Kone ’13 establishes historical Dom-inance
With two national titles in hand, Dom Kone ’13 now faces the challenge of living up to the expectations of an entire campus in addition to those already puts on himself. Following his victory in the 60-meter dash last March, Kone blew away the field en route to the 100-meter race National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III title. His time of 10.24 in the final was the third fastest time ever run in Division III.
Beyond his incredible individual performances, Kone recognizes the effect his success has on his mindset as well as on that of his opponents: “I think it changes it a lot because last year I wasn’t really well-known, so I was kind of the hunter chasing after people faster than me. Now, to be the hunted is a weird feeling and I don’t really like it. If anything though, I think it makes me train harder because I don’t want anyone in the nation the outwork me, so hopefully that will produce a lot fast times. It’s not the best feeling to be the hunted, but I think I’ve been coping with it just fine.”
He will have to continue to cope with these new pressures as successfully as he did last year if he wants to meet his new goals. Kone has tried to avoid mentioning specific numbers when asked about this year’s expectations “because I don’t want to jinx myself, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to run 10.24. So, I’m looking to be somewhere around the range of 10 seconds. I’m not really looking to be under 10 seconds, but if I could get 10.0-something, I think it would be a successful season for me.”
The route to success has been an upward battle for the campus icon though; two years ago, Kone pulled his hamstring in the final of the national title race despite running the fastest time in the nation in the preliminary round of the NCAA meet. In his comeback, Kone “knew a lot of things were going to be against me and a lot of people were thinking I couldn’t get back into it due to this injury, but that just made me train even harder. My entire junior year I kept thinking back to my injury and how far I’ve come. Keeping my performances in mind really pushed me forward.”
This mental strength has been key to Kone’s success in the past, and it continues to play a part in each of his races. “For me it’s all mental. I pretty much need to make myself have fun, and it is fun, so if I go into it thinking I am fast and no one can beat me I tend to be more relaxed. I tell myself over and over again that I’m a good athlete and it will show in my times. I just need to go out there and compete at the level I’m capable of. It starts way before the race even begins, in terms of just mentally preparing for the race. You definitely want to be completely relaxed, because if you’re tense at all it will produce slower times.”
To reach the level Kone has reached though, one needs more than mental prowess. “There are also a lot of things like staying healthy, or making sure you get sleep. There are a lot of things that go into it that help you go faster. I think I did those things last year and I’m going to try and do them again” Kone said.
Combined with these lifestyle choices is, of course, an immense amount of work. A typical day in practice consists of splitting exercises “into the distance runners and the power group, which consists of the jumpers and the sprinters. We pretty much do all of the same things. The days are kind of split up differently. We’ll have a really intense day with high speeds, and then we’ll have a recovery day. We’ll have three or four specific groups, but we do the same lifts and stuff. We always practice with the same people. It does vary a bit from individual to individual, but overall my training stays in line with that of the other guys” Kone said in an interview.
As if all of this wasn’t enough of a load for one person, Kone must also balance the academic commitment a school the caliber of Colby demands. Kone approaches the dilemma with a mindset of having the two “definitely related, and there are times when I have to head to work when I don’t want to. I think I saw my athletic potential though, and I trained really hard so I wanted to do the same exact thing in academics. I tried just as hard in academics because of the effort I was putting into athletics. It definitely wasn’t easy though.”
What makes Kone such a beloved figure on campus isn’t just his success on the track, though. Despite his accomplishments, Kone’s work ethic “hasn’t changed at all. I know people are expecting me to be very confident and even cocky, but I still want to come off as humble and I still want to come off as the same athlete I was last year. I almost want to pretend like I don’t have those national titles so I can go out and repeat.”
So what does the future hold for Colby’s greatest sprinter? “Right now I’m still trying to figure that out, but I think it will all depend on how fast I race in the 100m in the spring, which is a long time to wait,” Kone said, “considering I have to consider grad school, careers and stuff. I think I’m going to have to put all of that on hold though, and it’s all going to depend on how fast I run in the spring. I don’t really know what the process is for running professionally, but I know my time last year qualified me for the U.S. national meet, so I will be looking to run faster and qualify for that next summer. After that hopefully someone offers me a sponsorship, and if that happens I’ll definitely take it. I won’t be able to decline that.”
Kone has established himself as one of the premier athletes in Colby’s sports history. This hasn’t granted him special treatment in the classroom, however; Kone had to take a redeye flight to Maine from Iowa immediately following his championship race in order to take an exam the next morning. It’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make though as he continues to reache heights unparalleled in recent Colby athletic history.