Syverson takes the reigns for UWRF cross country team
March 1, 2007
Keven Syverson has been named the head men’s and women’s cross country coach at UW-River Falls. He also coaches the men’s and women’s middle and long distance runners on the UWRF track and field team.
Syverson takes over for Don Glover, who resigned this off-season after six seasons coaching the cross country team.
Many of the track and field short and long distance runners are also members of the cross country team so they are already familiar with Syverson, making for a much easier transition between coaches.
Athletic Director Rick Bowen said he has wanted to merge the two coaching responsibilities for some time and he has finally gotten the opportunity to do so.
“It just made sense to make the distance track and field coach the cross country coach,” Bowen said. “They have many similarities in regimen and training so it’s a natural fit.”
The merging of coaching duties should help the runners who participate in both sports because they won’t have to switch back and forth between different coaching philosophies.
Justin Youngblom, a member of both the cross country and track and field teams, said he sees a lot of positives in having one coach for both sports.
“I think that the transition will go smoothly since Syverson has been the distance track coach for a few years now,” Youngblom said. “Having the same coach I believe will make better runners because you are training on the same program all year around.”
The move should also help in recruiting athletes because it allows one coach to do all the recruiting for both sports.
Syverson said he is encouraged by what he sees on the team already and credits Glover with leaving behind a solid group for him.
“I am very excited for the opportunity and challenge,” Syverson said. “Coach Glover did a good job leaving the program in good shape.”
The team will return a solid group of both men and women runners next season. The women are led by All-American Becca Jordahl, who is only the second woman in UWRF history to qualify for the NCAA cross country championship, where she finished 19th in the nation.
Bowen said he would like to see the cross-country team increase it’s recruiting and eventually be a team that finishes near the top of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).
“Glover set us on a good path and I’m hoping Keven can take us to the next level,” Bowen said.
Syverson said be hopes to build a strong overall team with strengths at every spot. To be successful as a team in cross-country, there needs to be an even distribution of talent across the board.
“A strong team needs a good balance of short and long distance runners along with runners who have a good balance of speed and strength,” Syverson said.
Syverson said there is always a transition period when a new coach takes over a program, but he is ready for it.
“I think there is always a learning curve when a new coach incorporates their philosophy,” Syverson said. “It takes over a year to get a feel for the program, especially the administrative part.”
Syverson will now perform double coaching duty, along with being the health education coordinator at UWRF and a father of three, making for a very demanding schedule. He lives in River Falls with his wife Jennifer and children, Alaina, Jared and Erin.
Because of the time commitment involved in the decision, his family played a big role in deciding whether he would accept the position.
“I had to have the support of my family to make it all possible,” Syverson said.
Syverson is very familiar with both the sport of running and UWRF. He is a former UWRF All-American and has been running for over 20 years.
He was a member of the cross country and track and field teams from 1990-94. He was a three-year captain in both cross-country and track and field. In 1991 Syverson was named the Most Valuable Runner in track and field. In 1992 he achieved the same honor on both the cross country and track and field teams. He currently holds six Falcons records. Syverson was inducted into the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
While Syverson was a soldier in Germany in the late 1980s during the end of the Cold War era, he had the opportunity to compete with a German running club. He also had the opportunity to run with several national caliber masters level runners when he was living in Portland, Ore.
“Those were great learning experiences for me and have given me great foundation for the sport of running,” Syverson said.
Bowen said he is hoping that as the cross country team improves, so too will the track and field team. He said he is confident that Syverson can handle the demanding workload and be the coach to lead the team to the upper echelon of the WIAC.
“I don’t know if I can get a better person with more experience and a passion for running,” Bowen said. “It should be a perfect marriage.”