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Whitewater’s Fassbender has worked hard to get where he is and now he’s pushing for a national championship

David Fassbender (No. 362) had made it to the NCAA Indoor Championship qualifier in the 5,000-meter run and distance medley relay before it was canceled. (Photo: Michael McLoone/UW-Whitewater Athletics)

WHITEWATER, Wis. (BVM) — David Fassbender was entering the NCAA Indoor Championships in March for the 5,000-meter run with the mindset of winning a national championship. He was going with the momentum that has been building up ever since he stepped onto the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus three years ago.

His junior year in particular had been going perfectly up to that point. He had finished sixth at the NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Championship, earning him All-American status for the second year in a row. It was the highest a Warhawk had placed in the national meet in program history and his 24:32.7 finish was also the third-best time a Warhawk had recorded at the national meet.

During the indoor track season, Fassbender won a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) championship in the 3,000-meter run and helped his team win the distance medley relay. 

“It just felt like the momentum, the switch turned off,” Fassbender said of the moment he heard that NCAA was canceling the indoor championships.

What followed was continued uncertainty about the outdoor season before that was canceled as well. Then came the announcement that college classes would be finished online.  

“It was stressful,” Fassbender said.

However, he is now back to focusing on his senior year at Whitewater and looking to keep the momentum going even after the setback.

“I think the championship is possible,” Fassbender said. “I really think this is the year to do that because we’re going to have some good runners coming in. … We truly believe that this is our final shot.”

Fassbender is focused and ready to push his team to accomplish all that they can in his final year, even using motivation from his time in high school back in Slinger, Wis., to push not only himself, but his team.

“I remember in high school we always came up just short,” Fassbender said. “I want to get over that.”

Leading through his actions in both his athletics and his academics, Fassbender is ready for any other leadership role he may have to take on. 

“I know that may become a bigger role for me this upcoming season,” Fassbender said. “It’s a huge responsibility to make sure I set a good example for my teammates.”

On top of being a good teammate and leader, Fassbender is also looking to push himself for personal reasons. He’s getting ready to cap off a career that will go down as one of the best in Warhawks program history.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling but it’s not over yet,” Fassbender said.

As a sophomore, he finished 21st at the national cross country meet, becoming the program’s second All-American in the past decade with a time of 24:52.2

“I know that first year finishing 21st at nationals was huge,” Fassbender said. “It was a tight race — 18th to 40th was like a 10-second spread.”

Fassbender is a two-time WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll student and has earned numerous awards, including the 100 Percent award, Sportsmanship award, Sophomore of the Year, Junior of the Year, Indoor Season Most Valuable Performer, Indoor Performer of the Year and True Warhawk Award honors.

Fassbender also holds the program’s best time in the indoor 3,000-meter run (8:15.57), third-best time in the indoor 5,000-meter (14:26.33), fourth-best time in the outdoor 10,000-meter (30:32.40), and 10th-best time in the outdoor 5,000-meter (14:47.28).

What makes all of Fassbender’s accomplishments even more impressive is the fact he has autism and has worked harder than most to get where he is.

“I just never really think about having autism, and I usually can fit in with whoever I want to,” Fassbender said in a UW-Whitewater interview.

Fassbender shows that hard work and dedication to his passion will allow him to accomplish anything. This last season as Warhawk could be historic just like the rest of his career.

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