By Lindy Steeves
The coming of spring brings a multitude of runners hitting the streets of La Grande as athletes from Eastern Oregon University begin their outdoor track season.
After their third meet of the year in Spokane, Head Coach Ben Welch is positive about the group of athletes that are returning to the field.
“We have a good group of hard working individuals who we hope can come together as a team and finish the year strong.” Welch said.
His optimism is well-founded as this year’s outdoor track team is full of returning All-Americans from previous years and from this winter. Isaac Updike in the steeplechase and Brooke Randall in the javelin are returning from last year.
Talissa Baldovino, Ryan Booth, and Hans Roelle are returning All-Americans in the 800 from the indoor season this winter. Karlee Coffey in the 5k and 10k, and Asa Miller in the high jump are both returning All-Americans from 2011.
Welch also has high hopes in several of the throwing competitions, including Brian Wickman, Carson Hendryx, and Pancho Saldane.
This optimism, however, doesn’t come without goals and hard work from the team.
“As a coach and as a coaching staff, our main goal is always to challenge the athletes to attain new levels in all they do.” Welch said, “We also hope to challenge for conference titles and have a strong showing at Nationals.”
Welch isn’t the only one on the team who has goals to attain this year.
Senior Talissa Baldovino said, “I would love to run 2:10 in the 800 meters at nationals and get another All-American title. I am happy with the progress I have seen the last three years and this is the year to bring it all together and show what I can really do.”
A handful of track meets lie between now and the end of the outdoor season, giving the athletes ample time to train and ready themselves for the culmination of their season. With all of the returning talent and a handful of promising upstarts, the EOU outdoor track and field team will run at Nationals in Marion, Indiana the May 23-25.