Young 'Rocker runners gain experience in 2013
Release Date Friday, November 22, 2013

RAPID CITY - -The South Dakota School of Mines cross country programs crossed the finish-line and ended the season during the south central region cross country championships in Canyon, Texas, in early November.

“We were a lot younger than we had anticipated with over half of our women’s and men’s teams being freshmen and sophomores,” said Hardrocker cross country head coach Jerry Schafer. “Relying on freshmen and sophomores to score points, like any sport, is very difficult. There is a learning curve each athlete undergoes in the transition from high school to collegiate athletics.”

The transition for high school cross country runners to Div. II is grueling.  The race distances are greater and the volume of training at the college level is significantly more miles than at the high school level. A typical high school runner will train at 30-35 miles a week whereas a SD Mines runner gets in 60-65 miles a week.

“There was a tremendous learning curve embraced by our team that we will take into our spring training and in the fall of 2014 as we keep improving. What we accomplished in the fall we are going to build on for next year,” Schafer said.  

A turning point for the Hardrocker cross country team came during the MSU-Billings Invitational. The race demonstrated the team’s understanding of how to run as a pack and recorded the best times overall as a team. Cross country is a team sport compiled of individual athletes. To be a successful team the individual runners must learn how to race together.

“Both teams came along as a group throughout the season. About the middle of October, both programs figured out what it means to run as a pack,” Schafer said. “The team’s lowest pack times for the women were under 40 seconds and on the men’s side just overa minute. These times were recorded in our last two meets leading up to the regional meet.”

The impact runner on the women’s side was junior Brittanee Wood.

“Brittanee was the top runner for us this year at the regional meet, and throughout the year she ran in the Top 2 or Top 3.  She stepped up and was a great leader for our women’s program,” Schafer said.

More impact runners for the Hardrockers’ were: freshmen Maggie Vinton, Sharla Maginnis, Therese Frels and Kassidy Knutson. Vinton and Maginnis had standout freshmen years and were very solid runners while out performing what was expected in their first year. Frels and Knutson also ran very solid first years as competitive contributors to the team.

On the men’s side, junior Tyler Nack separated himself as a solid No. 1 runner.

“Tyler was our top runner at the regional meet and throughout the regular season as expected,” Schafer said.

Other standout runners were: sophomore Justin Slattery, and freshmen Ryan Wright, Kevin Noto, Sam Patzer and Grant Cameron. Slattery improved his performance from last year and did a nice job as a steady runner for the Hardrockers. Wright stepped up mid-way through the season making him a competitive contributor to the pack. Patzer ran strong all year. Noto and Cameron both had solid freshmen years as well.

The team missed junior Travis Buse, who was the No. 2 runner in 2012. Buse took advantage of a co-op for a semester in Golden, Colo. He is a chemical engineering major from Lennox, SD.



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