Seven-time All-American. School record holder in six events. Twelve-time first-team all-Mountain West honoree.
These are just a few of the accolades that describe Utah State track and field’s most prolific distance runner in school history. Dillon Maggard will look to add to his legacy next week at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, which will be held Wednesday through Saturday, June 6-9, at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
“It means a lot,” Maggard said of leaving a lasting legacy. “It feels good to say I am one of the more decorated distance runners at Utah State. But, what is more important to me are the friendships that I have made since coming here. I’ve grown a lot as a person, as well. Yeah, I’ll think about all the accolades and everything, but what is more important to me is my relationship with (head cross-country) coach (Artie) Gulden and my relationships with my teammates like Jordan (Beutler) and Clay (Lambourne).”
Maggard is one of six Aggies who qualified for the NCAA Championships, doing so in the 10,000-meter run and the 5,000-meter run.
“I kind of shocked myself a little bit, but coach Gulden believed I could do it,” Maggard said. “I kind of joked about it and said I was going to do it for a while, but I always thought it was crazy; it’s kind of absurd. It’s 15 kilometers of racing in three days. I tried to focus on one race at a time, but it means a lot. I shocked myself to a certain extent, and kind of learned about myself, too. A lot of it is just believing, and if you can believe, you can do it, which is what helped me.”
By punching those tickets to Eugene, Maggard assured himself of earning two more All-American accolades. The top-eight finishers in each event earn first-team honors, the next eight placers garner second-team accolades and the final eight finishers are tabbed honorable mention.
When the dust finally settles on his collegiate career, Maggard will have earned nine All-American citations, including an eye-popping five during his senior season alone. James Parker, who represented the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics, also finished with nine All-American honors.
“At least for our program, he’s shown all of us what hard work and dedication can do,” said Gulden, who is in charge of the Aggie distance runners during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. “Obviously, he has some God-given talent that he’s been blessed with, but he’s developed that talent through hard work and dedication, and really helped show his teammates the way, helped show them what is possible.”
Maggard punched his ticket to Eugene in the 10,000 meters when he placed seventh in the event with a time of 29:15.45 at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California.
Just two days later, Maggard punched his second ticket to Eugene after finishing first in his section and sixth overall in the semifinals of the 5,000 meters. The native of Kirkland, Washington, crossed the finish line in 13:49.42.
“I was confident that he had the ability to make it in the 10,000, and one of the things that we talked about in terms of entering both is to almost have the 5,000 to fall back on,” Gulden explained. “If something weird were to happen in the 10k, where he falls or cramps up, then that’s not it. He still would have another opportunity. So, going into the 5k, we really had no expectations other than he knew he was going to do his best and run hard, and he stayed out of trouble and fortunately had some pretty fresh, strong legs over the last 600 meters when he took the lead and was able to power home.
“Doing the double is one thing, but doing the double in the West region is a whole different ballgame because of how strong it is,” Gulden continued. “There were a lot of elite guys that were fresh in the 5,000 that didn’t even make it to nationals. It’s pretty cutthroat, those top-12 places in the West region, and fortunately he was strong enough to be able to do both of them.”
Maggard will compete in the finals of the 10,000 meters on Wednesday at 8:08 p.m. MT, and the finals of the 5,000 meters on Friday at 8:25 p.m.
Maggard began his senior season of distance running by becoming the first Aggie to win multiple cross-country All-America honors when he placed sixth, the best finish ever for a Utah State runner, at the 2017 NCAA National Cross Country Championships with a time of 29:16.20.
Not only did he finish sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, but Maggard helped Utah State qualify as a team for the first time in school history.
“These last couple of seasons have been great,” Maggard said. “Qualifying as a team for the first time in school history in cross-country, and now qualifying as a distance medley relay team, is incredible. The biggest thing that has contributed to my success is embracing running as a lifestyle – not staying up late, staying hydrated, running almost every single day and listening to coach Gulden.
“But honestly, Utah State has given me so many opportunities to be successful, ranging from the training table, training room, refueling station, access to tutors, beautiful running trails, high elevation and so forth. Everything I need to be successful is right here in Logan.”
Maggard carried that momentum over into the indoor track and field season, where he helped lead the Aggies’ distance medley relay team to first-team All-American honors by placing sixth with a school-record time of 9:32.31 at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas.
Maggard anchored the team and ran the fastest 1,600-meter split in the event at 3:56.53 to push USU into fifth place in the final standings.
The following day, Maggard captured fifth place in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:06.69 to earn another first-team All-American accolade.
“The last few years, I’ve really dedicated myself to the sport,” Maggard said. “My sophomore year, junior year and senior year, it takes awhile for all those miles to kick in and see the benefit of it, so it is cool. I always thought I worked hard, but I didn’t know how hard I worked until I started getting these results.”
Besides the DMR school record, Maggard has also set the indoor standard in the mile (4:01.25, 2017), 3,000 meters (7:52.99, 2018) and 5,000 meters (13:40.59, 2018). Outdoors-wise, he ranks first in the 1,500 meters (3:42.15, 2017) and 5,000 meters (13:30.02, 2018), and he is second in the 10,000 meters (29:01.00, 2018).
Maggard knows his good fortune to stay relatively healthy throughout his career at Utah State has helped him achieve all this success.
“I haven’t really had any serious injuries,” he said. “I have pretty good mechanics that allow me to not get as many injuries, which helps me. I try to get new shoes every 400 miles or so and try to stay on top of rolling out and stretching, working with (athletic trainer) Sonia (DelBusso) and doing different exercises. I had a lot of Achilles issues last summer and she basically cured me of that. She gave me lots of exercises to do that worked on my stabilizing muscles. With each of those little injuries, you try to improve in other areas so that when you do come back, you’re stronger and you have more knowledge about what you need to do to not get injured.”
While his collegiate running career may be coming to a close soon, Maggard plans to extend his career at the next level.
“I’ve been communicating with an agency that I am most likely going to sign with,” said the son of Eric Maggard and Stephanie Price. “I am going to be able to run in Europe for the month of July with some European circuits out there, so I am really looking forward to that opportunity. After next Saturday, I’ll sign with that agency and they’ll present me with different contracts and I’ll have to pick the best one.”
Maggard will complete his bachelor’s degree in conservation and restoration ecology this summer. He will also compete in the 5,000 meters at the USA Outdoor Championships later this month at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.