Athlete of the Week: David Paynotta
David Paynotta had his highest career finish at the NCAA Div. III Indoor Track and Field National Championships on March 11.
While most people were on spring break, Paynotta finished second in the 60m dash with a time of 6.82 seconds in the final. He came into the race with the nation’s fastest time at 6.72, but couldn’t get past Jamal Watkins of Birmingham Southern.
Paynotta competed in the 200m final less than an hour later and also managed to put in a strong fifth place performance with a time of 22.05 seconds. His performance was good enough for 12 points and single-handedly put UW-River Falls in a tie for 15th for points at the meet. He finished his indoor career with school records in both the 60m and the 200m.
The Student Voice sat down with Paynotta to discuss his historical season and accomplishments at nationals, while also looking ahead to the outdoor track and field season.
Q: How many times have you been to the NCAA Div. III Indoor Track and Field National Championships?
A: This was my third time in indoor, and I’d been there the two previous indoor seasons.
Q: Did your previous attempts help you to try to improve on your final attempt at the national meet this year?
A: They helped a lot. I was a lot more calm and wasn’t as nervous. You can tell nerves get a lot of people, but I felt different. I just tried to make the most of it because it was my last one.
Q: Did coming into the meet with the fastest time this year give you confidence for what you could accomplish?
A: I thought I was going to win it. I was going for the national record and was really hoping for it, but nobody really ran a fast time in the finals.
Q: What was the mindset going into the 60m finals, after winning your heat but still seeing a gap to the top-seeded time?
A: Prelims I wasn’t really worried about, because I always run a much faster time in finals. I just went out there to win my heat and wasn’t trying to put a big time up or anything. I was just excited to get to the finals, because the prelim races are the ones that get you a little nervous. Once you get to finals, it’s all fun.
Q: What are your impressions from your final 60m race?
A: My start felt pretty good, but Jamal [Watkins] beat me on that first step. He got a really good start and I felt good throughout the race, but with that one step I couldn’t catch him.
Q: Was it challenging to regroup from that to prepare yourself for the 200m final?
A: Not really, because I was really excited for the 200 because I had never made finals before. To be an All-American in that race was really exciting, and I just tried to have fun that day.
Q: How did you feel about your 200m performance, placing fifth in the country in your second-best event?
A: I felt awesome after that. I got to race with Parker [Witt], who is the defending national champion. He got me off to a good start, and it was a really fun race. I didn’t PR in the 200 this year but I had a season best for a flat track in prelims, so I felt really good going into finals.
Q: How exciting is it to see that your top career times have come in your final indoor season, as you move on now to the outdoor season?
A: I’m really excited for outdoor. I didn’t run [outdoor] last year but took a grey shirt. But the year before that, I had top five times in the country for both those races (100m and 200m). My 60 is a lot faster than it was back then, so I’m really excited to see what happens.
Q: Looking forward to the outdoor season, what goals are still on the table for your final season on the track?
A: I want to win the 100 for sure, and I want to be an all-American in the 200, too. It’s a lot of the same [as indoor], but the 100 has a little more room for error, but it’s pretty much the same race.
Q: Do you think you can equal or better the performances you recently accomplished indoors?
A: I think I have a good shot of winning and doing better in the 200 because I don’t have to run the two curves.
Q: Do performances like this help to fire the team up and make them more excited for the coming season?
A: I think it helps. I had one of my teammates come with me to be with and watch it. I know it got him really excited, and for the people watching it kind of inspires them for the next season.