Dunkleberger eager to begin next phase of athletic career on Iowa State football team
LAKE MILLS — It was just this past May that Lake Mills athlete Ben Dunkleberger announced his decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania as a track and field athlete.
This fall, he announced via social media site Twitter that he was switching directions and would be transferring to Iowa State University to play football. He recently explained his decision for making the change.
“Before I made a decision on going to the University of Pennsylvania to run track, I knew that my favorite sport was football, and I made my decision solely based on academic prowess and on the long-term health of my body,” he wrote.
The former L-Cat athletic star said he loves track but admitted football is his greater love and felt a change of heart after watching the first few weeks of college football this fall. He said playing college ball was a childhood dream, and watching the Saturday contests left him feeling like “that could have been me.”
Rather than regret missing his favorite sport, Dunkleberger decided to do something about it.
First, though, he had to talk things over with his parents and other loved ones to make sure they understood the decision he was making.
“I knew I had to follow my heart, and my heart was telling me to play football again,” he said. “That was the sport that I truly loved the most, and I didn’t want to regret not taking the chance and playing it.”
He finally concluded his past decision to pursue a career in track and field with his head and did not listen to anything else; he chose instead to listen to his heart in addition to his mind, and settled on a college football career.
Luckily, he had contacts to approach about the change. Dunkleberger indicated he had been recruited by an assistant coach at the University of Illinois last year, who had since moved on to Iowa State.
When the former L-Cat realized he wanted to get back onto the field, he contacted Iowa State to continue the established relationship, and was informed the Cyclones had a spot on the team for a player like Dunkleberger if he wanted it.
“Boy, did I want it,” Dunkleberger said. “I never thought a team would still want me to be a part of their team.”
He said he liked the way the Cyclones wanted to use him on their team and so discussed the option of Iowa State with the people he was close to.
After a week or two, he said he was all in.
The three-sport athlete finished his prep football career with 2,777 passing yards in his senior season before helping his basketball team to a regional semifinal contest against local rival Lakeside Lutheran.
He capped his senior year with a repeat performance at state track, where he was seventh in the boys Division 2 100-meter dash, seventh in 300-meter hurdles, and won state championships in both the long and triple jump.