Russ Strande, a long-time Brookings High School coach and charter member of Prairie Striders Running Club, was named the 2022 Friend of Running on Saturday in a ceremony held after the Prairie Striders Indoor 5K.
Strande is the 16th recipient of the Harvey Mills Friend of Running Award presented by Prairie Striders. Strande received the award from Jacob Mills, grandson of Harvey Mills, who was a longtime club member, an accomplished runner and major contributor to the club’s 2018-19 scholarship drive.
Strande was among 12 guys who gathered in the basement of the Barn on the SDSU campus Sept. 12, 1969, to begin the running club. He served as the club’s second president in 1971. He was an active competitor in Prairie Striders races, area races and national races. He completed the Brookings Marathon four times and the Jack 15 ten times. The 10- and 20-mile Sunday morning training runs in the 1970s -1990s started at his home.
Strande is a 1952 graduate of Volga High School where he was an all-around athlete and is a member of the 1,000-points basketball honorees.
He graduated from General Beadle (now Dakota State) and Northern State colleges. He taught and coached at Brookings High School for 27 years (1969-86). In addition to coaching football and basketball, Strande was head cross country coach for 24 years and head track and field coach for15 years.
South Dakota officially started girls cross country in 1975 with Strande as the sole coach for both boys and girls until his retirement in 1995.
His teams won the State AA Girls Cross Country Championships in 1980, 1981 and 1983 and State AA Girls Track & Field Championships in 1979 and 1980.
Strande coached Bobcat athletes in cross country and track and field that won 27 individual and 13 relay state championships and nine Eastern South Dakota championships. He was South Dakota Coach of the Year for Girls Track in 1978, Girls Cross Country in 1982 and the 1982 South Dakota Girls High School Coach. Strande also was nominated for National Coach of the Year three times. He is a member of the South Dakota High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
The Brookings High School Cross Country Invitational was started in 1980 and renamed as the Russ Strande Invitational in 2002.
He was a longtime volunteer as a track umpire for SDSU. Strande and his brothers were known as valuable track umpires for decades at Brookings, major high school state meets and SDSU meets. In addition, he officiated high school football and basketball.
Strande served with the U.S. Army in the 1950s and is a retired member of the South Dakota Army National Guard who served in the 1991 Iraq Operation Desert Storm.
Strande and his late wife, Shirley (2017) had four children — Keith, Karlene, Curt and Kent.