BW Multi-Sport Standout Emily Oliver Seeks to Return to the NCAA DIII Championships this Spring
Oliver is provisionally qualified for the
NCAA heptathlon in late May.
Special by Eddy Jansen ‘13 to the Sports Information Office
BEREA, OHIO -- After placing 15th in the five-event pentathlon at the 2010 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field National Championship Meet in early March, Baldwin Wallace University junior Emily Oliver (Waynesburg/ Sandy Valley) has a burning desire to run, jump, vault and throw her way back to this spring’s NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championship Meet.
Oliver has good reason to point toward the 2010 NCAA Div. III National Meet as it will be held at BW from May 27-29 at The George Finnie Stadium in Berea, and she’s qualified to participate, but right now, she’s qualified provisionally.
Oliver earned her provisional qualifying status last weekend, April 2-3, at the Liberty University Collegiate Invitational in Lynchburg, Virginia. At Liberty, Oliver scored a career-high 4,130 points and had three personal-records en route to placing fourth individually. Overall, Oliver has set six outdoor-bests this spring, including a 27.26-second timing in the 200-meter dash, a 2:27.11 timing in the 800-meter run, a 15.99-second timing in the 100-meter hurdles, a jump of 15-feet, seven and three-quarter inches in the long jump, a throw of 93’11” in the javelin and her heptathlon point total at Liberty.
“At the indoor national meet, I learned more about my self-discipline and how to put things [her performance in the previous event] behind me quickly,” said Oliver, who carries a 3.7 grade point average in chemistry and is a two-year letterwinner in track and cross country. “When one event was completed, whether it went well or poorly, I was able to recollect myself and focus on the next event.
At Liberty, I put that focus into action and it worked really well,” said Oliver, who was joined at Liberty by senior decathlete Steve Price (North Olmsted) who qualified for the national meet automatically. “It is just another step toward a goal. I’m already looking forward to the next time I get to compete in the heptathlon and hope I can improve my score even more.”
According to Oliver, discipline is what separates the capable from the victorious.
Oliver placed 15th at the national indoor
pentathlon in early March.
“With the heptathlon being two extra events (the indoor pentathlon is one day and five events and the outdoor heptathlon is seven events over a two-day period) with a whole night in the middle really requires mental toughness,” continued Oliver. “The heptathlon requires a lot more resilience; there’s a great opportunity for PR’s (personal records), but there’s also possibilities of setbacks. The experience at the indoor national meet will definitely help me to deal with this aspect.”
And, what does Oliver think about competing at the NCAA National Meet on her home track?
“I am really excited to have the opportunity to compete at my own school, in my own stadium and on my own track,” said Oliver. “I like the fact that I can sleep in my own bed and my meet preparation will not be disrupted. Being able to compete before my home crowd and having a few of my teammates also competing is just exciting.”
In addition to Oliver and Price, senior All-American discus (outdoor in 2009) and weight (indoor) thrower Kevin Phipps (Patsakala/ Watkins Memorial), junior All-American shot putter (outdoors in 2009 and indoors in 2010) Greg Patrick (Collins/ Western Reserve), freshman discus thrower Mitch Supan (Medina/ Walsh Jesuit) and junior 800 meter specialist Kim Chinn (Zanesville/ West Muskingum) are already qualified either provisionally or automatically.
“Emily has grown as a person so much in the past three years,” said veteran Head Coach Dr. Bill Taraschke, who has led 48 Yellow Jacket teams to Ohio Athletic Conference titles in cross country and track during his 26-year career. “She excels both in the classroom and on the track and is involved on campus. We are so proud of her because she works so hard to be a good student, teammate and leader.”
Oliver has always been an outstanding student and athlete and is just beginning to reach her potential according to BW Multi-Event Coach Eric Schmuhl.
“Emily has consistently progressed toward becoming a national caliber heptathlete,” said Schmuhl, in his second year back at his alma mater as the main assistant under Taraschke. “She has improved her marks without bias toward one particular event. Just as her hurdle times have fallen, her shot put and 800 meter marks have improved. The type of training required to achieve this balanced improvement is very difficult to manage, but she does it well.”
