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Midgets' Yoder signs to run at Augustana

After a stellar high school career complete with four all-state performances, Elizabeth Yoder's career as a runner is not yet over. On Wednesday in Dickinson High's main gymnasium, the senior signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross countr...

Dickinson High senior Elizabeth Yoder sits with cross country head coach Greg Jung on Wednesday after signing her National Letter of Intent to run cross country at Augustana (S.D.) University. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High senior Elizabeth Yoder sits with cross country head coach Greg Jung on Wednesday after signing her National Letter of Intent to run cross country at Augustana (S.D.) University. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

After a stellar high school career complete with four all-state performances, Elizabeth Yoder's career as a runner is not yet over.

On Wednesday in Dickinson High's main gymnasium, the senior signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country for NCAA Division II Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.

"There were definitely goals I set for myself that I didn't achieve, but I also made a lot of relationships I wouldn't have had without (cross country)," Yoder said. "I think that goes beyond anything I could have done athletically. I've learned a lot of valuable life skills. I think I learned from cross country that there are more important things than just running."

Still, the sport is very close to her heart, and that doesn't figure to change as she moves forward.

"I've grown to know that it's not the only thing I have and it doesn't define me," she said, "but it's also something I always fall back on, something I always have. It's something I'm really passionate about and love doing, and I've been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who support me in that passion."

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Yoder, who placed eighth among Class A girls at the state meet this season, said she fell in love with Augustana because of the people on the team and around campus.

The school will also allow her to continue studies of faith. She said she wants to double-major in religion and psychology with the hopes of eventually getting a master's degree in divinity so that she can become a pastor.

Yoder said she wouldn't be in the position to run in college without Dickinson High head coach Greg Jung's influence. Whether it was daily texts of encouragement or games of Words With Friends, Yoder said that coach-runner relationship has been invaluable.

"It's incredible what he's done for me. There have been times at practice where I might be struggling," she said. "Especially during my junior year because I was still recovering from my (foot) stress fracture and I wasn't competing the way I wanted. He'd pull me aside and say, 'It's OK, there's more than this, and you're more than this, and you're still going to do great things.' I've been really blessed to have him as a coach."

Jung has long been in Yoder's corner with a strong belief in her abilities and work ethic.

"I think she's going to really blossom into the best runner that she can be in college," he said. "I think her better days are ahead of her, for sure."

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