Les Knutson: Late-bloomer Drealan has grabbed the brass ring
BY LES KNUTSON
The Globe sports reporter
MADISON, S.D. -- As a junior at Fulda High School in the fall of 2004, Anthony Drealan placed 11th in the Red Rock Conference cross country meet on the Slayton Golf Course, just missing All-Conference honors with a 5,000-meter time of 18:45. The following year, he was the lead runner for Murray County Central / Fulda in the conference meet on the same course and finished sixth with an improved time of 18:04.
Drealan also played basketball for the Raiders, helping FHS reach the 2006 South Sub-Section championship game and ran track in the spring. He was a good all-around high school athlete, but far from being considered great.
Five years after running his first season of cross country, Drealan became the top runner for the Dakota State University Trojans in Madison, S.D. and traveled west -- with the team -- to Fort Vancouver, Wash., to run in the NAIA national meet. He had qualified individually for the NAIA Nationals in Kenosha, Wis., the year before and finished 200th with an 8,000-meter time of 26:59.
Then as a senior in 2009, Drealan ran a great race, moving up progressively, and earned NAIA All-American honors by placing 25th (Top 30 were All-American) among a huge field of 323 finishers from all across the United States with an 8K time of 25:46.
“I look back and sometimes wish I had worked a bit harder in high school,” said Drealan, who is now in his sixth season as the head cross country (and track and field) coach at DSU. “But things worked out well for me when I got out here and was fortunate to be part of a good group of guys who really worked hard and took running seriously.”
Drealan’s collegiate career at DSU included those two runs at the National Cross Country Meet, a second NAIA All-American honor (in track as part of DSU’s second-place distance medley relay at the 2010 Indoor Nationals at Johnson City, Tenn.) and several sparkling times on the track, including a still school-record 5,000-meter clocking of 15:00.34 -- nearly four minutes faster than his 2004 cross country time at that distance.
“I wasn’t surprised at how good Anthony became when he ran for DSU,” said his high school coach Dominick Damm, who ran with the Trojans himself from 1994-1997, including a trip to the national meet in Kenosha in ’96. “He was so eager to learn and improve, which is exactly what he did when he matured as a college runner.”
Drealan’s 10,000-meter time of 30:41.33 ranks second all-time at DSU and he’s third on the 3,000-meter steeplechase list with a clocking of 9:23.03. He has the second-fastest half-marathon time run by a Trojan (1:08:36 in 2010) and ran a full marathon in 2:43:37 in 2007, which ranks eighth on DSU’s all-time list. He’s also eighth in the 1,500 with a 3:56.36.
There is an action picture of Anthony among the displays along the athletic accomplishment board at entrance to the gymnasium at the DSU Field House. He was named DSU’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2011 and was also the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) Most Valuable Senior Athlete that same year.
Drealan had several exceptional performances after his years of eligibility were used up, including a most-impressive ninth-place finish at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational on a very challenging course with a time of 25:48. On the track, he ran times of 8:27 (3,000 meters) and 14:45 (5,000) during the 2011 indoor season and then capped his DSU career with a DAC 5,000 outdoor championship when he still had a season of eligibility left.Stayed on as the coach
Drealan stayed on at DSU as an assistant in 2011 and 2012 and became the Trojans’ head cross country coach for both men and women in the fall of 2013. A year later, he became DSU’s head track and field coach, indoor and outdoor, men and women. He guided the Trojan men to a NSAA (North Star Athletic Association) cross country conference championship in 2014.
His success has continued, including a recent NSAA men’s cross country team championship, qualifying the Trojans to this week’s NAIA National Race at Seminole Valley Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“We had a nice season with our men’s team this fall and the guys ran very well at the conference meet, took care of business and got the job done,” said Drealan, who was honored by the NSAA as the men’s Coach of the Year. “We are looking forward to the opportunity of competing again at the national meet for the first time since 2009 when we placed 16th out of 32 teams.”
There will be 36 team and well over 300 runners competing Friday, including a trio of NSAA All-Conference runners from DSU -- Braden Curnow (Hibbing), Max Cruse (New Glarus, Wisconsin) and Matthew Dunn (Marshall) -- who paced the Trojans to the conference title with a 1-2-6 performance at the front of the pack of 56 finishers from seven teams at the Maple Groves Course in West Salem, Wis., (near La Crosse) on Nov. 3.
Drealan is the son of Wayne and Heidi Drealan of rural Fulda. A founding member of the Okabena Bay Area Striders, Wayne has run in every Twin Cities Marathon since 1982 and has never missed competing in a Worthington Turkey Day 10K since its inception in 1980.
Anthony and his wife Samantha, along with their almost 2-year-old son Westin, live in Madison where Drealan has flourished as a runner and coach at DSU.Kilgore is also on the DSU board
Adrian’s Kyle Kilgore is also on the accomplishment board at DSU. Kilgore excelled as a basketball player for the Trojans as a prolific inside scorer and rebounder. He ranks fifth on DSU’s all-time field goal percentage list, making 414 of 714 shots (58 percent) during his two-year career (’15-16 and ’16-17) with the Trojans. He’s also fifth in career shot blocks (46). Kilgore helped DSU win the 2016 NSAA Tournament and advance to the NAIA Nationals.
Mitchell Lonneman, a 2017 Adrian graduate, is playing for Mount Marty College in Yankton, S.D. He is splitting time between the varsity, coached by Ellsworth legend Cody Schilling, and the JV. I saw the 6-6 Lonneman pour in the points and claim his share of rebounds last Monday when I traveled to Yankton to watch DSU’s JV squad take on Mount Marty. My youngest son, Logan, played about 13 minutes for the Trojans, realizing his dream of playing a bit of college basketball. Mitch Biever, a sophomore from Pipestone, has been DSU’s leading scorer in two of its first three JV games.