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Dressler’s determination lands him cross country scholarship at RMU

From average to elite
Butler senior Owen Dressler, flanked by parents Beckie and Mike Dressler, recently signed a letter of intent to continue his academic and distance running career at Robert Morris University. Looking on are, at left, Butler boys track and field coach Mike Seybert and Golden Tornado cross country coach Rick Davanzati. John Enrietto/Butler Eagle

BUTLER TWP — Running in somebody’s shadow is something Owen Dressler has grown accustomed to — and benefited from.

The Butler senior came up through the Golden Tornado’s track and field program as a distance runner, following in the footsteps of older brother Aden, now a senior on Washington & Jefferson’s cross country and track and field teams. He’s spent his entire high school career trying to stay with teammate Drew Griffith, who owns national and state records.

“Not much I could do about that,” Dressler said, smiling. “Drew is incredible, one of the best ever. Just running with him, watching his technique, his training ... I’ve learned so much.”

He learned enough to recently sign a national letter of intent to continue his academic and cross country career at Robert Morris University. He plans to major in accounting.

Dressler also considered Allegheny, Youngstown State and Washington & Jefferson before opting to join the Colonials.

“I had a great visit there,” he said. “I loved the facilities, the team. Robert Morris has everything I was looking for.”

Four years ago, it appeared Dressler would never be in a position to weigh collegiate options for distance running.

“Back in ninth grade, Owen was extremely average,” Butler boys track and field coach Mike Seybert said. “His distance times were not that good. We had a number of guys who were faster.

“But that all changed. Through desire and dedication, learning from the staff and using his own hard work, Owen began climbing the ladder. He got better and better each year.”

Dressler had other motivation as well.

“I wanted to beat my brother’s best times in high school. I was able to do that,” he said. “We’ve always been competitive with each other.”

In heading to Robert Morris, Dressler will rejoin former Butler teammate Skyler Vavro, who will be a senior with the Colonials in the fall. Seneca Valley graduate Eli DeWitt, a sophomore, is on the RMU cross country roster as well.

“Owen will be a good fit for their cross country team,” Butler cross country coach Rick Davanzati said. “Having Skylar there is going to help him transition to college. And I love the way Owen keeps following Drew Griffith’s training regimen.

“If Drew runs four sets of 1,000 meters, or some other combination, Owen does the same thing. Drew has been a great example for Owen and Owen has just soaked up that knowledge.”

From being the “average” runner Seybert described as a freshman, Dressler ended his senior season by helping the Tornado’s 3,200-meter relay team place sixth at the PIAA Championships. That same unit had the fastest time in the county this season at 7 minutes, 53.54 seconds.

Dressler also has the third-fastest time in the county this year in the 3,200. His time of 9:24.23 trails only Griffith and Freeport’s Michael Braun. Griffith set the state record in the Class 3A 3,200 and Braun placed in the 2A 3,200 at the PIAA meet.

Bryan Delsite has been RMU’s cross country coach for four years. The boys finished sixth out of 10 teams at the Horizon League Championships while having only two seniors on the roster.

“All I want to do is help the team,” Dressler said. “I know I’m going to keep getting better.”

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