Brookings native excels in cross country, track at SDSU

Eric Monson

Eric Monson

Becka Mansheim runs. She runs to compete, to maintain a 4.0 grade point average in nursing, to break records.

It is amazing that she pauses long enough to sleep. When Becka Mansheim steps out of bed, she steps into a pair of running shoes. She begins with an early morning workout run, then she runs to nursing class or clinicals and then it’s on to practice. After practice, she might pause long enough to catch the latest episode of “House,” her favorite TV program, before hitting the books. And that’s on a day off.

Other days, she competes at meets for SDSU’s cross country or indoor and outdoor track teams. While she is there, she might as well break a school record. Recently she broke the women’s indoor record in the mile run at a meet at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Head Track Coach Rod DeHaven said the Mansheim has “become one of the better distance runners in the region, regardless of division.”

It is difficult for Mansheim to stop and catch her breath. Not because she doesn’t stop running, but because Mansheim struggles with asthma. Yet she will not even let asthma slow her down.

“After high school, I found a doctor that really took me under his wing and we found the right combination of medications. Since then, I haven’t had a problem at a meet and I’ve had only a few problems at practice,” Mansheim said.

Being probationary members of Division I and without a conference, SDSU’s cross country and track teams have been unable to compete for any championships. Thus, Coach DeHaven has pushed his athletes to compete against themselves, the clock and past school records.

Mansheim said, “Breaking the indoor mile record is something that we were thinking of last year as being possible.”

Prior to the meet at Notre Dame, Mansheim got sick. It set her training back weeks, and she lost vital opportunities to break the record.

“Notre Dame was really my last chance to break the record, and running against that caliber of competition really helped me,” Mansheim said.

Next on the checklist of her collegiate career, Mansheim looks to break the women’s outdoor record in the 1500 meter run.

“We’re really going to try to break the 1500-meter record, but it’s going to be tough. The outdoor season is short and the weather really has to cooperate,” said Mansheim.

Coach DeHaven said, “We’d like her to get some fast times in the 1500 meters early so she can compete in some of these higher-level competitions and, hopefully, break the school record in the 1500 meters.”

Mansheim came to run at SDSU because of the university’s tradition of turning out great distance runners. However, for the Brookings native, that was not always her plan.

“When I was young, I thought I would never go to SDSU, but now I know it’s the best thing I could have ever done,” Mansheim said.

In high school, Mansheim participated in everything from swimming to cheerleading. She came to college as an under-trained runner. When she arrived at SDSU, she was able to focus on her running and realize her full potential.

For Coach DeHaven, Mansheim has blossomed into a competitive runner and one of the leaders of his women’s track team.

“She not only leads by example, but also encourages her teammates and always carries a positive attitude,” DeHaven said.

Mansheim is driven to succeed and unwilling to fail on and off the track.

“She’s a very well-rounded individual; a 4.0 student who’s never gotten less than a ‘A’ in her life. Becka has a lot going on besides running,” DeHaven said.

The impact running has made in Mansheim’s life displays itself more in her personality than it does in the record books and trophies on her walls.

“Running really teaches you to stay focused and it forces you to be self-motivated and know that there’s always more,” Mansheim said.

There is no doubt that there is more to be accomplished for Mansheim, and there is no doubt that she will succeed because she approaches life the same as she approaches the starting line before a race.

She said, “Every time I step on the line, I act like it’s my last time.”