University of South Dakota distance runner Jeff Mettler ended his junior year with the Coyotes impressively, earning the Summit League male athlete of the year award.
The Eureka native runs on the cross country team and the indoor and outdoor track teams and has quickly acquired a long list of honors. The past year began with a second-place finish at the league cross country meet, followed by earning victories in the mile and 3,000 meters and also a third in the
5,000 — for the Summit champion Coyote men¹s indoor track team. He also won the conference steeplechase and qualified for the West Region Preliminaries in that event during the outdoor season.
He has a 4.0 GPA in kinesiology and sports science, with a minor in Spanish.
He took a break from training and working at the CATZ Sports Performance Center in Pasadena, Calif., — his summer job — on Tuesday afternoon to talk with the Argus Leader.
Q. What did winning this award mean to you?
A. It was really exciting and it meant a lot I put a big emphasis on academics in my life, as well as athletics, so I was honored to win it.
There are so many good athletes in the Summit who are also good students. To be singled out among them is pretty special.
Q. The obvious issue here is time management. Some people probably don¹t realize it but distance runners are essentially three-sport athletes with cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. How do you keep it all together?
A. It can be difficult at times. There are times when you really have to buckle down and make the decision to put your academics first rather than putting it off. It¹s really easy to focus on athletics and have that at the forefront of your life all the time, but you can¹t give in to that.² Q. You¹re obviously very dedicated but there still must be times when you really feel like you don¹t want to run and other times when you feel like you don¹t want to study how do you combat that?
A. Well, one thing that helps is that you never want to let your teammates down. The other thing is that I think distance running goes hand-in-hand with being a good student. With running, you have to put the work in you can¹t take days off. So in that way the two things complement each other pretty well.² Q. Is it possible to multi-task? Can you be reviewing your schoolwork in your head while you¹re running?
A. For one thing, I¹m able to plan out the day in my head when I¹m running.
It gives you some time to figure out how you¹re going to break it up what you¹re going to do when. Obviously, it depends on the class, but I also go over my vocabulary for my Spanish classes in my head when I¹m running.
Q. You landed a prestigious internship this summer with the CATZ Performance Center in southern California this summer. How is that going?
A. I¹ve been getting exposure to everything they do here, from workout sessions to biomechanical lab work. I¹ve been involved in so many aspects of this field that interest me. I can¹t believe how much I¹ve learned in the last three weeks. When you¹re in a classroom setting you think you¹re interested in a career but until you get into a real life situation, you really don¹t know for sure. The experience has been very encouraging.
Q. You were part of some good track teams in Eureka. You¹re a long way from there now, but what did you take from your high school experience?
A. It was a very good way to start things off. I had a great experience in Eureka and I¹m very appreciative of all my coaches and all the faculty there. They really set me up well to succeed in both academics and athletics.
Q. You have one year left at USD. How is this experience going for you?
A. I had a good year, I was happy for the most part with the way things went, but I still have a lot more I want to do. The outdoor track season was a little disappointing for me, but that is going to motivate me to get better. Overall, it¹s been fantastic here. I¹m so appreciative for what the coaches have done for me. It¹s been a perfect fit.