Belford signs with U of Sioux Falls
By John Roark
RAWLINS — Rawlins High School senior distance-running standout Montana Belford didn’t have to look far before determining where she was going to spend her next four years.
“It wasn’t a tough decision at all,” Belford said Monday after signing a letter of intent to attend the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.)— courtesy of an athletic scholarship that covers cross-country and indoor/outdoor track and field. “Things turned out the way I thought they would.”
Belford, who is expected to leave Nancy Steinberg’s programs as a three-time All-Class 3A Eastern Conference and All-State selection in both cross-country and track, visited the school in August.
The one trip was all the daughter of Robert and Casey Belford needed in choosing to join coach Reid Ehrisman’s program.
This fall, Ehrisman begins his third time around as Cougars’ head coach, after spending numerous years at the school as an assistant.
“I liked the school from the beginning,” Belford said. “I really liked the coaches and the facilities. Plus, it’s a Christian school; that was a big factor for me.”
Belford arrived in Rawlins after transferring from Bayard (Neb.), where she had a successful freshman season. Belford picked up where she left off, finishing fifth in 3A girls’ cross-country as a sophomore, fourth as a junior and seventh this season.
As a Cougar, Belford is expected to compete almost year-round. The Sioux Falls cross-country season runs close to the indoor and outdoor track schedules.
After training in rarified mountain air, Belford must acclimate herself to new surroundings.
“It is probably going to be different training at a lower altitude,” Belford said. “I guess I am going to see how things change.”
Belford credits Steinberg for challenging her during workouts.
“Coach Steinberg pushed me to keep running, even during the summer,” Belford said. “I think the All-State and All-Conference awards helped drive me to achieve higher goals, too.”
As with all distance runners, it’s often a challenge to keep getting better. Sprinters can outrun the competitor in the next lane, but the longer the race, the lonelier the workout can get.
Belford — who plans on majoring in pre-medicine, with perhaps a side concentration in Spanish — said Monday’s signing was the culmination of a vision she had for herself. And her future.
“I would say to anyone wanting to travel the same route can do it,” said Belford, who ranks second in the RHS Class of 2016. “You have to keep dreaming and stick with your goals. It’s worth it in the end.”