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Ecklein was successful Trojan runner and is transportation success
September 30, 2012
MADISON, S.D. - "I am a giant John Ecklein fan," said Dakota State coach Buzz Stevenson. "John had an outstanding athletic career both in cross country and track here at DSU."
Stevenson had the pleasure of coaching and watching Ecklein, a 1996 McCook Central graduate, run his way to both All-Conference and NAIA All-American honors as a junior and a senior in both running sports.
"He always came to practice with a smile on his face and then worked hard every day," added Stevenson.
Today, Ecklein still finds time to visit the university's campus and with Stevenson even though he has a busy schedule as District Manager for Henry Industries, a transportation logistics corporation.
"Buzz is a straight-forward kind of coach," admitted Ecklein. "You know from the very beginning what he wants from you."
Ecklein came to DSU fresh from claiming the gold medals in both the 800 and 1600 as the top runner in all three classes in the 1996 State High School Track meet. (He holds McCook records in those events.) He also was a State 'A' cross country champions as a running Cougar.
"Gene Danielson, my high school coach, was a major influence in my career," he stressed. "He wanted every one of us to strive to be the best we could be."
When he got to Dakota State, Ecklein joined a salty group of veteran runners like then junior Brian Tvedt.
Tvedt figured into one of Stevenson's first coaching lessons to Ecklein.
"Before my first cross country race, Buzz told me to stay on Tvedt's shoulder," contributed Ecklein. "I did it and came out with an 11th-place finish. From then on, I figured out that I could keep up with and compete against veteran college runners after all, and that I could have a successful career."
Tvedt, now a sixth- and seventh-grade instructor for the Deuel School District, saw that Ecklein was a tough competitor.
"I was a junior when John came to DSU, and I knew about his state championship reputation when I guided him around the campus," said Tvedt. "I knew he had the potential to be a very good runner."
"He was a hard-working kid. Every day at practice was like a race for him – a race he wanted to win. His work ethic put him ahead of other runners. He never took a day off. Top that off with the fact that he was a great guy who was fun to be around all the time."
Individually, Ecklein holds the fourth- and fifth-place spots on the Trojans' all-time 800-meters' list at 1:52.31 and 1:52.56, while Tvedt is No. 5 in the 1500 (3:55.85).
Ecklein also ran with fellow All-American's Paul Seville and Shaun Fransen on Top Five relay teams. He was also part of Top Five 1600, sprint medley and 3200 relay teams which had Jed McNaughton, Ryan Raak, Todd Zirbel, Cory Lunn, David Greenman, Nick Kamps, Todd Schmidt and Adam Hansen on them.
Ecklein, 34 and single, is grateful for the classroom education he had at Dakota State.
"I was glad to have graduated with a computer science degree," concluded Ecklein who was recently in Las Vegas laying the groundwork for a future Henry Industries account. "While I am not directly dealing with computers, my college education has helped me in every job I've had since my years at DSU."
Dan Holsworth, Dakota State University Athletics Assistant
Edited by Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director