Former USI runner heads to Olympic Trials

Former USI runner Dustin Emerick leads the pack during the Division II National Championship. The assistant track and field and cross country coach at USI is set to run the Olympic Trials Marathon in California Feb. 22.
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Former USI runner Dustin Emerick leads the pack during the Division II National Championship. The assistant track and field and cross country coach at USI is set to run the Olympic Trials Marathon in California Feb. 22.

Dustin Emerick set a $2,000 goal for his GoFundMe and within 12 days raised $2,140 dollars from various donations.

With the money raised on GoFundMe, a personal fundraising website, Emerick will be able to run the Olympic Trials Marathon in California Feb.13, something he said he’s always dreamed of doing.

“It would be really hard to get there without help,” he said.

He said people started to ask how they could help him, so he expected some support, but not as much as he received.

“It’s absolutely astonishing,” Emerick said.

Cross country and track and field head coach Mike Hillyard said it is no surprise to him how much support Emerick received because he’s respected and liked in the running community.

Emerick ran cross country and track all four years at USI and said he was drawn to the university for multiple reasons.

“USI’s cross country and track program is one of the best in Division II,” Emerick said. “I always respected Coach (Hillyard) and I thought he did a great job. That’s what drew me there originally.”

Emerick started to run when he joined his fifth-grade cross country team.

He said he has no idea why he started running but became more competitive in the sport as time went on.

Emerick became an all-state runner in eighth grade and throughout his high school career earned seven varsity letters in track and cross country.

“I like how running is just you versus yourself… ” he said. “You can push yourself.”

Hillyard said Emerick was always able to push himself.

He’s always had a tremendous work ethic,” Hillyard said. “At times, I would have to hold him back… He was always itching to do it a little bit more and sometimes he would do too much.”

— Mike Hillyard

Hillyard said Emerick was a pleasure to coach because he was so ambitious.

“He was a pretty good talent in high school and we thought he would be a big contributor down the road,” Hillyard said. “His impact was pretty quick.”

Emerick holds a school record in the 10k, which  he set his freshman year.

Now, Emerick is back at the university to make an impact in a different capacity as an assistant coach for both cross country and track.

He said the whole team is aware he will run the marathon and his training reflects some of what the team does to train on a regular basis.

“It will be my first marathon,” he said. “I want to go there and compete.”

He trains by running 125 miles per week.

Even as a runner at the university, Hillyard said Emerick knew he wanted to run in this marathon.

The work it takes to reach this point is something a runner must be willing to do, and Hillyard said Emerick has always been willing.

“A lot of (runners’) obstacles are self-created,” Hillyard said. “He never really thought like that.”