PLAY BALL — Springville-Griffith Institute graduate and Buffalo State senior center Seth Runge, left, is pictured, during a game played against Nazareth College. Photo used courtesy of Buffalo State Athletics.
SPRINGVILLE — Nov. 20 marked the beginning of the basketball season for Seth Runge, a senior center on Buffalo State’s basketball team.
Runge, a 2009 Springville-Griffith Institute graduate, scored his then-career-high 10 points, to open his senior campaign.
The Nov. 20 game against Hobart was the start of a career year for Runge, a three-sport athlete at Springville, who played football, basketball and baseball. “The first thing people notice, when they see me play now, as compared to high school, is the physical aspect of my game,” Runge said, about the difference between playing in high school and in college.
Heading into his senior year of high school, Runge tipped the scales at 320 pounds. To begin his senior year in the college ranks, he weighed in at 260.
“Losing 60 pounds helped me go from a role player coming off the bench to the starting center, averaging career highs in everything and even leading the conference in blocks, by a huge margin,” the athlete said, about his physical transformation. “People used to say that, when I ran, it looked like it hurt, so I decided to do something about it.”
Runge sought out Treo Sports & Fitness in West Seneca, to get in better playing shape.
“The trainers there gave me one-on-one basketball-specific workouts that covered strength, conditioning and my mechanics, that changed my life,” Runge said. “I saw amazing results in my speed, vertical and strength, but the lifestyle changes it brought were even more amazing.”
Treo Sports also helped the athlete plan healthy meals and designed a diet to fit his athletic lifestyle, helping him gradually eliminate problem foods.
“Working out was only half the equation. The other was diet,” Runge said. “Trying my best to eat a balanced diet and cut out unhealthy things, such as pop, is what took me to the next level.”
The athlete said that he has developed new facets of his game every year, since high school. Next on his list was the mental side of the game.
In 2011, Runge’s junior year, his team won the State University of New York Athletic Conference championship and advantaged to the Sweet 16 of the D.3 Tournament.
I approach the game with a much different attitude now,” Runge said. “Winning a conference championship and making it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, early on in college, allowed me to see the type of hard work and dedication required, to be one of the best. That experience is what really helped me decide to turn my game in a new direction.”
On the court, Runge scored 7.1 points, per game, this past season, an increase from the 1.8 he scored, as a junior.
During a Jan. 19 game against Fredonia, Runge scored a career-high 15 points, during Buffalo’s 87 – 85 triumph.
When playing in a following game, he reached the 15 mark again, against Brockport, while blocking five shots.
Runge said that a big part of his senior year was his increase in playing time. He averaged 19.5 minutes, per game, an increase from his 7.7 minutes, as a junior. The athlete said that, due to playing one year of traveling basketball and being a three-sport athlete in high school, he felt that he did not have enough time to focus on basketball.
“People say that, when you’ve played a sport long enough, the game will start to ‘slow down,’ so gaining basketball experience took time for me,” Runge said. “Personally, the game slowed down for me, during my junior year of college. One obvious reason ... is being in better shape, physically. Not having to worry about being able to make it up and down the basketball court allowed me to focus on the actual game.
“Playing college ball has allowed me to become a better student of the game and my basketball IQ has grown, because of it,” Runge added. “My growing IQ has allowed me to not need to focus on small aspects of the game, because they now come naturally and I can now read and react to different scenarios as they happen.”
Runge said that his confidence on the court is at an all-time high. “Whether I’m posting up on offense or anchoring our defense, I know I can execute,” he said. “This past season, the combination of confidence, knowledge and just the opportunity to play, is what allowed me be so efficient, on the court.”
Runge said that becoming a better student of the game allowed to him to also improve his defensive basketball knowledge. Runge led his conference in blocks, averaging more than two rejections, per game.
He blocked a career-high six shots on Jan. 15, against Geneseo, and then did it again, 10 days later, against Plattsburgh State.
Runge, a business major, is part of a small group of students who have graduated from Springville-GI and gone on to play four years of college basketball.
“It’s an amazing feeling, being one of a select few to play college basketball from our school and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, without everyone from Springville-Griffith Institute and the community,” he said. “It’s also special to me, because of the legacy my grandfather, Robert Ingerson, left on Springville athletics and I’d like to think that he’d be proud. I take great pride in playing college basketball and understand how lucky I am, to do so.”
Runge said that he also loves to work summer basketball camps, volunteer and give back, to the Western New York community.
The athlete’s college coach recruited Runge and has been the head man of the Buffalo State basketball program, for eight years. Fajri Ansari’s overall record at the helm is 99 – 82, including leading a trip to the Sweet 16, in 2011. Fajri has coached internationally and trained and coached Rwanda’s national team, as well as many university teams in Africa, in 1992.
“In high school, I was not the best player, attitude-wise, and this is my biggest regret,” Runge said. “The lack of respect I showed coaches and teammates not only hurt us in the win column, but really hindered my development as a player. No coach made a larger impact on my life than my college coach, Fajri Ansari. His passion, knowledge of the game and expectation of excellence will have a lasting influence on me.”
Runge played 88 games at the collegiate level and completed nearly 880 minutes as a Buffalo State Bengal.
The athlete acknowledged the help he received from many people, along the way. “My JV coach, Dr. James Velasquez, was one of my first coaches to make learning the game fun and, because we learned, we won.”
“My dad was the one that introduced me to basketball and both sides of my family are very athletic and competitive, so a love of sports came naturally,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my amazing parents. They’ve come to all my games since high school and are my No. 1 fans.”