CEDARVILLE — While a crowd of Cedarville University dignitaries, fellow students and friends made a fuss over sophomore runner Carsyn Koch at Tuesday’s send-off party in the Callan Athletic Center lobby, Yellow Jackets track and field coach Jeff Bolender waited patiently outside.
It might the only quiet he’ll have for a little while.
Bolender and Koch thanked the well wishers, hugged their friends and then drove off in a Cedarville University van to catch a flight to the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field, which will take place June 30-July 10 in Eugene, Ore.
Throughout the college outdoor track and field season, Bolender specifically had Koch competing in some of the nation’s top events. It was a way for his prized runner to acclimate herself both to the competition and the crowds.
“We intentionally have taken her to quite a few big meets,” Bolender explained. “She’s run the national meet three times, which she qualified for, she’s run at the Texas Relays, and at the Mount SAC Relays in San Antonio, and she ran at Stanford University. So she’s had big races to go to, and that’s why we did that. She’s good and she needs those experiences.
“Hopefully those experiences will help her a bit, but they’re nothing like what it’ll be like to run in the Olympic Trials.”
Koch is the reigning NCAA Division II national champion in both the 800-meter college indoor and outdoor seasons, and was recently named the Great Midwest Athletic Conference’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Her 800-meter time of 2:02.39 at Stanford’s Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. earned her a fourth-place finish against an international field, qualified her for the Olympic Trials and established a new NCAA Division II outdoors record.
Koch said it’s taken a great deal of effort to get to this level in her career.
“It takes sacrifice. It takes a type of thing where you don’t always get to do what you want, and you don’t always get to eat what you want. There are definitely times when you don’t want to workout, but you have to do it anyway because those little things all add up to a bigger perspective,” Koch said. “For me, it just took a lot of building my confidence, building my training and really listening to what my coaches told me to do (in order) to make it to this point. If you’d have told me a couple years ago that I’d be here (competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials), I would’ve thought that you were crazy. But it’s funny how you end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. Your hard work will payoff in the end.”
There are 37 runners who have qualified for the Olympic Trials in the women’s 800-meter run. Koch’s seeding time places her in a tie for 27th in the field. According to the teamusa.org website, the top three finishers in each track and field event will be named to the Olympic team provided that each has, by the end of their event at trials, achieved the applicable qualifying standard.
There will be other area athletes competing this week in Oregon as well:
Heptathlete Chantae McMillan was a recent guest at Saturday’s Learn To Row Olympics Day event at Eastwood Lake in Riverside. She trains in Kettering and is ranked seventh in the U.S. Trials Heptathlon field with 6,112 points.
Former Ohio high school track and field and cross country champion and Middletown native Jeff See has the seventh fastest time (3:36.70) in the men’s 1,500-meter run.
And just south of Eugene in the state capital of Salem, Beavercreek’s Susan Randall (1:45.55) and Fairborn’s Jill Cobb (1:46.23) will be competing in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk final. The race walk events are the only ones being held outside of Eugene, Ore.
The racewalk final is set for 10:31 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday; Koch’s first-round preliminary heat in the women’s 800 run is at 4:45 p.m. Pacific on Friday; while McMillan’s first Heptathlon event (100-meter hurdles) is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Pacific on July 9. See’s first round of prelims for the 1,500 takes place at 7:21 p.m. Pacific Time, July 7.