George Dohner ran long distance at Stephen F. Austin University, and he had a vision for his lanky son in sixth grade; he wanted Ryan to run track. It’s not the ideal sport for any sixth grader, but Ryan loved the early mornings and long runs, joining the school team in middle school. Now, an All-American at UT, Dohner looks back at those times with fondness. He knows he wouldn’t be in the place he is without his dad.
“My dad was very encouraging,” Dohner said. “He’s always been my number one fan.”
Dohner made his dad proud. During his four years at Texas, Dohner earned four All-American honors in track, four cross country All-American honors and was selected as an All-Big 12 cross country runner twice. He’s been imperative to the success of the cross country program.
“Ryan has been a quiet leader and a person that people listen to and respect a great deal,” assistant cross country coach Brad Herbster said. “Dohner has been improving steadily throughout the season and is looking to have his best performance of the year at the biggest meet of the season, the NCAA Championships.”
As a senior, Dohner admits he’s disappointed by his final season. The team struggled at times but is slowly improving.
The Longhorns’ struggles include dealing with critical fans and opponents. Dohner said he’s seen negativity on message boards and social media, but his goal for the NCAA Championships is to prove those people wrong.
“We’ve had an up and down season. A mediocre season,” Dohner said. “Nationals is the only race that matters. With the guys we have, we can surprise a lot of people and just come out knowing we gave it everything.”
The NCAA Championships will be Dohner’s final cross country event, and his last opportunity to change this season’s script.
“I feel he is primed and ready to have a big day at NCAA’s,” Herbster said. “NCAA’s will be equally as important to work together and deliver a performance that can send Ryan into the indoor track season with great confidence.”