Jacks celebrate Phil through event

Phillip+LaVallee+running+in+a+cross+country+meet+in+2012.

Phillip LaVallee running in a cross country meet in 2012.

 

 With nicknames ranging from “Big Papa” to “Front Row Phil,” Philip LaVallee was a very energetic student athlete. Despite the rain and cold, community members, student athletes, friends and family ran for LaVallee while Brookings Police and Fire Departments blocked off the streets.

Friday Oct. 4 a one-mile memorial run was held in LaVallee’s memory. Over 50 people participated in the run from Larson Park to Edgebrook Golf Course. The race was lead by SDSU cross country alumni. 

LaVallee died in a car-pedestrian accident near Otsego, Minn. on Aug. 8, 2013 while training for his sophomore cross country season. LaVallee competed on the SDSU cross country team and the track and field team. 

“Phil was like a lot of freshman, he was very open to learn but, he had a different sort of drive level,” head coach Rod DeHaven said. “He was the guy who spent a little extra time after practice but also had a goofy personality. The guys really appreciated the fact that he was really genuine.”

LaVallee was a dedicated student and an outstanding athlete. He was a Summit League Distinguished Scholar and was on the Summit League Honor Roll. LaVallee was majoring in civil engineering. 

“The things Phil did and the things he said were so unique,” said Dylan Slaba, sophomore cross country runner. “Nobody could be like Phil. He was funny in his own way. He was a very humble guy.”

In Lavellee’s freshman season, he finished 15th overall in the 2012 Summit League Championships. He also placed fifth in the 800 meter run for the indoor and outdoor track and field championship. 

Phil was an avid Ping-Pong and foosball player. He was the goofball of the cross country group. 

“He was very lighthearted and made it easier when we we’re all so serious,” said Sam Anderson a sophomore cross country runner and teammate.

Jessica Eibs, a sophomore cross country runner, described LaVallee as, “Very outgoing and he would talk to anyone. He always wanted to do his best.” 

Cami Powers, the run coordinator, did not personally know LaVallee but felt like she had to do something. 

“I am a runner myself, a mother and married to a runner,” Powers said. “I had a connection when I found out what happened and felt like I had to do something in support of Phil’s memory.” 

Powers and others who helped with the race have a goal to raise a $20,000 endowment in Phil’s name. 

“There is no way we can replace Phil but there’s going to be a point when we tap into the energy and emotional love we had for Phil and that will carry us over to the championship season on both the men and women’s side,” DeHaven said.

Following the Run for Phil, the SDSU cross country team held the SDSU Classic at Edgebrook Golf Course. The women ran first and finished fourth overall. 

Cheyanna Bowers clocked in at 18:15.55 to take 15th place, Courtney Neubert follower Bowers to finish 23rd (18:40.40) and Jessica Eibs right behind to take 25th (18:42.17). 

The men’s cross country team won the SDSU Classic for a second straight time. Trent Lusignan won the SDSU Classic for the second time in a row with a time of 24:52.20. 

SDSU had an alumni team that ran with the students. Michael Krsnak, alumni, finished in second place (25:14.39). Anthony Bongard clocked in at 25:16.26 to take third place. 

The Jackrabbits will race next in Peoria, Ill. for the Bradley Classic on Oct. 18.