EOU'S 'SUPER SEVEN'
Seven Eastern Oregon University athletes are in Johnson City, Tenn. this week to compete in the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships.
Qualifying for nationals were senior Shawn Trimble (Elgin) in the pole vault; senior Dirk Bortz (Bonners Ferry, Idaho) and junior Adam Cooper (Riverbank, Calif.), weight throw; senior Ian Schroeder (Milwaukie) and sophomore Nate Hendricks (Cashmere), 1,000-meter run; freshman Talon Jayo (Baker City), 55-meter dash; and freshman Emily Booth (Clackamas), high jump.
EOU head coach Ben Welch took 10 Mountaineers to the national meet a year ago.
"We have a little higher seeds (this year)," Welch said. "We have two ranked in the top six."
Those two are Trimble, who is seeded No. 1, and Bortz, who is a fourth seed.
Bortz and Schroeder qualified for nationals last season, and Trimble competed there two years ago. Trimble was red-shirted for the indoor season last year.
If Trimble and Bortz, or any of the other EOU athletes, finishes in the top six they would achieve All-America status. Trimble is a former All-American.
Trimble went into outdoor nationals last year ranked No. 1 and finished second in the vault.
"The guy who beat him outdoors has jumped just a half inch lower (indoors)," Welch said. "We're expecting quite a battle there."
Trimble's best indoor height is 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches. He's cleared 17-1 3/4 outdoors.
"He's (Trimble) been able to get outside with this nice weather and is getting a full approach .... He has several people right on his heels," Welch said.
Bortz's best effort in the weight throw is 56 feet, which has moved him up the ladder from being ranked 16th.
"He has the potential to throw a little bit farther. With 35 pounds at the end of your arms a lot of things can happen," Welch said.
Cooper's best heave has been 51-10, and he went in seeded 17th.
"If he can put some things together maybe he can pop it out there a few more feet," Welch said.
Schroeder is seeded 10th in the 1,000 meters, having clocked a 2:31.98 this season. The third seed has run just 1.3 seconds faster.
"He's certainly capable of that," Welch said of Schroeder, who battles asthma. "It (the 1,000) doesn't seem to bother him as much (as the mile). He has very good finishing speed."
Hendricks is ranked 12th in the 1,000; his season best is 2:32.34 getting him to nationals by a hundredth of a second.
"There is definitely room for him to drop time. He's going to have to have a good day," Welch said. "He needs to run a stronger and more consistent race."
Jayo is seeded 19th in the 55-meter dash. He qualified with a 6.99 seconds in the 60 meters, and that time was converted to a 6.48 in the 55 meters.
"He's been very competitive all year. He's made it to the finals in every meet," Welch said. "If he runs a tenth of a second faster it's a whole new ball game .... It's the transition getting to full speed that's holding him back."
Booth has cleared 5-3 in the high jump to qualify, and she goes in seeded 21st. Her lifetime best is 5-5.
"She's figuring some things out about her approach the last few weeks," Welch said. "I'm pretty pleased where she's at right now."
The NAIA national meet began Thursday and continues through Saturday.