Former Jays coming back to Jamestown, going West for the summer
Meghan Ford, Ben Anteau and Micah Hoke, all former runners for Jamestown High School, recently completed their first year of collegiate running.
Everyone knew that after graduation Meghan Ford was going to go on to run competitively in college.
But no one — including the five-time state track and field champ and three-time state cross-country champ — knew what the transition from the North Dakota prep scene to an NCAA Division I university would be like.
"Collegiate running is definitely much more serious than high school is," Ford said. "I did enjoy high school cross country and track because some people were just there to have fun and nothing else, so it was much more relaxed."
Ford is one of five 2021 Jamestown High School graduates who went on to run competitively at the collegiate level. Ten months after leaving for campus, Ford, along with her former teammates Ben Anteau and Micah Hoke, successfully wrapped up one whole school year of competing at the next level.
Anteau was running for South Dakota State University while Hoke stayed local and attended the University of Jamestown.
"When I first got to campus, I was definitely excited more than anything to start college," Ford said. "The transition was a bit rough for me as Furman is very rigorous academically and the training was a lot more than I did in high school.
"The fact that I hadn’t ever visited campus until move-in day kind of added to that stress. But I knew the team and coaches would be very welcoming and knowing I already had friends to talk with and ask questions to was very comforting."
Ford said she was very nervous about the first workout with the team but added that it went well and she was happy to be training with that particular group of girls.
"Everyone is very supportive of each other," Ford said. "Our coach always encourages us to uplift others during workouts when we feel good and if we are having a bad day we should let our teammates know so they can do the same for us.
"We always stay in our training groups regardless so it’s always nice knowing there are always people surrounding and encouraging you no matter how you feel."
Ford said the academic and athletic balance was a huge struggle for her going into the first semester and that was reflected in her performances during the fall cross-country season.
Ford's best collegiate 5K race came at the Furman Invitational on Sept. 11 when she crossed the finish line with a time of 17 minutes, 11 seconds.
Ford's 5K PR in high school was 17:07.
Her background of running in the colder weather could potentially explain Ford's best 6K-race that came at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invite on Oct. 15, 2021, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Ford finished the course with a PR of 21 minutes, 44 seconds. The one other 6K she ran on Sept. 17, 2021, Ford crossed the line at 21:55.
"A lot of my goals after cross-country were process-oriented just because I had a pretty rough start to collegiate running and needed to start small again to get my feet back underneath me," Ford said.
"I was focusing more on how I felt day to day and race by race rather than a time or place. That definitely helped me become a lot more confident throughout indoor track. It took the pressure off me as well."
Ford set a new PR for herself in the mile at the Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship on Feb. 26-27. The Blue Jay alum finished fourth in a time of 4:57.07. She also got a personal best in the 3000, crossing the line at 9:50.66.
Ford said she did start setting some goals for outdoor but ended up red-shirting outdoor because she got a stress fracture as the indoor season ended. The soon-to-be college sophomore did run a time trial this spring after the stress fracture healed and set some mini goals, which she thought she executed well.
"While training during my redshirt outdoor season, I think I made a big jump, and I’m hoping to continue to build my base this summer so I can be ready to train hard this cross country season," Ford said.
Ford said her team usually keeps its training schedule pretty similar between cross-country and track — but during the track season, Ford said the squad usually does more speed workouts and does faster reps at the end of most workouts to get legs to turn over.
Since Ford had planned on doing steeplechase in track as well, she also had steeple practice where the athletes would do drills over the hurdles.
"I didn’t have a favorite workout necessarily, but my favorite location was at the Farms we call it," Ford said. "It's gorgeous there, especially at sunrise since we run early in the fall before it gets too warm outside. We would usually do mile reps or long threshold work there, which are also the type of workouts I enjoy most."
Ford will be traveling to Boulder, Colorado, this summer. Last year Ford went out West for a little less than a month but this year she will be up there almost until the fall semester gets going. Ford will be able to continue to train while she works at the internship she got with a physical therapy clinic.
Looking at next year, Ford is only planning on getting better — athletically and academically.
