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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Despite injuries, men’s cross country runner David Zeller stays determined

David Zeller is a junior on the Marquette men’s cross country team. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Seven years ago, junior David Zeller joined his high school’s cross-country team because he did not feel like trying out for soccer.

“I accidentally got good at cross-country in high school. Then, one of the guys I was teammates with in high school, he ran here for a couple years and got me interested in here. Then I met Coach Sean and it’s all history,” Zeller said.

Zeller said he attributes his ability to be competitive and work hard every single day, even now, to his success. This gave him a leg up in the college recruiting process.

Head coach Sean Birren said when he first met Zeller in 2020, he was excited about his potential. 

“He was just one of those kids that was down-to-earth and excited about running. He was passionate about the sport and showed from day one that he was going to be somebody that was really going to want to be plugged in and part of the team dynamic,” Birren said. “He definitely is living up to that.”  

Since Zeller arrived at Marquette, he has experienced constant setbacks which he said has made his athletic career more difficult than he would have liked. 

“I get hurt all the time. Even this year I dealt with some knee issues halfway through the season. Every other conference meet, other than this year, I found myself hurt somehow,” Zeller said. “It’s taught me to be very patient and obviously, it’s given me resilience.” 

Through these injuries, Zeller was cautious about his training regiment, which has increased his restraint and taught him waiting is better than risking further damage.

Junior Thomas Leonard said Zeller could handle injuries well while also staying active.

“He’s able to put himself through a lot,” Leonard said. “Running-wise, he’s able to deal with a lot of pain than most people I know. It seems as if last year there was always something little going on where he’d have a little injury where normally you wouldn’t be able to race, but he still would say ‘No, I want to race. I want to see what happens.'”

Zeller’s dedication has paid off, making him able to be close to all-time records for Marquette.

At the Bradley “Pink” Classic Oct. 14, Zeller achieved a personal record in the 8K race.

“It was my first time under 25 minutes for an 8k, which is kind of a big barrier a lot of our guys are shooting for,” Zeller said. “It’s the getting under five minutes per mile for our races, which is much harder than it sounds, unfortunately. It was super awesome to do that.” 

Birren said he believes Zeller breaks these barriers because of the mentality he follows and his ability to be smart while training.

“You can’t have a lot of setbacks,” Birren said. “Which is kind of funny because that’s what David is coming off of, but for that whole cross-country season and the last part of the summer, he’s done a very good job and really plays into that mindset that you need to be consistent.”

Zeller got his first look at the 10k distance while at the NCAA Great Lakes regional meet. Even though the Marquette men’s team placed 25th out of 29, Zeller beat the pace of his teammates, clocking a personal best time of 31:41.3 while placing 75th overall at the event.

With one and a half years of eligibility remaining, Birren said he’s optimistic about the growth Zeller can make with the Golden Eagles. 

“If he can continue to do what he’s been doing, he’ll probably be a whole lot better athlete if he wants to continue doing that in the years after he leaves,” Birren said. “He’s got the mindset and he’s got a tolerance to be able to put some workload in for sure. He just has to stay motivated.” 

Zeller has accrued many personal achievements throughout his career, while focusing on himself through injuries and betterment. Though, he still cites his teammates as being the most important part of his experience.

“It’s obviously cool to improve on your own but seeing the guys you work hard with every day improve with you is just a very rewarding experience,” Zeller said. “Finishing a race and looking back to see all of your buddies cross the finish line too is just so rewarding.” 

This story was written by Benjamin Hanson. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @benhansonMU.

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Benjamin Hanson
Benjamin Hanson, Sports Reporter
Ben Hanson is a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minnesota studying journalism, digital media and advertising. He is a sports reporter and the assistant social media producer for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. When he's not in the newsroom, he likes creative writing, being with friends and going to sporting events. He is excited to be able to spread the word of the Marquette Wire because it has done so much for him while also refining his sports writing.

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