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