THE NEXT LEVEL: No shortcuts for VanKeulen

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SDSU’s Grant VanKeulen (far right) breaks ahead of a pack during a race earlier this season. VanKeulen, a Marshall native, is in his senior season with the Jackrabbits.

MARSHALL – As a cross-country runner for the Tigers, 2012 Marshall High School graduate Grant VanKeulen learned early on that there is no easy way out in cross-country running if you want to be successful. It’s that same mindset that VanKeulen has kept with him through his time at South Dakota State.

“One thing that I took from Marshall which has helped me in my collegiate career is that in distance running there are no shortcuts,” VanKeulen said. “Mr. (Mike) Jacobs did an awesome job of drilling that into my head from the beginning. It’s a sport where you get out what you put in.”

Now a senior at SDSU, VanKeulen has put a lot of time into improving. After coming in as a freshman, hardly able to handle 40 to 50 miles per week of running, VanKeulen said he averages 75 to 80 miles per week this season and peaked at 90 miles.

“Mr. Jacobs urged that I get a good set of base miles in throughout the summer which would help me all fall,” VanKeulen added. “He was right. I wasn’t a believer in that in high school, but in college I have come to realize that much of the work is done long before the season starts.”

His work has been noticed by SDSU cross-country coach Rod DeHaven. DeHaven also noted that VanKeulen fought through early-season illness, but has rebounded.

“Grant has continually put in more work from year to year and has realized some nice gains because of that,” DeHaven said. “Some sickness early in the season set him back a bit and probably kept him from having a breakout season during cross country, but I am sure both he and I believe that he is capable of more.”

The higher volume of practice miles also is a help on race days. While high school races are typically 5 kilometers, VanKeulen is running 8Ks and 10Ks at SDSU. The longer distance, along with the increased competition, are two of the biggest changes he’s seen at the next level.

“Part of college means running against people that are as talented, if not considerably more talented, on a regular basis,” VanKeulen said. “This means that you need to be on the top of your game every time you perform, which takes some getting used to. Also, being able to handle an 8K or 10K race is much more exerting than a 5K was in high school.”

Today, part of his attention is in Northfield, as his brother, Chase, is running in his first state meet. The Class AA boys race begins at 11 a.m. at St. Olaf College.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Chase,” Grant VanKeulen said. “He set goals to make it to the state meet after track season and he really worked hard all summer and season to accomplish it. It’s been a treat to be able to look at the results seeing how well he has done this year and say, ‘wow, I didn’t run that fast on that course.'”

Chase VanKeulen is the only boys runner who qualified for Marshall. His seventh-place time of 16:51.6 at the Section 2AA Championship in Hutchinson clinched his spot.

“Qualifying as an individual is impressive, especially in Class AA,” Grant VanKeulen added. “He got a taste of the meet last year when Blaine (Moran) brought him along, but this year he gets to make his own mark. Chase is happy that he made it, but I think he’s far from satisfied. He wants to really cap the season with big race on the biggest stage in Minnesota.”

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