Photo by Hillary Ehlen
Sophomore distance runner Kelby Anderson has shined brightly in her short time in Fargo.
When making the transition from high school to collegiate competition, there are sure to be some growing pains in some respects. Regardless of the student-athlete, it’s a brand new level of competition, one that is far greater than high school athletics. As an incoming freshman, that can be intimidating at times, the pressure to perform in the field of competition and, more importantly, in the classroom. Most can overcome those snags and thrive, but it can take some time.
Kelby Anderson has seemingly dodged all of those snags. She came to Fargo last year not knowing what to expect as a distance runner in cross country and track & field. Needless to say, she became a force to be reckoned with almost immediately. Anderson has continued to dominate in her sophomore season as indoor track season is in a fever pitch.
“I think that a lot of it has to do with our training,” Anderson said about her success so far at NDSU. “I feel like I’m doing a lot more miles and a lot more deliberate miles than I did in high school. That has to do with me growing as an athlete and I think part of it is I’m so close with my teammates. It makes going to practice easier, and it’s easier to work hard when you’re motivated by your teammates.”
Anderson is a graduate of Bismarck Century High School, a hotbed for successful Bison athletes in the past. As a senior for the Patriots, she was the state’s runner-up in the 1600m and 3200m run. She immediately translated that prowess for the podium to her time at NDSU last season. Throughout her freshman season, Anderson was the top Bison finisher in five of her six races in cross country. This included a third-place finish at the Summit League Championships. She was named the Summit League Newcomer of the Championships after that performance. Anderson was a first-team All-Summit League selection at season’s end, too. Among her top finishes were a victory at UND’s Ron Pynn Classic and a runner-up finish at the Bison Open, her first collegiate race.
Thanks to her performances throughout her freshman season, Anderson was named NDSU’s Female Rookie of the Year across all sports. However, she was not done there.
This season, Anderson was the Bison’s top finisher in every single race. She also did not finish below fourth in any regular season race. Anderson won the Bison Open and defended her Ron Pynn Classic title as well. Perhaps most impressive was Anderson’s postseason results. She was the runner-up at the Summit League Championships and finished ninth out of more than 230 runners at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Her 20:42.6 was the sixth fastest 6K in school history. Her postseason accolades included being named AllRegion by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
So, with all of that success in only two seasons, where does Kelby Anderson go from here? Surely, improvement is no small task, and neither is setting goals for the track season, as well as her two remaining cross country seasons. “I think just continuing to work hard in practice and I know that in practice, we always talk about doing the little things,” Anderson said about improvement. “Making sure you’re always doing your core, rolling out, doing all your rehab stuff. I think that’s a big part of continuing to grow.”
However, Anderson and the distance girls do train differently as they transition from cross country season to track time. While it is subtle in thought, it is not as simple in practice. “When we train for cross country, we do our faster stuff on grass surfaces because that’s what we’re racing on,” Anderson said. She ran in three indoor meets last season and redshirted the outdoor season. She won the 1500m at the NDSU Tune-Up last season as an unattached redshirt. “We do longer repeats because our races are generally longer. Then in track, we generally run our faster stuff on the indoor and outdoor track. We usually do more strides during track season.
“It just felt like home and everything kind of clicked, the coaches were very nice, all the people I talked to were super nice. It just felt like a good place where I wanted to spend four years.” – Kelby Anderson
For Anderson, and all track & field or cross country athletes, it can become challenging to balance academics. The NDSU track team is immersed in their sport for nine, sometimes 10 months out of the year. While it can become hard to strike a balance in your first few years in college, Anderson has seemed to find it already. Many will not find that surprising, though. “I think it’s super important to stay organized. I have to write everything in a planner and just kind of stay ahead of things because that makes it so much easier when you know what you need to get done before you leave,” she said. Anderson is a nursing major at North Dakota State. “It also helps that my roommate is also in nursing, so she helps me if I forget something, so that’s cool in that aspect. Definitely staying organized and staying on top of stuff.”
The Bismarck native was named to the All-Summit League Academic Team at the end of this most recent cross country season.
While Anderson is a North Dakota native, she had no idea the kind of atmosphere NDSU had. When she visited the school in her recruitment, she was immediately hooked on Fargo. “On my recruiting visit, one of the girls took me to a dorm of other teammates. For some reason, it just kind of felt like home,” she said. “That’s kind of the reason I came here: it just felt like home and everything kind of clicked, the coaches were very nice all the people I talked to were super nice. It just felt like a good place where I wanted to spend four years.”
It also helps that NDSU’s track & field and cross country programs have been dominant since their inception. The Bison women are still on a monumental run of Summit League track dominance. They have won 22 straight conference championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons. Anderson quantifies how that tradition is upheld fairly simply. “I would say dedication because I feel like we’re all dedicated to school, we’re all dedicated to our sport, we all come to practice and work hard even if it’s outside and negative degree weather to run. We all just do our part and we’re a team in that aspect,” she said.
There is no question that Kelby Anderson is dedicated. It has shown through with her results in two short years in Fargo. With her success so far, it’s not too crazy to assume that she will be a national force next year and beyond. Kelby Anderson will continue to set the pace and expectation for Bison cross country and track & field.