By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- In the sport of cross country, athletes log a lot of miles. They run great distances in as short amount of time possible.
For South Dakota School of Mines senior Rob Hahn, the running has taken him through a stellar final season as a Hardrocker harrier and it will conclude this weekend when he competes in the NAIA National Cross Country Championships in Kenosha, Wis.
The Metallurgical Engineering major from Sioux Falls, S.D., qualified for the NAIA meet after his performance at the Region III meet two weeks ago in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he clocked a time of 26 minutes 11 seconds – which earned him 15th place in the race and was the best ever time Hahn has recorded in his cross country career.
“He’s really come around and is doing a tremendous job,” said Hardrocker cross country coach Jerry Schafer of his only national qualifier this season. “This is the second year (Hahn) has ran college cross country. He’s a fifth year senior but he is very young at college cross country. We are very please with how far he’s come in two years and we expect him to do well.”
By comparing Hahn’s time with the rest of the field this year as well as past races, Schafer is hoping Hahn will finish in the top half of the 8-kilometer race, which has over 230 runners in the field.
“We are anticipating that if Rob can equal the time he ran in Sioux Falls, which was 26:11, he should finish in the Top 75 --- with the Top 30 in his sights (All American).”
Breaching the Top 30 is a definite possibility. Schafer said he figured that the fastest times would be between 25:30 and 26:00, meaning Hahn would have to shave just 11 seconds off his career best time this weekend to have a shot at being an All American.
“The All American (status) is out there, but it will be hard to obtain,” Schafer added.
Also to consider is the course in Kenosha. The course has been designed to represent all types of terrain different runners have raced on throughout the season.
“It will certainly be more of challenge then the region course which was pancake flat,” Schafer said. “It won’t be as tough a course as Black Hills State’s course. It’s more similar to our course with the varying terrain. It’s a course you can run fast on, but it’s also challenging.
“Rob is a middle distance runner. The flat course may have favored him more at the region meet. But Rob has proven he can run fast on courses with different terrains as well.”
The last time South Dakota Mines was represented at the National Meet was in 2001 by cross country standout Jason Arp. Arp’s best time at the National Meet was in 1999 when he clocked a 26:03 to give him 60th place.
For Hahn, he has passed all the expectations put on him this year. And now that the journey is reaching it’s end he may just do that again. He may not know exactly how many miles he has run this season, but at least it has taken him somewhere.
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