|Follow PSU Cross Country:||Follow @PennStateTFXC|
Oct. 13, 2011
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- "Whenever you lose athletes to graduation it is always tough,' said Beth Alford-Sullivan, head coach of the Penn State cross country team. "But losing a set of twins like this, it is a double-punch."
Redshirt seniors Kyle and Owen Dawson have been competitive their entire lives...and when it comes to cross country and track, the brothers use this competitiveness to excel.
"I always want to beat my brother," said Owen Dawson. "And I know he always wants to beat me."
The duo came to Penn State after much success in high school, and has carried that success on in Happy Valley. Kyle, a distance specialist, has turned in All-Region efforts and been the number one runner for the Nittany Lion cross country team for most of his career. Owen, who specializes in mid-distance, has seen tremendous success around the track with an eighth place All-American finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 800-meter race in 2010.
"In cross country, these two have just been a great tandem," said Alford-Sullivan. "Kyle has been our number one guy for the majority of his career and Owen has been the guy that sweeps it up for us and brings it home for the team."
On Friday, the duo will be running its final home meet in a Nittany Lion uniform.
"I have mixed feelings towards it," said Kyle. "It is exciting to finish this chapter in my running career but it will be emotional putting on the Penn State uniform for the last time at home."
The meet, the Penn State National, will be held at the Blue/White Golf Course on Friday morning and serves as a very important race for the Dawson brothers and the team as a whole. The Nittany Lions will see some tough competition as they run their final race before the championship season.
"I love our course," said Kyle. "I have had success there in the past and it is sad that this is my last time running it for Penn State."
Last season, Kyle finished second overall in the 5.2-mile race at the Penn State National with a time of 25:24. Owen trailed his brother by only 40 seconds, finishing 30th overall. The brothers helped propel the Nittany Lions to a second place overall finish at the meet.
By no means will these runners be hanging up their spikes following graduation in May.
"I'm not going to focus on what is in store for me after this year just yet, said Owen. "I am here to run. This is my last season, and when it comes down to it, I am here to focus on running."
Both brothers implied that they will look to continue their careers post-college, but cannot have any firm plans on who could sponsor or coach them due to NCAA regulations.
In future seasons, the Nittany Lions will face the pressing task of replacing the success and leadership that the Dawson twins brought to University Park.
"We will be able to find replacement in their leadership because they have done an outstanding job setting a great example and carrying on strong tradition," said Alford-Sullivan. "Not only have they been great athletes, but they have been perfect examples of the kind of greatness and toughness it takes to succeed here at Penn State."
At 10 a.m. on Friday, the gun will go off, and the Dawson twins will cover the grounds of the Blue and White Course one last time as Nittany Lions.
"Not only are these guys quality athletes," said Alford-Sullivan. "They are quality people."