TRACK AND FIELD
For someone from a sixth-generation farm family, it shouldn't be surprising to hear Glenwood's Dane Kruse compare hurdling to a horse's pace.
"Rhythm is the No. 1 thing in hurdles,'' he said. "It's just like a trot for a horse. You hear their feet clap every now and then, but you want to have a solid rhythm.''
Kruse has had the rhythm in his senior year with the Rams. He finished fifth in the all-class 110-meter high hurdles at last month's Drake Relays, and also helped his team to a third in the 400 relay and an eighth in the shuttle hurdle relay. He will be a key figure in Glenwood's bid for a Class 3-A state team title May 21 to 23 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
"He comes from a great family, a hard-working farm family that has good values,'' Glenwood coach Mark Starner said. "He's always asking for something to do. He always wants more events.''
Luck has not been on Kruse's side at the state meet the past two years. As a sophomore, he qualified sixth for the 3-A 110 high hurdles final, but slipped and pushed over a hurdle, and was disqualified.
He had high hopes last year, but his preliminary time was ninth-best, one-hundredth of a second from reaching the finals.
Kruse and the Rams are convinced their fortunes have changed, and it started at this year's Drake Relays, when Kruse had a great 110 highs finish and led off the 400 relay which broke a 49-year-old school record on consecutive days, running 43.06 in the finals for third. The other runners were senior Jon Van Scoy, sophomore Mavrick Decker and senior James Fuller.
"It boosted my morale so much," Kruse said. "All the other times I've run up there for hurdles, I've stunk it up. That was very relieving, running some good races."
The son of Jeff and Carol Kruse lives on a row crop, cattle and hog farm near Silver City. He is active in 4-H, where he shows livestock, and is a past president of the school's FFA chapter while maintaining a grade-point average above 3.0.
"Agriculture is kind of my big thing," he said. "When I grow up, I know I'm going to be a farmer. A lot of kids grow up saying, 'I don't know what I'm going to be.' I know I'm going to be a farmer. That's my passion.''
Next year, Kruse will join his sister, Kelsey, at Northwest Missouri State, where she's finishing her junior year. He'll run track and major in agricultural science.
Kruse isn't sure where he got his athleticism. His parents weren't particularly active in sports, although his uncle Joel, a Glenwood grad, was a good athlete. Regardless, Kruse played football for four years for the Rams, and baseball and basketball for two each.
Track, however, has always been his specialty. He was last year's team MVP and is one of four senior captains this season. He is seeking to reach state in the shuttle hurdle relay for a fourth straight season.
Kruse is eagerly anticipating the final two weeks of his high school track career. His coach said he's enjoyed getting to know Kruse during his career.
"He's a down-home kid, pretty personable,'' Starner said. "Hopefully he can get an opportunity to kind of redeem himself in the 110 highs. I know that's a big goal of his.''
Kruse said the coaches preach about not getting ahead of themselves. But now that the end of the season is in sight, the objective is clear — a team title.
"We have a good shot, as long as people stay healthy,'' he said. "We all want to win that title really bad. I love the team that I'm with. I wouldn't trade them for anybody else.
ABOUT DANE KRUSE
Sport: Track and field
Current Iowa 3-A state rankings: 110 high hurdles: 3rd (14.56); 400 relay: 1st (43.06); Shuttle hurdle relay: 3rd (58.66)
College: Northwest Missouri State