RIDGE, S.D. - Invoking a no-nonsense attitude, coach Dale Pine has
refused to allow his athletes to fall victim to the obstacles that
present daily challenges in Pine Ridge. That's why he believes cross
country running is the ideal sport at his South Dakota high school.
can't complain to the coach about getting the ball," the
20-year teacher for the Pine Ridge Thorpes said, who also shares
the coaching duties with his wife Lyn. "Every time you line
up, it's man-versus-man and you can never make an excuse."
a philosophy is one of the driving forces behind why Pine Ridge
has become so dominant. On Oct. 25, for the sixth time in nine years
the boys' squad repeated as South Dakota champions in the "A"
division (those schools below the top-16 in enrollment size). For
added measure, the school added its inaugural combined title when
the girls' squad placed in sixth.
the team is junior Patrick Glass who won the individual race for
the third time in four years himself clocking 16:15.62 over the
5,000-meter (3.1-mile) track at the Broadland golf course in Huron.
This time was good for a 4.67-second victory and would have placed
him second among all runners in South Dakota's three categories.
a slender body frame of 135 pounds, Glass possesses the ideal size
for a long-distance runner. His continued success has already attracted
the attention of numerous colleges and universities towards a post-secondary
a seasoned veteran, he recognizes it can easily be him who sets
the pace in any race.
go out first and stay out there. Then at the end I can slow down
and then take off," said the 11th grade student.
with Glass's solo victory, the Thorpes needed three other runners
to post results for a team score. With freshman Alex Wilson-Pine
crossing the line in fourth, 12 seconds back, and senior Zuya White
Plume in 11th along with Nupa White Plume, 32nd, their placements
were just enough to total one point lower than the foursome from
Miller High School.
surprised Pine Ridge was the finish by its girls' team. The
sixth-place was paced by freshman Robin Webber who wound up second
out of 130 runners with a mark of 16:36.15, two seconds behind the
winner in the 4,000-meter (2.5-mile) race. This success wasn't
anticipated at the start of the season when Webber decided to run
only as a means to prepare for the volleyball and basketball seasons.
you see a guy like Patrick do so well, it inspires others to do
well," Webber said.
Pine showed satisfaction in the next prodigy within the Thorpes'
tradition of cross-country excellence.
didn't have to go out and compete because she's only a
freshman. She could have jogged it and finished 20th," said
preparing their athletes with proper running skills, the Pines maintain
a team philosophy in really what is an individual sport.
at times, every day of the week with numerous routes tucked among
the Black Hills of the southwestern part of the state, the boys
and girls teams also hang out together in town at the mall.
dedication and devotion displayed by the Pines is not to satiate
their own need for success as Dale said this team is for the kids.
Rather, both he and his wife need to press their athletes to remain
focused on the task of running and staying in school.
cite some of the problems that plague the reservation such as alcoholism
and high unemployment which can drag youth into a cycle of hopelessness
if there isn't something positive they can grasp. To prevent
some of the kids from falling into any trap of despair, the two
will maintain team unity by driving the students home from practice
and in some circumstances, drag kids out of bed to ensure they're
don't care about the winning. What they learn in the end is
hard work and discipline," Dale said about why he and Lyn will
take unusual and extra steps for their students.
hard work also has its rewards. The Thorpes attended the 11-state
Midwest meet in Kenosha, Wis. on Nov. 29. For Glass, this race was
the first time he competed in the Seeded category after finishing
eighth last year in the freshman/sophomore division. Glass and teammates
Zuya and Nupa White Plume proudly represented their school at the
out of here can run as good as anybody else but they just need exposure,"