by Jason Anschutz, KDLT Sports
KDLT Sports Taco John's Athlete of the Week led Dakota State to its first conference title in 13 years and brought the Trojans to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships as well. As Jason Anschutz tells us, Tyler Van Peursem has gone the distance.
For four years, Tyler Van Peursem has been running for Dakota State University. He has put in countless hours, logged innumerable miles, yet he had never once won a race.
Trent Mack says, "I told him going into the race, as long as he kept his head in the race, I thought at the end of the race he could be there and give himself a chance."
At the DAC Conference meet, Van Peursem and the rest of the Trojans were striving for the team title, one that elude DSU for thirteen years. When the race was over though, not only his team taken home a conference championship, Van Peursem had won the individual title and was named conference MVP as well.
Van Peursem says, "I knew I had a chance. I didn't think it was that high of a shot for me, but I definitely went out to try and win it and it ended up happening."
Anthony Drealan says, "The kid never won a cross race until the conference meet, so if there was anybody that deserved to win it, it was him. He's put in tons of work, he's really disciplined, never misses a practice, that sort of deal. If I wanted any other kid to win other than me, it was him and I told him that and it was awesome to see him get that win."
The win would have been a great way to end his cross country career, but the senior had one more race. For the second straight year, Van Peursem headed to Nationals. In 2008 though it was as an individual. In 2009, it was with his team.
Mack says, "I'm extremely proud. You get pretty close to these guys, practicing twice a day, 6:30 in the morning. We spend a lot of weekends together. You get a lot of memories."
For Tyler Van Peursem, his big win, and another trip to nationals are memories he'll never forget.
Tyler isn't done running just yet for the Trojans. The track season is coming up, and Van Peursem already holds school records in the 800 meter and the 1500 meters. He finished seventh in the nation last year in the 1500 at the NAIA Outdoor Nationals.