Athlete of the Month: Conor Donahue

photo courtesy: Joe Gray

photo courtesy: Joe Gray

Although track was not always a focus for Conor Donahue ’14, it has grown to become an important part of his time at PHS.

Donahue started running for his middle school track team in sixth grade, competing in sprinting events. He came to enjoy distance events after he started running the 800-meter race a couple of years later. “In eighth grade, I decided to move up a little bit and I tried out the 800, which is a mid-distance event, and I was actually pretty decent at it,” said Donahue. This May, Donahue became Mercer County Champion in the 800, winning the race in a time of 1:57.84.

Yet even at the beginning of his freshman year, Donahue did not value track over other sports. “I was doing soccer, actually, freshman year in the fall. I didn’t really think too much about track at all, besides maybe [about] doing it in the spring,” said Donahue.

Following the cancellation of his travel soccer team’s indoor futsal season, Donahue faced a choice between joining winter track or working out with his soccer team He eventually decided to join winter track a week late. “I loved the atmosphere, loved the people there, and I started getting really good. One thing led to another, and I chose to stick with it.”

As Donahue became more interested in the sport, he began to discover that there was much more to track than simply running in circles. “When you get to the high level … strategy starts getting involved,” said Donahue. “How you train becomes part of your race, and you have different plans; it’s amazing.” Donahue is known for his ability to outrun his competition toward the very end of his races, taking advantage of his opponents when they are at their weakest.

This  ability was on display at the 2013 Spring County Meet, which Donahue sees as the highlight of his track career. “It was me against [Jake and Dan Riff], a [set]

of twins from West Windsor Plainsboro South,” said Donahue. “And it looked like they basically had me beat. I picked it up, I had an amazing kick, and I actually out-leaned them at the line, winning the [1600 meter] county title with that.” Donahue has now won three 1600-meter county titles and holds a 4:17.11 personal record for the event.

“That race was [Donahue’s] breakout race,” said distance track coach James Smirk. “The Riff brothers have been great competitors their entire career[s] and he was able to use his strengths and have confidence in his training and his efforts … to be really successful that day.”

Track and field has enabled Donahue to compete against himself, which has motivated him to become a better runner. “Everybody’s trying to PR, beat their times, [and] beat themselves. That’s something that the top guys can share with the bottom guys.”

For Donahue, the ultimate college experience will come from finding a balance between running and academics. “In high school I really enjoyed the feeling of being a student athlete. Not just an athlete. That’s why I chose to go Division III; that’s why I’m going to Bowdoin [College],” said Donahue.

If you could be any superhero, which would you be?

Nightcrawler, because teleportation is super convenient

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

Peregrine falcon

How do you feel about clowns?

So many have an irrational fear of them … that said, they are pretty creepy

What is the theme song to your life?

Obla-di Obla-da

What do your feet smell like?

After a run? Bigfoot’s socks

If you could name an a cappella group, what would it be?

Fellowship of the Sing