VERMILLION, S.D. — It was quite the year in more ways than one for Cedar Catholic alum Sara Reifenrath.
The former Lady Trojan was named the Rookie of the Year in all sports for the University of South Dakota following her strong showing in year one for the Coyotes in track and field.
The idea of winning such recognition is really starting to hit her, now.
“I was pretty surprised,” Reifenrath said. “I guess I just worked hard, and it paid off. I was just proud of myself. I know the work that I put in, so it was good to see that they recognized it like that. It was cool.”
Reifenrath was the second women’s track and field athlete to be named Rookie of the Year for USD.
She earned the Summit League’s Most Outstanding Performer honor at the outdoor championships, while also sweeping the New comer of the Championships both indoors and outdoors.
Reifenrath took home gold in the 200 meters, 400 meters and 4x400-meter relay at both the indoor and outdoor championships.
Reifenrath was one of 25 Coyote qualifiers for the NCAA West Preliminary as her season ended with her holding the school record in both indoors and outdoors for the 200 and 400-meter runs.
“I think if you told me last summer that this would have happened, I probably wouldn’t have believed you, especially with all the times that I have been running,” Reifenrath said. “It was probably better than I expected. I expected I would get better, just not this much better.”
But why did this truly happen? Why was she this successful?
“I feel like I didn’t do much more: I just listened, and my coaches put together a really good training plan,” Reifenrath said. “It challenged me, and it helped me recover better, so I don’t get injured. When you had hard days, you were able to put in the work.
“On my end, I was able to eat pretty good and get enough sleep. We made sure to warm up more and cool down more — way more than I did in high school, and that really seemed to help.”
Reifenrath stayed hyper focused on making sure she kept her body right and was able to avoid the training room because of that.
Now she hopes to do some more in her sophomore year.
“I’ll probably go up to Vermillion to do some training sessions, but right now I am just focusing on staying in shape,” Reifenrath said. “I am not pushing myself to get faster, but just staying in shape so when I get back, I won’t die immediately and can start working.
She is working at a bit slower pace right now because of the summer break.
“It’s a little bit of an offseason right now. I’m doing some strength stuff to get ready for the weight room,” she said.
For next year, she believes she will stick with the 200 and 400-meter runs and might help with the 4x800 relay – but they don’t have that too often in college.
“I don’t think I would do that in conference,” she said. “There is just not enough time. I might do some 100s and 60s every once in a while.”
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