Rod DeHaven comes full circle

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

South Dakota State University’s motto, “You can go anywhere from here,” isn’t just a motto, it’s the truth. Alumnus and new cross country and track and field head coach Rod DeHaven has gone far in his running career, but has returned to SDSU to help others achieve greatness.

DeHaven was born in Sacramento, Calif., and moved to South Dakota with his mother when he was 4-years-old. Six years later he began running in the Jackrabbit 15 road race. His running career continued at Huron High School, where he was a state high school champion in cross country his senior year. DeHaven also won titles in the 1,600 and 3,200-meters in track.

DeHaven’s running career at SDSU was nothing short of impressive. He was a 16-time All-American and won 20 North Central Conference individual titles. As a Jackrabbit he also won four NCC cross country championships, eight titles in NCC indoor and outdoor track and ran on a conference champion relay team. He continually finished among the top at the cross country nationals during his four years, placing fifth, ninth, third and third respectively. DeHaven also succeeded in the classroom, as he was named a three-time academic all-NCC selection.

Since his departure from SDSU with a degree in computer science, DeHaven has been a business systems analyst and continued to be a competitive runner. He competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the marathon.

“Making the Olympic team was a highlight of my professional running career, and it was a great experience other than the actual race, which was a disaster,” DeHaven said.

After his poor finish in Sydney, DeHaven continued to train but suffered an injury about a year ago that stopped him from competing on another Olympic team.

Besides coaching himself, he has also coached some of the country’s top runners. DeHaven trained with Tim Hacker, 1995 NCAA Division I cross country champion and advised Mark Coogan, 1996 USA Olympian.

Last fall, DeHaven was inducted into the NCAA Division II Coaches Association Cross Country Hall of Fame in Raleigh, N.C.

DeHaven said, “It was a little strange (being inducted), because I hadn’t won a Division II cross country title.”

As his competitive running career came to an end, DeHaven felt that he needed to channel his passion for the sport into something closely related to track and field or road running.

“Last fall when I was inducted into the Division II Cross Country Hall of Fame, I had the opportunity to be around the men’s and women’s cross country teams as they competed in the National meet,” DeHaven said, “I was very impressed how each of the team members handled themselves before, during and after the competition.”

DeHaven jumped at the chance to coach at SDSU after former coach Paul Danger resigned after six seasons at SDSU, in which he led the men’s team to four straight NCC cross country titles.

DeHaven has followed the program since his graduation, and feels like it is his responsibility to maintain the tradition of excellence that SDSU has had for over 75 years. SDSU has commonly run against Division I opponents and done well. DeHaven believes that that success will continue at the Division I level.

“Passing along my knowledge of the sport to extremely hard working young people, who strive to be great athletes and great people is the best part of coaching,” DeHaven said.

Coaching also comes with some challenges, specifically injuries. DeHaven tries to craft training sessions that provide adequate stress and also leave enough time to recuperate between those sessions.

“My vision for the program is to field men’s and women’s teams that are capable of qualifying for the National meet,” DeHaven said, “Our goal is to do our best running at the Pre-National Invitational, where we will face off against 60 plus Division I teams and at the Division I Independent Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas, on October 30.”

DeHaven is married to a fellow SDSU alum, Shelli, and the couple has three children, Addison (age 8), Graham (age 6) and Quinn (age 2).