College cross country: Bison trio key at D-II nationals

Chris Hagan and Chris Perleberg began their college cross country careers graced by greatness. They were among the last athletes coached by Rollie Greeno.

Chris Hagan and Chris Perleberg began their college cross country careers graced by greatness. They were among the last athletes coached by Rollie Greeno.

The legendary Jamestown College coach recently retired after several decades of getting runners to run faster, jumpers to jump higher and throwers to throw farther.

He did it with wit and toughness.

"He had all sorts of stories," Hagan said. "But he made you work."

Hagan and Perleberg are ending their careers at North Dakota State with the same principles taught by Greeno.


Their diligent training has helped the Bison reach today's NCAA Division II Championships in Raleigh, N.C.

Perleberg, a senior, and Hagan, a junior, have consistently been the Nos. 2 and 3 Bison runners. Senior standout Darik Hoff, after all, couldn't get the Bison to nationals by himself.

"He keeps the rest of us hungry," Perleberg said of Hoff. "It's nice having that guy out in front of us, something to reach for. As the leader, you get comfortable."

Hoff won two meets this season. He finished 12th in the North Central Regional two weeks ago.

He'll finish an outstanding four-year NDSU career today. The careers of Perleberg and Hagan, meanwhile, have blossomed since transferring to NDSU last year.

Both have lowered their 8-K times by about a minute.

"Which is pretty considerable for an 8-K," Perleberg said.

Although both started at Jamestown College, they didn't transfer as a package deal. Both made the decision irrespective of the other.


Hagan wanted to be a landscape architecture major, something that NDSU offers. Perleberg just wanted a change of scenery from his hometown.

"We're best friends," Hagan said. "Chris got me into cross country in high school but we decided on our own that we wanted to compete at a higher level."

Perleberg was an NAIA All-American as a sophomore. In track, he was a national qualifier in the steeplechase. That could help him today.

"It's not like I haven't had a taste of national meets," he said.

NDSU is making its first national appearance since 1998.

Adams State (Colo.) and Western State (Colo.) are expected are the favorites among the 24 teams.

"We're actually a pretty good team," Hagan said. "We've got the main man (Hoff) and a few other strong runners. We just work off of each other."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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