Oshkosh Lourdes senior D. T. McDonald competes in 3,200-meter, 1,600-meter and 800-meter runs. He won the 1,600 run last year at state. / Oshkosh Northwestern Photo by Shu-Ling Zhou

A broken arm may never have been quite as influential as it was for Oshkosh Lourdes' senior D.T. McDonald.

That's because McDonald first got involved in cross country after breaking his arm during a football practice in eighth grade.

I was backpedaling and my friend, Max Lieb, he's kind of a beast and he tackled me and I fell on the old arm, McDonald said.

The injury ended his football season before the first game had been played and left McDonald with a lot of free time on his hands.

The free time didn't last long as a few of his friends talked him into going out for cross country.

It was just messing around with my friends, McDonald said. I guess I found that I was pretty good at it, compared to other guys in the city, and I just kind of wanted to see where it would go from there.

McDonald finished fourth at the City Conference Meet that year and went on to train with the Lourdes' high school cross country team after the middle school season, while he was still in middle school. Knights cross country coach Rodney Silvis noticed McDonald's talent the very first practice.

He wanted to go up against the big dogs, Silvis said. You could clearly see, even though there were senior boys right along side of him, he wasn't backing down one step.

McDonald enjoyed his first cross country season so much so that he decided to stick with it and not return to football.

I always loved playing football, but I guess just fell in love with the sport of cross country, just decided right there that's what I was going to do, McDonald said.

When he entered high school, McDonald made an immediate impact on the team and has through his entire career, qualifying for the WIAA Division 3 state cross country meet all four years of high school.

Silvis saw the talent in McDonald and let him know what kind of potential was in him.

I had a conversation with him after his freshman year and Jimmy Leschke had just graduated — who went on to run at the University of St. Thomas … and I said to D.T., 'you can be better than Jimmy, actually I expect that you will be better than Jimmy,' Silvis said.