Dunkelman dynamic in any sport
Saturday, Shadow Mountain Sports Complex, Sparks
4A boys, 10 a.m.
3A boys, 10:30 a.m.
2A/1A boys, 11 a.m.
4A girls, 12:05 p.m.
3A girls, 12:40 p.m.
2A/1A girls, 1:15 p.m.
Sean Dunkelman seemingly does it all at Douglas High School.
Just consider that the senior’s resume on campus includes his current role as student body president, a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist with a 4.6-plus grade point average, nomination as homecoming king last month, plus he is a unique three-sport athlete who competes in cross country, alpine skiing and baseball.
Dunkelman’s athletic prowess is even more noteworthy when you consider he stands all of 5-foot-6 and 115 pounds. Just don’t let the Douglas dynamo in on the secret, though.
“The thing about him, he’s always been little, but he has never raced or lived his life like he was little,” Douglas cross country coach Jay Frey said this week. “He always does the best he can.”
On Saturday, Dunkelman will cap off his successful four-year run with the cross country program at the NIAA State Championships in Sparks, where he will run in the 4A boys race scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex (next to Reed High School).
Dunkelman was the only Douglas runner to qualify when he placed eighth last Friday at the Northern 4A Region meet in a time of 17:30 on the same 5,000-meter course. His time was a personal best at altitude, though he ran 16:25 at sea level last month at the Clovis Invitational in Fresno, Calif. — which puts him among the all-time top 10 Douglas runners for 5K.
Dunkelman credits his improvement — and overall success this season — to a solid summer of training.
“I trained a lot by myself over the summer,” he said. “I definitely focused on the mental strength because running by myself was hard. I think that’s definitely what’s gotten me this far.”
There has been a lot of help along the way, he was quick to add.
“I’m thankful for all of the support I’ve received from my coaches, friends, my family and my team all year,” Dunkelman said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without them.”
In fact, his training took him far over the summer when he spent one week in Puchenau and Attersee Lake in Austria as part of a short-term Rotary Youth Exchange program. He also spent a week in Croatia.
“It was nice to get a change of scenery,” Dunkelman said of his European trip. “It’s beautiful there; that does help (with running).”
Dunkelman’s goal for the state meet is to compete to the best of his ability.
“I want to be top 15 in the state,” he said. “As far as a time, it’s hard to say because there are so many changes from race to race. I’m just going to focus on running my best and put it all out there for my last race.”
Last week, Dunkelman was only 30 seconds behind the North’s top three runners, as Aric Turner of Damonte Ranch along with the Spanish Springs duo of Matthew Hakin and Daniel Horner finished 1-2-3 in 17:00. Only two runners from the South cracked 17 minutes during region competition last Friday at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City — Sunset champion Keith Williams of Arbor View (16:58) and Sunrise champion Milton Amezcua of Green Valley (16:46).
Top 15 is a very reasonable goal, if you ask Frey.
“Absolutely, especially with the Vegas kids coming up here,” the coach said. “It’s going to be cold and possibly raining, so anything can happen.”
Douglas Athletic Director Marc Walling was impressed with the drive and determination Dunkelman showed in his first varsity baseball season this past spring.
“He primarily played second base, but he was kind of a backup in a lot of places, in fact he even played a little outfield,” said Walling, who has stepped down as baseball coach to focus on his duties as athletic director. “He’s always a tough out with the bat and just one of those guys, you know you can plug him in anywhere and he’s going to give it his all.”
Dunkelman is an upper echelon skier for Douglas on the Tahoe Basin Ski League circuit, including seventh-place finishes in the giant slalom and combined and ninth-place in the slalom at the league championship meet this past March. There was literally no rest at the end of ski season, either, as Dunkelman immediately picked up his baseball gear and developed into a valuable player for the Tigers both on and off the diamond.
“One of the things about him on the ball field, he’s a dedicated kid who plays hard and who does anything and everything we ask of him,” Walling added. “I would say he’s the ultimate teammate. He’s always looking for ways to help the team win, whether he’s in the game or not.”
That attitude has carried over to benefit the Tigers’ cross country program. And, needless to say, Dunkelman will leave some big shoes to fill after he graduates.
“He’s a great leader for the team,” Frey said. “He’s such a busy and committed kid with so many different things. It’s impressive that he’s able to balance everything. He’s just a great kid who will be remembered for quite a while just for who he is and how he led the team, and for his work ethic.”