Dylan Kautz

South Dakota's Dylan Kautz, center, competes in the finals of the men's 60-meter dash during Saturday's Dakota Realty Alumni Track Meet at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Kautz won the event in a time of 6.88.

VERMILLION — Sorry Huskers, Dylan Kautz wanted to run on the track instead of the turf.

Choosing between the two sports was indeed a difficult decision for the Norfolk (Nebraska) Catholic graduate.

“Really tough,” Kautz said Saturday.

“Throughout my whole career, I was thinking about playing football, and all of a sudden I had a change of heart.”

He wanted to run track.

And eventually, Kautz — who had been one of the premier sprinters in Nebraska — chose to run track at the University of South Dakota.

Kautz left Norfolk Catholic as the all-time leading rusher in Nebraska 11-man state history (7,580 yards), and eventually attracted attention from college football programs.

Yes, including Nebraska — it offered him a walk-on opportunity.

“It just seemed right to do track, and I’m glad I made that decision,” said Kautz, who is already making impression at USD as a freshman.

In his first collegiate meet during this indoor track season, Kautz clocked a 6.83 in the 60-meter dash. That time ranks him second in the Summit League.

It’s only proven that his initial feeling during the recruiting process was spot on.

“USD was my first visit for track and it really stuck out,” Kautz said.

How so?

For starters, the opportunity to compete close to home was intriguing.

“When I came on my visit here, the whole team came and talked to me,” Kautz said. “I knew I’d get along with all of them.”

USD’s track record with developing athletes into conference champions and national meet qualifiers was also an attractive quality, he added.

“They’ve had a lot of successful people come through this program, and I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to keep getting faster and faster.”

Kautz and the Coyotes will compete at the Iowa State Classic on Friday and Saturday in Ames, and then two weeks later is the Summit League Indoor Championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

There’s still plenty of room for him to progress, Kautz said.

“My goal is to get faster each year and hopefully make nationals,” he said.

And along the way, he’ll likely to catch more people’s attention — those who weren’t familiar with his exploits in high school.

“That’s the goal,” Kautz said, with a smile.

As each day passes, he’s more and more happy that he decided on track, he added.

“I’m so glad I chose to run track,” Kautz said.

“I got to see both sides of football and track, and I believe I made the right decision.”

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