Dylan Fearon passed up an athletic scholarship from Hofstra to tryout for Quinnipiac men’s cross country
Imagine the surprise of Quinnipiac cross country head coach Carolyn Martin, when one of her freshman runners showed up to practice in bright white cross-training shoes.
It was 2013, and Dylan Fearon came to practice as a walk-on — still learning the ropes of collegiate-level cross country.
“They were almost like what a nurse would wear to work,” Martin said. “They were not running shoes. We didn’t let him run more than three miles in those shoes that day because we didn’t want him to get injured.”
But regardless of his shoes, Fearon impressed Martin.
“He asked a lot of questions, and it was fun to kind of teach him,” Martin added. “If you asked him to jump he’d say ‘How high coach?’”
Martin praised Fearon, now a junior, as a hard worker who would always do what was asked of him. Fearon would need this work ethic and drive if he ever wanted to contribute to the team.
Before Fearon committed to Quinnipiac, Martin was not even sure she would have room for him on her roster.
“Based on his performances from high school, he was a solid runner but wasn’t someone that we could potentially give any money too,” Martin said.
At the end of his freshman year, Martin noticed that Fearon started making massive improvements.
“His first season was a transition,” she said. “He’s really learned how to run…. he’s the type of kid that does anything you ask of him. He focused on learning the sport and learning as much as he could. He learned a lot and now he really is one of the more knowledgeable athletes on the team.”
Now, the enthusiastic walk-on who once brought his cross-training shoes to practice is on scholarship as one of Quinnipiac’s top runners.
“He’s been a huge addition to our team,” Martin said. “We were really lucky to get an athlete like him. I can’t wait to see what he is going to do next because he really is going to improve. It’s been exciting. He has turned around my entire team.”
Fearon is currently having one of the best seasons of his career for the Bobcats. Fearon started the year with a career-high 11th place finish, placing him at a career-high second place for his team at the Stony Brook Invitational on Sep. 5th.
Fearon ran an even better race at the Rider Invitational on Sep. 19th, where he built upon both career high finishes from Stony Brook. Fearon finished No. 7 overall, posting the fastest time for the Bobcats, both of which are his new career-high placements.
Fearon finished 35th overall and first for the Bobcats for the second meet in a row at the Paul Short Invitational on Oct. 2nd. Finishing fourth for the Bobcats and 91st overall at the New England Championships on Oct. 10, Fearon has scored in every race for the Bobcats this season.
“We thought this year was going to be a little bit of a down year, having Brendan Copley who was our top runner last year red-shirting this year,” Martin explained. “Dylan stepped it up and he’s filling in the gaps.”
Fearon is nearly impossible to miss with his 6-foot-5-inch frame and his outgoing personality. Whether you see him in his cross country uniform, his suit for Q30, or his everyday street clothes, Dylan Fearon is a memorable character.
“He really has a contagious personality,” Martin said. “So he’s really helped change my team outlook and he helps keep everyone positive and helps get everyone pumped up. He really has a personality where he can get people to follow him. He’s a leader.”
A major key to Fearon’s success is his competitive drive, which he believes comes from his father.
“My dad’s from England and he’s a huge soccer guy,” Fearon said. “Ever since I was a kid we would watch soccer every weekend and we’d be super competitive and my dad would just be screaming at the TV. His passion for sports rubbed off on me.”
Fearon’s passion for sports and competition has been the key to his breakout season, and it shows in his attitude when he runs.
“He goes to the extreme when he does things,” Martin said. “He is serious and he is focused on race day. He knows what his plan is. He’s a little more quiet on race day than he is normally at practice but he’s all business…. He knows what he wants to accomplish and he knows what the team wants to accomplish and he keeps that focus the whole time.”
His will to compete is what brought Fearon to Quinnipiac University in the first place. In fact, Fearon turned down a scholarship from Hofstra for a chance to run with the Bobcats.
“Hofstra offered me $10,000 a year to run for them, plus academic money so I wasn’t going to be paying much to go there, and I was also going in knowing I was going to be the No. 1 runner for all four years,” Fearon said.
Why would Fearon turn down a scholarship and a guaranteed top spot on Hofstra’s roster?
It’s simple; he wanted to win.
According to Fearon, this was his thought process: “I can get money but I’m going to be the best and it’s not going to be that much fun because our team isn’t going to be very good. Or I can go somewhere else and walk on and work my way up and try to contribute to the team and not take any money. So I ended up coming here.”
Fearon emphasizes hard work and trust in his coaches as the keys to his success.
“I was probably the worst on the team when I first showed up,” Fearon said. “But you trust the system, trust your teammates, trust your coaches and you work hard.”
As far as Fearon is concerned, there is only one way to improve.
“The only thing you can do is bring your everything because nobody is going to treat you seriously if you don’t,” he said. “So I just had to start bringing it every day, started getting better, and started improving.”
“No one is going to run more miles over the summer,” Fearon added. “I ran 105 miles one week this summer. I was consistently running 85 miles per week. I hit 90 a couple times and then one week I just felt like going all out and I threw down 105.”
Immediately before his junior year, Dylan Fearon was awarded his scholarship.
“Did I expect it?” Fearon said. “Maybe not this soon, but I definitely knew it was attainable to be one of the top guys just because I’m a grinder and no one is going to outwork me.”