At the 605 Running Company we are supportive of ALL runners. That includes the incredible athletes we have competing around the region in both Track and Field and Cross Country. This year we will be doing our best to get in touch with local and regional coaches at both the High School and Collegiate levels to keep our readers up to date on the programs in the 605. We were very thankful to recently catch up with University of Sioux Falls Head Coach Dough Petersen. Doug provided us with some great perspective on what the past year has looked like for college athletes and how COVID has impacted his program. Enjoy our interview!
Please give our readers a little historical perspective on your program. How has your team changed from last spring and fall to now?
The COVID Pandemic has had an effect on Track & Field / Cross Country at USF. With the NCAA Indoor Championships cancelled as well as the outdoor season, it took a while to fully grasp what was going on in the athletic world. Our Indoor National qualifiers were in Birmingham, AL for the Championships. We had practiced on Thursday morning and looking forward to the competition. At around 3:30 on Thursday afternoon we receive a text and tweet that the Championships have been cancelled along with the Outdoor Championships.
Students were moved to remote learning mode and did not return to campus after Spring Break. Our spring training schedule was modified due to the fact no one was on campus. The Coaching Staff worked hard to keep the athletes as focused as we could and encouraged progress moving forward with their training.
With students coming back on Campus in August the Coaching Staff and athletes faced many new challenges. Daily Health Screen checks, smaller training groups (Pods), getting used to wearing personal masks, and the uncertainty of being able to compete. Many questions with unknown answers. It was a challenging time for our athletes as well as our Coaching Staff.
What has the last year been like from a coaching perspective? How have you adapted your recruiting plans?
I certainly give our USF Track & Field Coaching Staff a lot of credit of maintaining positive attitudes and that carrying over to the athletes. Many ups and downs. Now with the Indoor season underway, it seems like a long time ago that we were trying to figure things out. We still have some of the challenges from earlier, but it makes things more worthwhile to be able to compete.
Weekly testing has been a norm for our team with 25% required to test each week. An occasional quarantine issue, but all manageable to be able to compete!
Recruiting has taken on a slightly different look. No home visits, more Zoom calls, no overnight stays, and changes on where we can meet with recruits and parents. Again, after a short time, it seemed like the normal.
Tell me about who your team leaders are and some of the things they’ve done to traverse the student-athlete life during a global pandemic.
On our women’s Track & Field team we have some returning National qualifiers. In the sprints is junior Kanya Henderson, hurdles is Jailah Brice-Moore, multis is Emily Olson, jumps is Taylor Stoltz, distance is Annika Aho & Tianna Wald, and throwing events is Emma Hertz.
For the men’s Track & Field team we have Nate Andrusick in the sprints, Ben Mandel in the Hurdles, Ethan Holm in the multis, jumps is Christian Riley, distance is Dave Ecker & Aaron Voigt, and throwing events is Patrick Hagan.
We have a Coo Leader group at USF made up of 8-10 athletes on our team that work hard to build team community and focus on our Christian Values at USF. We have broken the team into small groups with 8-10 athletes in each group to share with one another the challenges they face and help one another during this Pandemic.
What does your current and upcoming season look like?
We are a couple weeks into our Indoor schedule. One change is the availability of meets this indoor season. Our goal is to compete against only NCAA teams that follow the same COVID protocols. We must comply with each schools policies with testing and masking as well as social distancing.
Which athletes should we be on the lookout for in the upcoming season?
On the women’s team to watch we have some National qualifiers that will try to get back to Nationals again this year. A short list of athletes to watch would include Emma Hertz and Kayla Anderson in the throwing events, Kanya Henderson in the sprints, Jailah Brice-Moore in the hurdles, Emily Olson in the multi event, Natalie Meyers in the jumps, Taylor Stoltz in the high jump, Carolyn Brady in the pole vault, and Annika Aho and Lauren Wells in the distance races.
The men’s team have Nate Andrusick to watch in the sprints, Christian Riley in the jumps, Steven Miner in the high jump, Patrick Hagan in the throwing events, and Dave Ecker and Aaron Voigt in the distance events.
Tell us the best way to follow USF Track and Cross Country
You can USF Track & Field / Cross Country on Social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In your opinion how can the 605 Community support college athletics?
We love supporting the 605 Running Community when we help at the Sioux Falls Marathon and other races. It is great to see that returned by other people at our competitions and around town when we practice at the local parks and on the bike trails. Sioux Falls is a wonderful town and there is a great and knowledgeable fan base out there. Thanks for keeping things positive in these COVID days!
Finally, leave us with a positive message for all runners heading into 2021
I tell all the athletes to remember, these challenging days will get better and one or two years down the road we’ll look back on this and realize it wasn’t so bad, a momentary inconvenience. I challenge each athlete with what can you do today to make yourself better tomorrow? Be an encourager to others each day and find a positive in all you do and say! Trust in the plan God has for you!
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