Have you ever wondered what it is like to be the only senior on your team? Well, senior Dylan O’Hara has been running on the cross country team at Notre Dame since his freshman year, and this year, as the only senior on the team, he has taken on the role of captain. 

O’Hara has improved tremendously since joining the cross country team in 2016. O’Hara said he has become a lot more “outgoing”, and he has transformed from a shy freshman who, according to his coach, Tim Paziora, “rarely said more than a few words at a time” to the leader he is today. 

“He is the team captain of  the team this year and leads the team in prayer every morning,” according to Paziora. He continues to encourage the other athletes on the team and helps out Coach Paziora with anything he needs. 

According to his coach, “Dylan’s times have dropped significantly from his freshman year until now. He has dropped over four minutes from his 5k time and has become much stronger than he was.” O’Hara has improved his work ethic significantly since freshman year. Coach Paziora said, “He trained diligently over the summer this year and I expect that to be reflected later in the season with some big performances.”

O’Hara said, “being the only senior on the team is okay”, but he enjoys “being able to become friends with many of the athletes who are juniors or who were seniors last year.”  He has been “very approachable to new athletes on the team,” according to Paziora. O’Hara’s coach also pointed out that “the other athletes know they can go to him if they have any questions about different courses and workouts that we do.” 

O’Hara has tried to keep a positive attitude even on tougher practice days. He works hard to share this mentality with his team to keep morale high. The senior captain believes it is important to “not give up and to just run harder the next day, no matter what happened the day before.” O’Hara’s focus for this year is to improve his running, leadership qualities, and sleep schedule throughout this season. 

O’Hara is in almost all AP and honors courses here at Notre Dame, so it can be difficult to balance school, friends, and sports. However, Coach Paziora said that “Dylan has taken steps this year to manage his time so that he can perform better in school and cross country,” which is something everyone can aspire to do. 

Looking back on his four years on the team, O’Hara believes the most important lesson he learned was “the importance of running because it is a very important skill to have because it is something you can do for your whole life to stay active and healthy.” He recommends that freshmen get involved with any sport or activity because it is a good way to get involved, stay active, and make new friends. O’Hara recently placed 12th in the Fountain Hills invitational and is hoping to improve his placement in the next races to come.