Catch Him If You Can
Will Rossmiller - Twitter @willrossmiller

track-3-color-jack-mclaughlin1.jpgWinning any event at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Indoor Track Championships is a big deal. Dan Sullivan accomplished this and more.

Sullivan, a junior mid-distance runner at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, not only brought home the No. 11 NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship win for UWSP. He also set a new DIII national record, posting a time of 4 minutes, 7.03 seconds in the mile.

Sullivan, a native of Elkhorn, Wis., was favored heading into the event, posting the fastest mile time in Division III this season at 4 minutes, 8.76 seconds. He surpassed that mark and blew away his personal record.

Sullivan explained the experience in one word: awesome.

“There was a lot of hard work put into this, so a lot of stress gets lifted off your shoulders when you accomplish such a big goal,” Sullivan said.

Men’s track and field head coach Rick Witt was very pleased with Sullivan’s performance. Witt also went into detail about how Sullivan actually qualified for three events at the National Championships but wanted to focus on the mile.

“We had elected for him to put all of his eggs in one basket and go for the mile,” Witt said. “Running all those races in fewer than 15 hours is just too much.”

Sullivan went into this season with high expectations, as he was also the champion in the mile last year at the Indoor National Championships.

“My plan in the beginning of the season was to win at nationals,” Sullivan said. “There were some ups and downs, but at the end of the season, I won nationals. I’ve accomplished everything this year that I could ask for.”

Witt said that Sullivan has improved a lot since coming to UWSP to compete.

“He was very talented in high school but in running terms was undertrained. That led to lots of improvement once he got here,” Witt said. “He has trusted my judgment as far as his development and training is concerned, and really puts no limits on what we feel that he can accomplish.”

According to Sullivan, upping his miles during the summer from about 45 to 70 miles a week really helped him improve his performance this season.

“I worked a lot harder in the off-season than I ever have before in hopes of defending my National Championship, and it definitely paid off,” Sullivan said.

Along with winning the National Championship, Sullivan was named the 2013 NCAA Division III Men’s National Indoor Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

“This sport is pretty much my life, so to get that type of honor feels very good,” Witt said. “It’s awesome when you consider how many outstanding athletes there are in the country.”

With the indoor season wrapped up, Sullivan looks ahead to his outdoor track season. However, before his season starts, he and Coach Witt will travel to Stanford University over Easter weekend where Sullivan will compete against some of the best mile runners in Division I track and field.