Buffalo State men's basketball coach Fajri Ansari remembers his decision to recruit Seth Runge out of
Springville-Griffith Institute High School as one that was openly questioned.
"I remember when I went to see him, people told me he's a big guy out in Springville," Ansari said about
the 6-foot-8 Runge. "Some people said, 'He's not going to be able to play. He's big, but that's it.'"
Four years later, Runge is playing semi-pro basketball for the Buffalo Warriors, and it's apparent that
Ansari is the beneficiary of having opposing thoughts about Runge's prospects and recruiting him to play
at Buffalo State.
Signing a paid contract in March after making the Warriors, who started as a program in 2011, is a
byproduct of the hard work exerted by Runge during his career.
"Coming in as a freshman at Buff State I was out of shape, I was really slow, and to see the
transformation from freshman year to senior year was huge," Runge said. "And then to see it actually
pay off to where somebody wants to pay me to play basketball, that's amazing, that's a great feeling as
Runge was a contributor all four years on the basketball team, but his capabilities were fully exhibited
this past season when he was a senior co-captain. Runge converted from a player coming off the bench
his first three years into a starting center who had a noticeable impact on the floor. During his senior
year, Runge nearly quadrupled his career per game averages in points (7.1) and rebounds (6.0), while
leading the SUNYAC with 51 blocks.
"I lost like 40 pounds over the offseason so it really changed my whole game around," Runge said. "I was
a much better player and I could contribute a lot more on the court this year."
A conditioning program plotted out by Ansari helped Runge shed the weight. The newfound facets of his
game have lent themselves to Runge making the Warriors, who play an independent schedule and their
home games at the Fairgrounds Event Center in Hamburg.
"I looked at what his possibility could be and I knew what I could offer him but it had to really be up
to Seth and if he would be willing to do it," Ansari said of Runge's development. "To his credit, he did
that. For somebody who's at that stage and playing at Division III and now he's actually playing at a
professional level, he needs to be commended and I'm proud of him."
Just over midway into the season with the Warriors, Runge has played a comparable role to the one
he filled for the Bengals his senior season. He plays around half of every game and provides a physical
presence as the team's tallest player.
The business administration major's development on the court has played a substantial role in
extending his playing career beyond Buffalo State. But it is his budding leadership qualities that helped
his advancement as a player, and are proving to be more worthwhile than his basketball skills.
For the last year, Runge has served as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. It is a
group consisting of student-athletes who work with an executive board to act as the governing body of
student-athletes and accommodate their welfare.
During his tenure as president, Runge's allegiant work hasn't gone unnoticed by his peers. He has been
instrumental in advocating for the recent athletics fee increase and organizing community service
events like last Thursday's 10th annual Kids Night Out, which gives local young kids the opportunity to
interact and play sports with student-athletes on campus.
"Seth got really involved. It's a great leadership opportunity for him and he has stepped up and seized
the moment," said Meg Stevens, SAAC advisor and lacrosse coach. "It's not easy to be president of our
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. It's a lot of work and he has really filled that role very well."
Runge joined as a member of the committee his freshman year, when he was basically thrown into
the role when none of his teammates were willing to join. He has since embraced the opportunity.
Being the president of the SAAC ministered Runge to become a better player and captain, thus further
supplementing his character.
Largely because of his work with the SAAC - which Runge said significantly strengthened his resume
- companies in the senior's field of business have expressed active interest in hiring him upon his
"I feel like I'm a much better communicator," Runge said. "Public speaking is the best thing it's helped
me with, but just communicating and delegating power and learning how to treat everybody with
respect really helped me on the court and off."
Though he receives payment for being on the Warriors, Runge noted he truly plays for the enjoyment of
the game. It's a parallel mindset that has allowed him to flourish, amidst a hectic agenda, as a student
and an athlete.
"I went in kind of with the mindset of 'I get to play basketball after college, so I can't complain,'" Runge
said. "Money's not really my objective right now. I'm just having fun playing basketball.
"I don't get as much sleep as I would like but I'm having enough fun where I don't really notice," Runge
added. "Where the basketball is an escape from school, senioritis is finally starting to kick in. SAAC,
especially Kids Night Out, is a lot of fun. There isn't anything I'm doing right now that I don't really enjoy.
... I just have fun with everything I do so it's not that hard to get caught up in it."
Aaron Garland can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AA_Garland.