Shroyer looks to lead DSU to success
The Dickinson State men's and women's cross country teams were caught in a bind this offseason. Former head coach Mike Nekuda resigned in May and it took the university until the end of July to name Ben Shroyer as the program's interim head coach...
The Dickinson State men’s and women’s cross country teams were caught in a bind this offseason.
Former head coach Mike Nekuda resigned in May and it took the university until the end of July to name Ben Shroyer as the program’s interim head coach.
Despite being a late hire and leaving a little more than a month to prepare for the season’s beginning, the opportunity was perfect for Shroyer to fulfill his coaching dreams.
“Since they didn’t officially hire anyone over the summer they asked me to do it over an interim basis and obviously I was going to accept that because this is a passion of mine, running and the sport of cross country,” said Shroyer, who is also the Biesiot Activities Center events coordinator. “I’m excited for the opportunity and maybe this can turn into a permanent title and position.”
Shroyer is a life-long runner who has collegiate experience and four marathons - including the Boston Marathon in 2009 - under his belt. Despite it being his first coaching position, his daily involvement in running helps him know how to go about training properly for the 5k and 8k, which were the same distances when he competed at Cedarville University (Ohio).
When Shroyer was named head coach, the team was relieved to have a familiar face in charge. When he could, Shroyer helped with the cross country teams during practices and has traveled with the team.
“It’s perfect,” sophomore Jonathan Aman said. “I always tell people when they ask ‘how do you feel about Ben Shroyer’ and I said I’d rather have him than anybody because he knows us better than a new coach would.
“He’s seen us in races and he’s seen me during workouts and we have better chemistry with him so I’m really confident having him. And he knows how to work me out better than a new coach would.”
Entering the 2014 season, the Blue Hawks are thin on the men and women’s side. Between graduation and transfers - sophomore runner Dante Carter transferred to Colorado State University-Pueblo - the men’s team just makes the cut to compete as a team with seven runners and the women failed to make team status with four eligible runners. Dustin Sandbak, who was a senior last year, is student coaching for the team.
Two key returners, sophomores Ashly George and Aman, missed a majority of their races last season due to injuries and look to help lead and make an impact on their respective teams.
“I was injured last season and got to run two meets so ... I have a point to prove this season,” George said. “I have a point to prove to myself and I felt like I never got to go out there … I want to go this year and I want to reach my potential.”
The other runners for the women are junior Margaret Martinez - who competed for DSU two years ago before a major car accident - sophomore Shayna Tonderum and freshman Austyn Copp. Lone senior Stormie Sickler is redshirting this season.
For the men, the Blue Hawks also return seniors Delano Lilly, Jeffrey Segovia and Eddie Meneses, who missed qualifying for nationals by one place last season.
“I expect him to be right there again this year,” Shroyer said about Meneses. “I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t qualify for the national meet.”
DSU also added Isaac Reiss, a former DSU football player, and freshmen Aidan Theard and Frayad Zeleke Gebrehana of Ethiopia. Shroyer expects Theard will make a major contribution to the team this season and beyond.
“He’s going to make an immediate impact. He’s one of those kids that just works hard, dedicated and really enjoys the sport and four years from now, he’s going to be a major player in the game,” Shroyer said.
The cross country season officially gets underway as the Blue Hawks travel to the Minnesota State Moorhead Randy Smith Invitational at 4 p.m. today. Though the season just got started, today is the first step in the long term goals for the runners, most of which are aiming high, qualify for the NAIA nationals.
“I wanna go to nationals this year, that’s my long term goal,” George said. “We’ll see how that goes and if I’ll get there or not. But I think if I keep giving it 135 percent in practice I’ll get there.”