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Prep Focus: Self-driven Schuyler leading Winner

WINNER -- As an eighth-grader, Sidda Schuyler is steadily becoming one of the state's top girls cross country runners. In the sport of long distance running, success goes hand-in-hand with work ethic. But as Winner Area head coach Jayd Schuyler n...

Winner's Sidda Schuyler competes in the Region 4B cross country meet at the Chamberlain Country Club last week in Oacoma. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Winner's Sidda Schuyler competes in the Region 4B cross country meet at the Chamberlain Country Club last week in Oacoma. (Matt Gade / Republic)

WINNER - As an eighth-grader, Sidda Schuyler is steadily becoming one of the state's top girls cross country runners.

In the sport of long distance running, success goes hand-in-hand with work ethic. But as Winner Area head coach Jayd Schuyler noted, hard work needs to be self-driven. It can't be coached into a runner.

"I don't ask her to do things she doesn't want to do," said Jayd, Sidda's father and coach. "You have to want to do it. I can't push her, I can't force her. She gets up in the morning, sets her own alarm and does a 5K in the morning with an elevation mask. Then she'll do the practice with everybody else."

It's those type of morning runs, on top of a full school day plus regular practice, that help set Sidda apart from the pack. Sidda said running helps clear her mind and noted the sport is a family tradition.

"My whole family just does it and I like the adrenaline part of it. It's exciting," said Sidda, who added she looked up to Chamberlain standout Ella Byers, who was a state champion in 2015, as a role model in the sport.

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Like Byers, Sidda has had success at a young age. She placed seventh at the Class A state meet as a seventh-grader last year and will enter this weekend's state meet with the state's second-best time (18 minutes, 14 seconds) throughout all three classes. Brookings' standout Ellie Abraham has recorded a mark of 18:10.

"I know courses are different, heat, cold, windy and not (windy) is all different and all relative, but to know she can hit that time is what we want this time of the year," Jayd said after last week's Region 4B meet at the Chamberlain Country Club in Oacoma.

Entering the region meet, Sidda had a time goal in her mind.

"I knew I had to get under 18:30 if I wanted to be in the top three for state," said Sidda, who bested her goal by 16 seconds and finished first in the race. "I worked really hard."

The region meet was a change in results from earlier in the season. Sidda had taken second place, behind Chamberlain's Allison Hough, in the Big Dakota Conference meet on Sept. 14.

Jayd said that race was a good gauge for Sidda on how much harder she had to work down the stretch of the season.

"We don't start picking it up until the Big Dakota (Conference meet) and then we go to our two-a-days and our hard runs," Jayd said. "You don't want to (be the most fit) in August, you want to hit that about mid-October."

Jayd added Sidda started running with him and the varsity cross country team after her fifth-grade school year. He noted her small frame fits the mold a standout distance runner.

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"She's small, she's petite, which fits distance running," Jayd said. "She's done every sport out there, but cross country just kind of fit her. Her drive is what sets her apart."

The Class A girls state cross country meet set to start at 1 p.m. Mountain Time on Saturday at Hart Ranch Camping Resort in Rapid City. Both Sidda and Jayd said after the region meet, there would be little breaks and training would still be intense. The Winner Area team will look to improve from last year's sixth-place finish with Sidda leading the way.

"You have to keep your pace up and keep pushing it even when you don't think you can go any further," Sidda said. "We have keep pushing ourselves and keep doing what we are doing."

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