John Owens of Rowan Men’s Track & Field looks to bounce back from recent injuries

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John Owens participates in a race. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

Throughout his career, senior John Owens has been a swiss army knife for the Rowan men’s track & field team.

Over the years, Owens has competed in the long jump, 400-meter hurdles, 4×400-meter relay, 4×100-meter relay, 60-meter dash and the 200-meter. Owens also qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships in both the 400 hurdles and long jump, and he was named an All-Region multiple times for the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association All-Atlantic Region.

All of that was accomplished by a man following in his brothers’ footsteps, hoping to be like them as he grew up.

“I had two older brothers who ran track in high school, and I just grew up wanting to be like them,” Owens said. “They ended up running cross country and short sprints, I didn’t do the cross country part. I played football, but I definitely took a following from them.”

Owens was named a captain during the COVID-19-shortened 2019-2020 indoor season and for the canceled 2020 outdoor season, something his head coach credits to his willingness to help the team.

“He’s just always willing to do whatever the team needs,” Head Coach Dustin Dimit said. “That’s doing different events, that’s volunteering, trying to encourage younger runners… He’s just always there trying to help.”

Owens’ senior year has been riddled with injuries. A broken foot in the summer of 2022 kept him out of fall workouts, and an injury during the 2022-2023 indoor season has kept him sidelined for the beginning of this year’s outdoor season. Despite all of that, expectations for him are still high for his eventual return.

“It’s [the expectation] to come back and be All-American in that [400 hurdles] and then maybe be back in the 4×4, as well,” Coach Dimit said. “He’s a very talented person, but with the injury setback, we just want him to have a good final year… We can’t be worried early on about what he’s running, we just have to be worried about what we want him to be running at the end of the year.”

The foot injury that Owens suffered came from playing flag football, which Coach Dimit admits shouldn’t be happening, but also knows that now there isn’t anything they can do about it.

“Everything he’s done [injury-wise] hasn’t been track-related,” Dimit said. “There’s nothing we can do about that now. We just handle it here, he’s pain-free and that’s what’s important and that’s what will allow him to come back strong and do it when it matters.”

As for Owens, he just wants to get healthy and be useful for his team in more ways than just running.

“My goal this year is to get healthy,” Owens said. “Just to stay healthy and be of use to my team, whether if that’s on the track or in someone’s ear just telling them that they can be anything they wanna be, but whatever it is just to be a support system for my team and to help us get a team title.”

Although he has not run much this year, the confidence his coaches have in him has not wavered one bit. They know that when he comes back in full form, he will be just fine.

“The fact that he’s done so many different things, and a lot of the time we decided to do them late and he still did well in them, shows he’s going to be fine coming back here,” Dimit said. “That’s what we tried to stress to him. He’s worried about it, but there’s plenty of time to run well. He isn’t just going to run well in April or March, he’s going to run well at the end of May because that’s when it matters.”

The former captain will continue to take things one week at a time, and although there is no timetable for when he will come back this season, he will still be at practice to continue to be a leader and help his teammates by any means necessary. 

“I believe that I’m always an open ear,” Owens said. “I’m not a leader who’s gonna talk, I’m just gonna show you by example and I’ll always be there for my teammates. There’s never been any doubt in anybody’s mind that if there is something going on they can’t call me up.”

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