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Zander Dunbar is off to a great start to his 2022 track and field season. The St. Augustine senior ended things in 2021 by finishing second in the 800m at the LHSAA Outdoor State Championships with a 1:57.62 PR.
On January 8, 2022, he showed how much he has been working and preparing for this season by opening up with a 2:00.31 indoor personal best at the LSU High School Classic.
That was just the beginning as he lowered that in a major way with a big performance in Texas. Dunbar competed in the 800m at the Carl Lewis Invitational in Houston, Texas over the weekend where he dropped a 1:57.81 to finish in third place.
The time isn't the only indicator that Dunbar is ready to compete this year, but the in-race situations he faced in Houston were all but smooth and care free-running lanes.
Dunbar drew the innermost lane position and when the gun went off, things immediately got physical. The first lap was a constant battle for positioning despite the early 25 second opening 200m split from the leader. Dunbar was able to come through 400 meters in approximately 55 seconds and by the 600m mark, he finally had an open lane to race.
Despite a race that wasn't without incident, Dunbar was determined not to trip to Houston be for nothing. He got boxed in, tripped a couple of times, and spiked but he kept his composure and he fought, saying, "I think the best thing to do is keep fighting in those races, the 800 is a mans rans, as long as you keep going, it'll be alright."
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It could have been easy for Dunbar to fold and just be complacent with getting experience in a tough situation, but if you know him then you know that isn't how he rolls.
Not that Dubar seeks difficult situations, but he has learned to embrace and deal with them when they arise. "You gotta to have heart, always believe in yourself, never be scared, never be afraid to fight for what you want to do, keep pushing hard don't let anyone stop you. If you feel like you can do it then go for it," he said.
"You gotta to have heart, always believe in yourself, never be scared, never be afraid to fight for what you want to do, keep pushing hard don't let anyone stop you. If you feel like you can do it then go for it,"
Zander Dunbar, St. Augustine senior
Fight is exactly what he did in the third 200m. Dunbar passed two runners to get in the third position. After a tough three laps and still producing a solid 1:26 split at 600m, he held on for third place overall and the indoor PR in the event.
The 800m is one of Dunbar's favorite events in the sport. It's tough. It's hard; that's why he likes it.
"It's a mix of sprinting, I think people forget that you have to pace yourself in this race you can always go out to fast and get tired, that's all a part of the race," he said.
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Whether it's the 800m, another track and field event, or something else, Dunbar is ready to tackle anything that comes his way. He is getting prepared for the current and future obstacles in life that he may face.
That training and preparation is courtesy of St. Augustine High School. "It's an all-boys school for African American young men in New Orleans," Dunbar describes it.
St. Augustine or "Saint Aug" as it's affectionately also known as was opened in 1951 with intentions of education of young men from black Catholic families in New Orleans.
Dunbar credits the school and the coaching staff for their support and direction, saying, "It means a lot they support me to come out here and do these types of things."
Dunbar is on path as many of his St Augustine predecessors. He is committed to Tulane University for track and field, saying he chose Tulane because, "I want balance, I want an education with a strong degree, to be successful in life, and to be a good person." He plans on studying political science, "I want to be a lawyer, but also a politician, someone who makes change in my community."
When not running track, Dunbar likes to read and play sports with his brother, " i'm kind of an all around person, so I like to do everything." Thanks to the support he gets and also gives along with the work he puts in on the track and in the classroom, he has a bright future.