TMP's Ruder headed for K-State By KLINT SPILLER
kspiller@dailynews.net

Kansas State University has become a second home for Thomas More Prep-Marian’s top-tier track and field athletes, such as thrower Eric Thomas and sprinter Kim Haberman.

KSU added one more Monarch to the Wildcat family on Wednesday: senior Heather Ruder, who TMP track and field coach Matt Dumler said likely will finish her career as “probably the greatest distance runner we’ve seen in this school’s history.”

Ruder signed her letter of intent in the TMP cafeteria with a room full of family, faculty and classmates.

She said it was a tough decision, because she also was considering the University of Kansas and University of Southern Mississippi.

“I really liked the girls on the team there and the coach and the atmosphere of the campus,” Ruder said regarding KSU. “When I
visited there, it was a really cool atmosphere, and the girls were awesome. They just made me want to come.”

Ruder is one of the most heralded female athletes in the history of Northwest Kansas.

She is a four-time all-state cross country runner, which included four top-three finishes and one state championship during her sophomore season.

In track and field, Ruder is an eight-time state champion. She is undefeated so far in the 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs, and she won the 3,200 her freshman and sophomore years. She also is a four-time silver medalist with two in the 400, one in the 3,200 and one in the 3,200-meter relay.

“It’s actually kind of surreal still,” Dumler said regarding her signing. “She is my first pure D-1 athlete. I helped coach a couple other ones, but she is the first one I helped develop. It’s neat to see her move onto bigger and better things and see what is going to happen with the training she’s got.”

Ruder, who plans to study kinesiology at KSU, said she’s nervous about the jump to NCAA Division I athletics, but she’s also excited.

“I think the girls will create a really good atmosphere and push me every day, which I think will help me a lot,” she said.

Ruder credited Dumler for helping her succeed at TMP.

“He is an amazing coach,” she said. “I realized that when I was taking my visits. The kind of the workouts they do, compared to ours, is so much the same. I think he is running like a college program here, just on a lower level.”

KSU’s coaches already have sent Ruder some workouts to prepare her for Division I training, and Dumler said he plans to incorporate that into her training this spring.

Ruder said she’ll know more once she gets there, but at the moment, she said the coaches are considering her more for mid-distance races like the 800 and 1,600, which she said is good since she prefers those races over longer ones.

Dumler expects her to make the leap to the higher level of competition without much of a problem since she’ll be training year around.

So far, she’s accomplished so much with only seasonal training since she has so much on her plate the rest of the year. Ruder, a two-time academic all-state cross country runner, has an exemplary grade-point average, is involved in other activities and is the star point guard for this season’s basketball team.

Dumler said at KSU, she’ll focus more on running and school, which he believes should translate to even better results.

“Moving on, that’s what she will become: a pure runner,” Dumler said. “She’ll put in year-long training, and she’ll be running with girls that are equal and better than her. So she’ll be chasing people, which she hasn’t had. It will be real exciting to watch her develop.”