"I will be running cross-country again and working to get our team to the NCAA championships on a really tough course later this fall," Ford said. "I will also be taking some more classes geared toward exercise science and now German since I decided to double major in those.
"I really do enjoy the busyness of college athletics and school now, too."
Anteau, Hoke running for Jacks and Jimmies
Anteau took a beating after his first couple of workouts with the Jackrabbits.
"The first workout we had was a pretty tough hill workout," Anteau said. "Everyone was sort of figuring out their place on the team so people were pushing pretty hard. I felt pretty beat up afterward along with the next few after that but it always takes time to transition into a new coach's training and workouts."
As a Blue Jay, Anteau earned cross-country first-team, all-state honors in 2019 and 2020. The primo distance runner was named all-state for his efforts in both the 1600 and 3200 meters at the 2021 State Track and Field Meet.
The former Blue Jay was crowned region champion in the two-mile his senior track and field season. At his final prep meet, Anteau placed third in the 3200 with a time that ranked as high as third all-time in the state when it was recorded. The 3200-meter mark now sits sixth all-time in North Dakota track and field.
Anteau said the training transition definitely took time for him, adding that he didn’t really feel like he got his feet under him and fully recovered from workouts until the end of the indoor track season.
"My cross-country and indoor seasons didn’t meet those goals, but things started clicking in outdoor track," Anteau said. "It seems like everyone has a time when things start to click with a new coach. There are a lot of variables that play into when you get adjusted and start getting large benefits."
The training regimens must have worked as Anteau said he's gotten a lot stronger as a runner both fitness-wise and more capable to adapt to training and improve off of it.
Anteau said he likes the style of workouts with a lot of tempo volume and getting to close off sessions with a few faster shorter reps. The SDSU freshman said his cross-country and track and field training looked relatively similar, but the biggest difference was transitioning to indoor training once inclement weather hit the prairies.
"I managed to close out my season by placing well at conference, which has gotten my ambition revamped going into the summer of training," Anteau said.
"This next year the plan is to get a good solid summer training and try to do as much for the team as I can at the conference and regional meets. The eyes are always set on making nationals as a team in cross, and we have enough talent on the team to do it but we just need to keep everyone healthy and be fit when October rolls around."
Some of Anteau's summer miles may be logged with Hoke.
"I plan on putting in a lot of miles for the summer," Hoke said. "I'm staying in Jamestown and I plan on running with my high school classmates, Ben and Gavin, this summer and also with my current teammates who are in the area as well."
Hoke said moving to UJ was not the biggest change for him.
"The hardest transition was the difference in training for sure. In high school, we were training for a 5K but in college, it’s an 8K so workouts were longer and faster and it was a tough adjustment for me but it was cool to see myself improve through it," Hoke said. "It was also hard to go to practice without seeing my best friends there every day. I missed running with those guys but my new teammates kept my head up and are also great."
For cross-country, Hoke said he had never run an 8K prior to becoming a Jimmie.
"I didn’t know what to expect," Hoke said. "I based my goal on my best 5k time from high school and calculated it to roughly a 30-minute run. I ended up getting my goal in the first 8k I ran so I wish I would’ve stridden for a higher goal there."
In track Hoke said he focused more on the 800 meter run which meant he participated in more workouts that were more focused on increasing speed rather than endurance like the cross-country workouts.
"Some workouts are harder than the ones in cross-country because you have to hold a very fast speed for a time rather than a moderate pace in the cross-country workouts," Hoke said.
During the indoor track and field season, Hoke met his goal of running a 2:03, 800. While Hoke missed his outdoor goal by a few seconds, he said overall his first collegiate season left him better off than he was midway through 2021.
Hoke said he saw immediate improvements in track and field, dropping fast splits for workouts and races and obtaining personal bests in almost every race he ran this year.
Hoke is planning on running cross-country again this fall and hopes that he will be even stronger of a runner by the time the fall season wraps up.
"I have gotten a lot better I think," Hoke said. "My 5k split in my 8k races would’ve been an average time for me in high school and the fact that I had another three kilometers that I ran at the same pace after that split — just blew my mind.
"I'm using that as more motivation for the summer to get better and so there will be no doubt that I’ll reach (my goals) next year."