Oliver also knew that she owned the potential to be an elite track competitor in multi-event competition. The combination of coming from a family of competitors, her father, Roger, has participated in a number of marathons, including the renown Boston Marathon, and her sister, Erin ‘08, also participated in cross country and track.
“I come from a family that likes to run,” said Oliver, speaking of her father and sister. “My dad looks at running as working toward a goal. He looks at the marathons and races that he competes in as a reward for all of his training. I also look at it that way too.”
Oliver also feels that each of her coaches in high school and now at BW have contributed to her success.
“During high school, my coaches told me they thought I had high potential, although I did not compete in a state meet,” said Oliver, who is one of the vice presidents of enrollment for the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority on campus. “When I came to BW, the coaches here said the same thing, and I wanted to see for myself what I was capable of accomplishing.”
The family aspect also played a role in Emily Oliver choosing BW collegiately.
“BW actually was not one of my top choices,” said Emily. “My senior year of high school, I thought I might want to attend pharmacy school and was nearly committed to another school. When I decided I wanted to study chemistry, my options broadened.
“My sister was a junior at BW at that time,” continued Oliver. “I came to visit her and was introduced to the college. I knew having a year here with her would make me feel more comfortable, and she was able to share with me good things about both the academic and athletic programs.
“I knew that I wanted to participate in track and field and cross country at the time, but the first time I ever spoke with Coach Taraschke wasn’t until the day I moved onto campus for my first semester. I am happy here and cannot imagine myself anywhere else. My memories and experiences both academically and athletically have been some of the best. The track program is outstanding and one of a family atmosphere that I cannot be any more proud to be a part of.”
Schumuhl returned to BW during Oliver’s sophomore year and believed in her from the start.
“Her strength is in the hurdles, high jump and sprints,” said Schmuhl. “Her weakest event has been the javelin, but she has more than doubled her mark since her freshman season, so progress continues to be made. When you don’t come from a background of volleyball, basketball or softball, the striking action of any throwing event is tough to learn.
“Even though Emily has scored a career-high 4,130 points, I feel the field will be very deep this year and it more than likely will take a score of 4,300 points just to get into the national meet. Emily is definitely capable of reaching that mark.
“Her track IQ is one of the best I’ve ever worked with and it shows in practice and competition,” continued Schmuhl. “Her ability to understand what her body wants and needs to better her practices and competitions is very unique. She has built her routines around those instincts.”
“I used to be one who always listened to and did whatever a coach wanted without question,” said Oliver, who will join her Yellow Jacket teammates this Saturday, April 10 when they participate at the annual Marv Frye Invitational Meet at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. “But now, I ask myself why do we do things the way we do. I have learned the relationship between power, strength, and speed based practices by routine and question.”
Erin Oliver also thinks her sister has a special ability to adapt and compete.
“Emily never gives up and somehow understands that it will be worth it in the end,” said Erin Oliver, who is a chemist for PPG Industries. “Whether she is training for a race or struggling to understand her chemistry material, she works tirelessly and consistently to achieve her goals and master that skill.”
That is where her ability to use her time management skills are key.
“I have to manage my time efficiently between academics and athletics,” said Emily Oliver. “Academics are my first priority with track close behind, so I often make worthwhile sacrifices of social activities.
“Following graduation, I hope to obtain a career in the chemical industry,” continued Oliver. “With a chemistry degree, I would enjoy working in a lab or performing research. I am undecided as to a specific area of chemistry I would like to focus on right now.”
Before that happens, Schmuhl and Oliver have a few more things to prove.
“Emily is proof that in NCAA Division III athletics, an average beginning student-athlete who comes into a program can earn a spot in the national championship field through hard work and passion for their event,” said Schmuhl. “Emily came to BW with a very average track resume and has exhausted all means necessary to become an NCAA qualifier.”
With May 27-29 as her focus, you can bet that more good things will happen for Emily Oliver.
In addition to the NCAA National Meet at BW, the Yellow Jackets host the annual Paul “Sparky” Adams Invitational Meet on April 24 in Berea. Field events begin at 10:00 a.m.