DIII Week: More Than Just a Game for Runge

Apr 9, 2016

Junior middle hitter Anna Runge led the Iowa Conference in blocks in 2015, while leading by example in the classroom and community.

*This is one of a handful of stories on UD student-athletes and their experiences at the Division III level in honor of Division III week (April 4-10)

Part I: Track's Blaze Murfin (Former D1 Recruit)
Part II: Softball's Andrea Smith (CC transfer)
Part III: Basketball's Jessie Kirkwood (Medical Adversity)
Runge's 2016 Stats
DUBUQUE, Iowa - Volleyball is just another piece of the puzzle for junior middle hitter, Anna Runge, who has taken full advantage of the opportunities the Division III life has to offer.

After choosing the small school path, Runge has been a defensive anchor on the court, an ace in the classroom, and a reliable leader in the community.

Initially, the Iowa Conference’s block leader in 2015 and two-time Academic All-Conference honoree saw UD as an opportunity to continue her volleyball career while earning her degree.

“Out of high school, I had it narrowed down to UD or a bigger Division I school near Chicago,” said the Davenport, Iowa native. “I made the decision to come to Dubuque and Division III because I wanted to play volleyball at an intercollegiate level.

“You’re exposed to so many different environments and I decided I wasn’t ready to give up the idea of being part of a team, making friends, and travelling.”

Runge has done just that while providing a versatile threat at the net over her first three seasons. The junior has played a total of 99 matches, leading the team in blocks twice while totaling at least 140 kills each season in helping lead the Spartans to an IIAC tournament berth each year.

Her success and love of the game turned into much more thanks to tight-knit relationships and an enthusiasm to try new things.

“I hadn’t really thought about the other activities I’d be involved in,” admitted Runge. “The biggest thing about going Division III, your class sizes are smaller and I have so much one-on-one time with my professors that have developed into comfortable relationships.”

“Because of that, I’ve turned into someone they can count on and when they need people or need help with something they’ll ask me.”

Reliable has been the operative word, but Runge, a 4.0 biology major, has become more than just a student they can count on.

A Dean’s List regular, Runge has become a take-charge academic with a budding resume:
Wendt Character Scholars Program, Wendt Character Student-Athlete, Honors Program, Women in Science program, Web of Life Environmental Awareness club, Alpha Chi national honors society, Chlapaty Research Research Fellowship, Chemistry Outreach high school tutoring, Student Ambassador, and Chlapaty Recreation and Wellness Center work study.

“I knew going to either school that there was going to be something that I loved, but I never dreamed that coming to college I’d be a part of multiple clubs and multiple different research aspects,” said Runge.

“It’s really cool to be a part of everything.”

Complexity is her forte as the Wendt Scholar researches subjects covering Orchid genomes and Dendrobium orchids, but the junior brings out her simpler side while spending time in the community. Much of her volunteering mirrors her experience in the Division III setting as she introduces new possibilities to others.

“In volleyball, we do a couple service projects a year as a team,” added Runge. “But a lot of the community service stuff I do is with younger children, whether it’s tutoring in chemistry or working at the after school program and playing games.”

Runge has kept herself busy, even in the summer, assisting at a children’s therapy center back home and running a bike camp to teach kids with disabilities how to ride bikes and become self-sufficient.

After UD, Runge plans on attending PT school to turn her dream job of becoming a pediatric physical therapist into reality.

“I love watching kids get new experiences and get excited about it,” said an enthusiastic Runge. “It’s fun to watch them learn and grow and that’s what I love doing.”

Whether winning with her teammates, researching with her classmates, mentoring her kids, or all three, Runge credits her Division III experience for providing the ultimate opportunity: “connecting with others”.

“Being at a small school you make so many friends,” said Runge. “Meeting new people is something that has definitely helped me create connections with others and has given me a great opportunity to find myself somewhere positive in the future.”