Erickson’s New Race

Parker Erickson competed for Gayville-Volin and helped the Raiders to a Class B track title in 2009 and was named Co-Outstanding Performer, winning the 400 and 800-meter title. He repeated as champion in both events in 2010. Erickson is now a freshman for the University of South Dakota track team. (P&D File Photo)

GAYVILLE During the last two years, Parker Erickson was a household name in the high school track circles.

But now Erickson starts from scratch again as a freshman on the University of South Dakota track team.

Two years ago, Erickson was a key piece of the Gayville-Volin track team. His individual titles in the 400 and 800-meter run helped the Raiders not only win the South Dakota Class B Title, but he also shared the Class B Most Outstanding Performer.

The next year, Gayville-Volin wasnt in the running for a repeat title, but Erickson was set to defend both of his crowns. His time of 49.49 in the 400-meter dash was a full second better than the second-place finisher, and he also won the 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.96, also a second better than the runner-up.

However, Erickson is now part of a team that features many athletes who had impressive performances during their state high school meets.

We have talked about what we did in high school, and we all did well, Erickson said.

Erickson has had to deal with many adjustments during his freshman year at USD. For one, the track season isnt just three months anymore; it runs almost year round with indoor and outdoor seasons.

Having it all year long is a transition, and its a lot more work, Erickson said. Its a lot more running, of course.

Its not only about the amount of running Erickson has to do, but also how he runs.

Im learning how deep track can get, he said. Running can get very technical, and its a lot more advanced.

Another thing Erickson has adjusted to is the size of the track team. Gayville-Volin has about 60 students in its high school. The USD mens track and field team has a roster of 42 athletes.

Its quite different going from 60 kids to this many, but its nice, Erickson said.

USDs practices started a couple of months ago and, so far, everything has been smooth sailing for Erickson.

Practice has been going great, he said. I like all the coaches, and the other athletes are nice and answer any of the questions I have.

Ericksons high school coach was Larry Buffington. Now Dave Gottsleben, who is in his 27th year as USD mens track and field coach, is calling the shots.

But Erickson said he hasnt noticed much of a different between the two coaches.

Actually, they are kind of the same person, he said. They are easy going, and easy to talk to. They are both good guys.

Erickson isnt planning on redshirting this year and hasnt been told he is. Right now, he plans to compete in three events: the 400-meter dash, the 800-meter run and the 1600-meter relay.

Erickson already has his sights set on helping USD in each of those events when it comes to the Great West Conference meets.

Outdoors, I would like to do 48 seconds and make the conference meets, he said. It will be fun to travel to the big tracks and compete against the big schools.

Ericksons time in the 400 at the state meet would have been good for second in last years GWC Indoor championships and tied for seventh in the GWC Outdoor championships. In the 800, his time would have placed him sixth in the indoor season and fifth in the outdoor season.

But even though he is a freshman, Erickson probably wont be sneaking up on anyone. The last Erickson who was a freshman was his older sister Emma, who won the 800 NCAA Division II national titles in both the indoor and outdoor season.

Parker doesnt think he will burst onto the scene like his sister did, but he does think he can have an impact in his first year as a Coyote.

I dont know if I will win a national title, Erickson said with a chuckle. But I think I help us have a good 1600 relay along with the other teammates. I think we will do pretty well at the conference meet.

USDs first action of the season will be at the Alumni Meet in Vermillion Jan. 15.

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