Newly minted Eastern Mennonite University graduate Tyler Denlinger has the next several years pretty well planned out.
Biology degree in hand, he’ll take a job at a local medical lab and study for the MCAT exams before applying to medical school, probably at Penn State, Temple, Pitt or somewhere else in his native Pennsylvania. Someday he will run a nice, family practice where he can get to know his patients and watch them grow.
“I really like the idea of doing family medicine and being somewhere I can develop a relationship with patients over decades,” he said.
“I ran a good mile in the indoor season and felt like I was coming into outdoor very fit,” Denlinger said. “I thought I might be able to keep it going and do well in the 800 and mile during outdoor. As we kept doing sharpening work, the spree came through.”
So far he has lived up to it.
Denlinger has the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s best time in the 800-meter run, crossing the finish line at 1:53.19 at Liberty earlier this spring. He also finished second at the conference meet in the 1,500-meter at 3:57.05. And while he hasn’t locked up a spot at nationals in either event, he and his coaches feel the 6-foot-5, 190-pounder has a good shot, particularly in the 1,500.
“Our training is mostly geared toward the 1,500 at this point,” Denlinger said. “In high school and early in my college career I did more of the long sprints, but I put up some good times in the 800, and with my body type, I think the mile might be the best race for me.”
“I’m not saying it’s going to be a walk in the park for Tyler, but hitting a qualifying mark is in his wheelhouse,” Isaac Bryan, who coaches EMU’s distance runners, said. “I’m really confident he can hit that goal, which will be around 3:50 for the 1,500. It’s a good race setup and the weather looks decent heading into Monday.”
Somehow maintaining a 3.97 grade-point average on a pre-med schedule never slowed his progress athletically, even as a transition from hurdles to long sprints to middle distance meant more time on the track and more miles of road work.
“People talk about it being tough to balance being an athlete with academics,” Denlinger said. “But I think having the structure helps. You know how your time is spent and running can be a time to sort of mentally process everything.”
But for once, he’s able to focus solely on track, at least for the rest of the month, and the payoff could be finishing his Royals career taking a shot against the nation’s best.
This article was published in the May 15, 2017, Daily News-Record.