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Natalie Dayharsh – May 1, 2020

Preparing for the next level

Distance runner Dayharsh sets sights on college academic, athletic careers

By Mike Beas

Under normal circumstances, Natalie Dayharsh would be readying herself for the closing kick of her high school track and field career.

Instead, the Danville senior is wondering what might have been.

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the spring sports season, reducing Dayharsh and her teammates to idle status. However, Dayharsh, who was expected to take part in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs for the Warriors, as well as the 3,200 relay, isn’t done attempting to lower her times.

Ranked seventh in her class academically with a 4.2 grade-point average, Dayharsh plans to attend Findlay (Ohio) University, a Division II school athletically, where she’ll be part of the Oilers women’s cross country and track programs.

“Natalie is so passionate about what she does,” said Danville girls track and field coach Sean Adams. “She’s just really consistent and has been a staple of the distance runners for Danville for four years. “It’s just the passion she has to do well, and the determination you see day in and day out. It just permeates throughout her.”

In the fall, Dayharsh’s final high school cross country season netted positive results. She placed 17th at the Brownsburg Sectional in a time of 20:22.7, and a week later was 23rd at the Ben Davis Regional in 19:50.4.

Running in absolutely miserable conditions at the Shelbyville Semistate, Dayharsh’s time of 20:47.5 enabled her to cross the finish line 84th.

Dayharsh participated in a Q&A with the ICON:

Q: When did you become interested in being a distance runner, and why do you think you’ve stayed with it?

A: My freshman year I decided not to run cross country, but my distance coach in track (Nancy Hammel) was super encouraging and made it fun to chase after your goals. With distance running, how much work you put into it is how much you get out of it.

Q: What have you been doing to keep in training for your college cross country and track careers?

A: I actually hurt my right hip during the preseason, so I’ve dialed back my training. I’m still training, but also focusing on my physical therapy. Right now, I’m probably running 15 miles a week, and before that I was putting in 40 to 45 miles a week.

Q: What will be your major at Findlay, and what led you to that decision?

A: Physical therapy. This is the third time I’ve gone through it, and I think I would like to work with individuals because every case would be different. I would probably start at a hospital, but I would eventually like to open my own physical therapy business focused on athletes.

Q: Both academically and athletically, describe what your senior year has been like given the COVID-19 crisis?

A: I’m not going to lie. I’m really sad to think I’ve missed out on all of those experiences. It definitely doesn’t seem fair, but I understand it’s for the health of other people. I miss talking to my friends and my teachers.

Danville senior Natalie Dayharsh missed her senior track season, but the distance runner plans to participate on the Findlay University track and cross country teams. (Photo by Eric Pritchett)

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