South Dakota cross country head coach Dan Fitzsimmons is pleased to announce the addition of Abdinasir Abdi, Brigit Blote, Katie Brust, Merga Gemeda, Alison Helder, Caleb Lusk, Miles Scott and Jacob Waymire to the fall roster.
These eight athletes join Haley Arens, Maddie Lavin and Maddy McClure, who signed last fall, as newcomers in 2018. All 11 athletes are from the Midwest with four South Dakotans, three Iowa natives, two Nebraskans and two Minnesota natives.
"Overall, I believe our freshmen class is going to give us added depth," said Fitzsimmons. "The strength of our women’s team a year ago was having 10 athletes fighting for a spot in the top seven. We would certainly like to have that again this year. Not only will we be as deep, we may be a little deeper when we include this freshmen class. On the men’s side, we believe some of these freshmen will be in our top five by season’s end."
A transfer from Iowa Central Community College, Abdinasir Abdi helped the Tritons capture the NJCAA Half-Marathon team title last fall. Abdi finished 17th in the race with a time of 1:14:51.9. On the track, Iowa Central defended its NJCAA Region XI title in 2018 with Abdi placing third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Abdi ran a leg of Westside High School’s runner-up 4x800-meter relay at the 2016 Nebraska Class A Track & Field Championships. He also raced in the open 800 meters at the meet. Abdi holds personal bests of 16:47 for 5,000 meters on the cross country course, 4:32 in the 1,600 meters and 9:51 in the 3,200 meters. He plans to major in business at USD.
A member of four St. Thomas More team titles at the South Dakota Class A Track and Field Championships, Brigit Blote led off the Cavalier’s 4x800 championship relay in 2017. The relay clocked 9:29.37 to earn gold. She also placed eighth in the open 800 last season and helped the Cavalier’s distance medley relay to a Howard Wood Dakota Relays title. On the cross country course, Blote placed 24th in 20:35.61 at her senior state championship meet. She holds personal bests of 2:23.60 for the 800 meters and 5:35.34 for 1,600 meters. Blote is a member of eight student organizations at St. Thomas More, including National Honor Society and student council. Blote plans to major in medical biology at USD.
Katie Brust is a four-time Big 9 Conference MVP with 11 all-conference honors. She ran a leg of Northfield’s runner-up 4x400-meter relay at the 2017 Minnesota Track and Field Championships and helped the relay capture gold at the Big 9 Conference meet. Brust helped Northfield capture a Big 9 Conference title as a senior and finish runner-up at the section meet. She holds personal bests of 2:17 for 800 meters, 5:26 for 1,600 meters and 18:54 for 5,000 meters on the cross country course. Her 5,000-meter time is a Northfield High School record. Brust is also an all-state alpine skier for Northfield High School. She finished fifth at the Minnesota state meet. A four-time academic all-state athlete, two-time academic letterwinner and recipient of the National Scholastic Art Award, Brust plans to double-major in biology and studio art at USD.
The 2017 individual champion at the Missouri River Athletic Conference and the Sioux City meets, Merga Gemeda went on to place fifth at the 2017 Iowa Class 4A Cross Country Championships. Gemeda clocked a time of 15:47.2 at the state meet. He posted his personal best of 15:25.26 at the 2017 Nike Heartland Regional with a 17th-place finish. Gemeda also holds bests of 4:22.24 for 1,600 meters and 9:28.83 for 3,200 meters. He also played soccer for the North Stars and was a member of student council. Gemeda plans to major in computer science at USD.
Alison Helder graduated with her 5,000-meter time of 25:20.8 ranked in the top-10 in Saint Peter High School history. During her senior year, Helder posted a season best of 26:47.4 at the Minnesota High School Section 2A Championships. She also played ice hockey for the Saints. Helder plans to major in kinesiology and sport management at USD.
Caleb Lusk medaled in a pair of relays at the 2017 South Dakota Class AA Track and Field Championships with T.F. Riggs High School. He took 25th at the 2016 South Dakota Cross Country Championships and 27th as a senior in 2017. Lusk is a two-time all-Eastern South Dakota conference honoree in cross country. He helped the Governors capture an ESD title in cross country in 2015. Lusk holds personal bests of 4:38 for 1,600 meters, 10:22 for 3,200 meters and 16:39 for 5,000 meters on the cross country course. Lusk earned academic all-state honors for cross country last fall. He’s a National Honor Society member, the T.F. Riggs senior class president and 2017 South Dakota Boys State attendee. Lusk plans to major in kinesiology and sport management while on the pre-physical therapy track.
A four-time qualifier for the Iowa Class 3A Cross Country Championships, Miles Scott posted a top finish of third place as a junior in 2016. He took fifth in the race as a senior. Scott finished runner-up at the Missouri River Athletic Conference cross country meet his senior year with a personal best of 15:47. On the track, Miles took fifth in the 3,200 meters at the state meet last spring with a personal best of 9:44.69. He also recorded a personal best of 4:33.62 for 1,600 meters at the 2017 state meet. A member of the National Honor Society and recipient of the Presidential Award for Educational Excellence, Scott will be on the pre-nursing track at USD.
A three-sport letter-winner at Dallas Center-Grimes High School, Jacob Waymire was a member of the Mustangs’ runner-up team at the 2017 Iowa Class 3A Cross Country Championships. He finished 48th in 17:01.8. Waymire holds personal bests of 4:34 for 1,600 meters and 10:00 for 3,2000 meters on the track. He also played basketball for the Mustangs.