coaches, Ryznar made his commitment to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, to run cross country and track. Despite not being aware of the college prior to receiving his offer, he is most excited to attend due to academics. Upon looking into the school, he found that they offer a neuroscience program, which is a highly possible major for Ryznar.

This past spring break, Ryznar was able to take his first visit to Kenyon, where he was able to tour the campus and meet the team. “Going into spring break I still had three or four schools that were tied, but I really liked Kenyon,” he said.

He will spend most of the year running, as the entire team runs both cross country and track. “I’m pretty sure we get a break, like a couple weeks [off], but I like running,” Ryznar said.

He is excited to take on a role within the team and hopes that he will be able to elevate their performance. The program is developing, and “they’re getting better, so hopefully I’ll be part of that,” he said. He is looking forward to being around people that care about running and strive to get better just as he does.

Ryznar was also accepted into the Kenyon Science Scholars Program this summer, receiving the opportunity to spend six to eight weeks on campus, meeting and working closely with professors and earning credits for the coming school year. “It’s a scholarship, so they pay for my textbooks and give me merit,” he said.

Ryznar enjoys the balance of being a student athlete, which helps his mentality going into a collegiate level of competition. “I think running helps me focus and be a better student,” he said. “Also when I’m busier, I can’t procrastinate as much, I just have to do it.” 

As the next chapter of his running career gets underway, Ryznar advises underclassmen participating in cross country and track to “be consistent and go out and run,” he said. Whether a person has run before or has not, Ryznar believes that once you start, it is hard not to fall in love with it.

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