Senior runner Nathan Rosenbaum leads the Polar Bears to a first-place finish at the Bluffton Invitational on August 29, 2014. (ONU sports photo/Sports Information)

For senior cross-country runner Nathan Rosenbaum, this is it. This is the finale- the last time.

While Rosenbaum plans to run after college, he says that “you can’t really do cross-country after you graduate. You can’t run on a real team anymore; you can have running ‘teams,’ but nothing like this.”

Rosenbaum and the Polar Bears started the season with two team victories at the Bluffton Invitational and the Taylor (Ind.) Invitational, which Rosenbaum won by 15 seconds. Last weekend, the Bears finished fourth out of 20 teams at the Calvin Knight (Mich.) Invitational.

Rosenbaum is coming off of a season where he made it to the NCAA Division III championship race for the first time, finishing 152nd out of 275 runners. He was the first ONU runner since 2008 to qualify for the national championships.

“It was definitely intimidating, and it was tough not having my team there to race with me,” Rosenbaum said. He also explained how most of the race was about “learning how to run the race,” because most of the runners were clumped in the same time range and there was very little disparity.

At the national championship race, Rosenbaum was awarded the “Elite 89” award, which is given to the athlete with the highest GPA in each NCAA national championship event; he is the third Polar Bear ever to win the award.

On top of that, Rosenbaum was named to the Capital One Academic All-American first team.

Rosenbaum is a Mechanical Engineering major, and this summer he interned at Luk USA in Wooster, Ohio. “I did more assembly line, hands-on work, which I enjoyed,” Rosenbaum said. “Eventually, I just want to do something where I can be innovative and make a difference.”

Heading into this season, Rosenbaum is one of the fastest runners in the OAC. He finished behind Mount Union runners Dan McGeary and Alex Wilson in the 2013 OAC championship meet, and Northern finished second in the OAC behind Mount for the second year in a row.

“We definitely keep our eyes on them,” Rosenbaum said of Mount Union.

Rosenbaum has been at the top of the OAC for a while now. He finished fourth in the OAC championship meet during his freshman year, thirteenth his sophomore year and third last year.

“He has grown so much in his time at ONU. He has a strong work ethic, he is an intelligent racer and he is a good teammate to those around him,” coach Jason Maus said of Rosenbaum. “Nathan does a great job of executing race plans and seeing things happen around him, not panicking and responding to situations.”

In the offseason, Rosenbaum trains mostly by himself. He does not race in the summer, but instead he uses it to get into peak shape.

“I get up to the mid-70 miles-per-week range, usually with a couple of track workouts every week,” Rosenbaum, the Orrville, Ohio native, said.

So, what drives one of the best runners in Ohio Northern history? Rosenbaum mentions those who came before him, such as Jimmy O’Brien (Class of 2009) and Alan Bowsher (Class of 2010). O’Brien claims the fourth-greatest 8k time in ONU history (24:56), while Bowsher claims the fifth-greatest time (24:58).

But mostly, Rosenbaum is driven by himself.

“I just try to maximize my potential,” Rosenbaum said. “My biggest fear is being given certain gifts and not using them. I don’t want people to say, ‘He was talented, but he never really worked as hard as he could’ about me.”

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