Rachel King runs to historical career at South Dakota State
Daughter of Iron Mountain and Kingsford graduates eyes Olympics
South Dakota State’s record-breaking Rachel King isn’t through clearing hurdles in her distance-running career.
King, who erased six school records including six resets in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, has her sights on the 2020 Olympic Trials.
“I deeply desire to continue my running career and I believe that this experience is only the beginning and there is still a lot of room for improvement and growth for me,” King told the Brookings Register. “With the heavy demands of grad school, I will most likely have to train on my own, but I am determined and willing to do so.”
The daughter of Iron Mountain and Kingsford high school graduates, Debbie (Bray) and David King, will be attending grad school at the University of Mary in Bismarck, SD. Rachel is the granddaughter of Pat and the late Florian Bray of Iron Mountain and Pat and the late Dick King of Crystal Falls.
King capped her college career in Brookings, SD, with the Summit League’s Track Athlete of the Year award.
The St. Michael, Minn., native qualified for the NCAA Division 1 national championships for a second time by winning the third and final heat in the NCAA West preliminary’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. The two-time All-America honorable mention posted a time of 9:50.15.
A four-time participant in the NCAA prelims, King was hoping for a time in the 9:50 area at the Sacramento, Calif., event. She trailed the heat leader by 10 meters before a late surge.
“I got over the last water barrier really well and I figured I would at least have a chance to catch her (leader),” King said. “I noticed she wasn’t sprinting as hard and I didn’t want to leave anything to chance so I kept sprinting through to sneak by her. Both Rod (coach DeHaven) and I know I have an incredible kick so as long as I stay close and feel good, anything can happen.
“But today was perfect. My legs felt great, I got over the barriers really smooth and we got out to a good pace.”
Coach DeHaven called King “courageous.”
“I don’t think she felt great but really rallied to punch her ticket to Austin (for the NCAA Championships),” DeHaven said. “We are all happy for her to get through, especially with the degree of difficulty there can be on the track in this situation. But she’s a senior with a lot of maturity and knows what she has to do.”
At the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas, King placed 21st (10:29.77) in the semifinals.
King is also a cross country standout, earning all-league four times and NCAA all-region twice. She has eight Summit League individual titles in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
Sporting a cumulative grade-point average of 3.871, she majored in community and public health with a Spanish minor and a pre-occupational therapy specialization. King has been on the SDSUY dean’s list, Summit League all-academic team and USTFCCCA Division 1 all-academic multiple times.
“When I came to South Dakota State, they suggested this major to me since I wanted a career with occupational therapy, and I have learned to really enjoy the major,” King said. “My major has provided me with a holistic view of one’s health and the health care system, and I think that will really help me as an OT.
“I want to be an OT because I love working with children who have special needs or physical disabilities, and in the career, I will be able to help strengthen others’ skills and make many activities of daily life easier and more attainable for them.”
She plans to specialize in pediatrics after grad school.
“My athletic career at SDSU has gone above and beyond what I have expected,” King said. “I came in with high expectations for myself, but I have surpassed them.
“Being a student-athlete has taught me great time management skills and I believe that if I was not a student athlete, I would not be as dedicated to my academics as I am. I think running keeps me on top of my academics because I know I don’t have much time to waste, so it causes me to focus on it more.”
(Brookings Register and South Dakota State University Athletics contributed to this story)