Moeller making strides on track at SDSU

RUNNING THE CURVE — South Dakota State University track & field student-athlete Andrew Moeller (blue jersey) runs the 800-meter race at the 2021 Jim Emmerich Alumni Invitational at Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex in Brookings, South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of Dave Eggen/Inertia Photography)

BROOKINGS, South Dakota — Though he’s yet to compete in his first collegiate outdoor track & field season, former Fairmont High School running standout Andrew Moeller is setting personal records during the current indoor competition.

Moeller is in his second indoor season with the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits track & field program in Brookings, S.D.

Moeller crossed into different events during his freshman indoor season, running the mile for the Jackrabbits twice, but this season he’s been putting up points for SDSU in the 800-meter run and the 4×400-meter relay.

He said the competition level at the Division II school has pushed him to improve in his main event.

“Competition is a lot harder than what it was in high school,” Moeller said. “When you go toe up the line, instead of people being there for the social part and having fun, the guys are only there to compete, and they put in that kind of work in practice. So it’s definitely a lot more challenging when you have guys like that to race against every week. But it definitely brings the best out in you, especially when you have teammates like that to where practices, you can just really get rolling together and make some good stuff happen.”

The Jackrabbits have competed in six meets this winter season and have two remaining, including today’s SDSU Last Chance meet — the final opportunity to join the Jackrabbits conference meet roster.

Moeller has run the 800 in five meets, while adding on a 4×400 race in two competitions. He started the season at the University of South Dakota Invitational, finishing second in the 4×400 with teammates Riley Bauer, Derek Boekelheide and Braxton Karnik. Moeller ran the third leg of the relay, in addition to placing sixth in the 800 with a time of 2:02.53.

He greatly improved his 800-meter time during the SDSU Jim Emmerich/Alumni Invitational on Jan. 22 with a time of 1:57.75 for a person-record and fifth place.

Moeller then reset his PR with a time of 1:56.36 at the North Dakota University Open on Jan. 31, finishing ninth.

Moeller then ran to a sixth-place finish in 2:00.81 in the 800 at the Dakota Quad on Feb. 6. Most recently, he took fourth in 1:57.26 in the 800 at the SDSU Indoor Classic on Feb. 13 before teaming up for a sixth-place finish in 3:33.01 in the 4×400 at the Indoor Classic.

Moeller said he is hoping the competition in today’s Last Chance Meet will help push him to a qualifying time for the conference meet.

“So to make our conference roster for the 800, it’s looking like it’s gonna take a mid- to low-1:54, which is a bit faster than what I’ve run,” Moeller said. “But this meet, we’re going to have some guys that are going to be running those kind of times. And hopefully, I can just hang on and throw down a good enough time to get myself on the indoor roster as well.”

Though Moeller has had success throughout this indoor season, he has been recovering from a training injury sustained in the fall. He said the extra miles and speed training put a bit too much pressure on his hips and led to an issue.

“After an MRI and everything, it just looked like it was IT (Iliotibial) band stuff,” Moeller said. “So that’s just a lot of hip strength and mobility there. So yeah, I’m still doing my rehab stuff just to try to keep building up that strength, that’s gonna keep all the muscles in the area strong, so that I can hopefully not have those kind of issues anymore, because that’s kind of the second time that that’s happened to me and kind of kept me from training for a little while.”

Moeller said the extra rehab work adds to his already full schedule. Like most collegiate athletes, Moeller’s day-to-day schedule is packed. He said his classes are always in the morning so he can go to practice at 3:20 p.m. and spend the next three hours on the track, in the weight room or rehabbing with trainers.

Overall, Moeller said he has enjoyed the first nearly two years of his college experience, but granted it hasn’t been quite the usual start to college life.

“For the most part, we’re back in class, but most of the classes are still a hybrid model,” Moeller said. “So to keep classrooms at a lower capacity, some days will be online and some days in the classroom, but it’s definitely better than being all online. So we get to be on campus at least.”

SDSU Director of Track & Field Rod DeHaven said there were expectations for Moeller coming into his initial winter season in 2020, joining a group of middle-distance runners that was rebuilding in the program. DeHaven said Moeller’s first indoor track season was pretty normal for freshman athletes.

“I know, Andrew was pretty dedicated in high school,” DeHaven said. “So maybe he handled it better than other freshmen we’ve had, but I still think there’s always a little bit of a transition as to, you know, how much you really have to do, how many days you can potentially miss and things like that.

“And then, of course, injuries when you’re training at a little bit more of an intense level, you can rack up a little bit. So I think his first year was kind of how we expected. … Having an outdoor season helps them (middle-distance runners) as well get kind of to that next level and start believing, ‘OK, we can get some stuff done.'”

The lack of the spring season in 2020 might have stopped not only Moeller, but all underclassmen athletes’ development, DeHaven said. But he said the SDSU track program will be in need of strong middle-distance runners like Moeller come the spring season.

“During Andrew’s senior year, we had a big stable of 800-meter runners,” DeHaven said. “Now that our team dynamics have changed a little bit, we don’t have as much depth in that area and it’s not quite as good as it once was for various reasons. Sometimes that’s the way it works in recruiting. So it’d be nice to have them step forward. Certainly right now that’s an area where you know, our middle-distance and distance program, that’s probably the void that we have … looks like an event that we may not score at the conference championships you know, unless we have a kind of a breakthrough performance with one of our guys here in the next (today).”

Moeller said he is looking forward to running his first outdoor season with the SDSU program because running outdoors leads to better times and conditions.

He said his main goals for the spring are to improve his time to the point of making the outdoor conference meet roster.

“We have a very competitive conference in the Summit League this year,” Moeller said. “It’s a very, very tough meet to get into.”

While Moeller continues to chase his goals on the track, he is pursuing a degree in Agricultural Science and Education. He said his post-college goal is to return to the family farm, but he said he might like to get a teaching job first.

DeHaven said though Moeller and other young athletes have had a tough start to their careers, Moeller’s farm roots might have helped him push through tough times at school and he is happy to have Moeller as part of the Jackrabbit program and family.

“The struggle of pursuing sports during this pandemic that, you know, we’ve asked our students do a lot on their own,” DeHaven said. “And I think, given his age, he’s done very well with it. … Andrew, like a lot of our kids that come from families that are producers, when he went home last spring, not only did we ask him to train but he was also working on the farm and then doing school. A lot of times, those kids when it comes to school, their workloads are decreased significantly. So yeah, it’s just been a crazy year and, you know, Andrew’s a great kid who we’re glad to have as part of our family.”


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