At 23, Austin's David Fuentes is still pretty much a rookie when it comes to distance running. But he's got his sights set on an Olympic trials qualifier in either the marathon or half marathon.

Fuentes showed promise as a cross country runner for Boerne High School. As a junior, he helped his team win its first state championship, in 2003. Boerne repeated as champion in 2004.

Fuentes went to St. Edward's University and joined the cross country team as a walk-on. In reality, he was walking into a program that St. Edward's was planning to eliminate.

By his junior year, there was no coach. Rather than quit, Fuentes and one of his teammates helped plan the team's workouts. The university dropped cross country when Fuentes was a senior, but he had already been named an All-American in Division II cross country.

After graduating in 2008, he took a job as an information technology analyst for the city of Hutto, and aligned himself with coach and exercise physiologist Derick Williamson. In Fuentes, Williamson saw raw talent and considerable potential: "There's competitiveness in him that you can't teach or train into someone. I can see how bad he wants to be the best, and I think that shows in how he trains and races."

Fuentes, competing for Team Mizuno, won the Austin Half Marathon this year in 1:08:08. In April he took third in the Go! St. Louis Half-Marathon, lowering his time to 1:06:59. At the Schlotzsky's Bun Run a few weeks later, Fuentes knocked out a personal best for the 5K, posting 14:47 for second place behind fellow Mizuno runner Keith Pierce.

Williamson and Fuentes are looking at Olympic trial qualifying times, which means running under 1:05 for the half, or 2:19 or better for the full marathon. Fuentes plans to run the Spirit of Columbus (Ohio) Half Marathon in late August, testing his fitness for the Chicago Marathon in October.

The Chicago Marathon is run over a USA Track and Field certified course, so runners who finish in 2:19 or better qualify for the Olympic trials, January 2012 in Houston. "With Chicago being Dave's first marathon, the big goal is to get through this first training cycle healthy and ready to race in October," Williamson said. "We don't want to sacrifice his ultimate potential by being greedy and pushing too hard this first time around."

Said Fuentes, "I'm sure I'll feel more confident once I get in some 20-plus mile workouts."

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Upcoming races

Wednesday: Sunstroke Summer Stampede Race #7, 7 p.m. at Brushy Creek Trail, Cedar Park. See www.summerstampede.com.

Saturday: Keep Austin Weird 5K, 7 p.m. at the South First Street Bridge. See www.keepaustinweirdfest.com.

Saturday: Twilight 5K, 7 p.m. at the Hill Country Galleria. See www.redlicoriceevents.com.