April 30, 2009
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
Forget the usual freshman acclimatization period in collegiate athletics. Eastern Washington University track and field athlete Michelle Coombs is already cementing her name into the EWU record book.
Coombs, from Hermiston, Ore., is already eighth all-time in the javelin with a mark of 148-3 that she recorded this past week at the Oregon Relays. The personal-best mark helped her finish fourth at the meet, and earlier in the season she had qualified for both the Big Sky Championships and the NCAA West Regionals.
But Coombs is multi-talented, and also competes in the grueling, seven-event heptathlon that takes place over a two-day period. In the first collegiate heptathlon of her career two weeks ago at the 51st Annual Mt. Sac Relays/Combined Events in Walnut, Calif., she finished 13th out of 36 athletes with 4,438 points to rank fourth in school history.
Coombs, along with her teammates, will be competing Friday (May 1) in the 38th Pelluer Invitational at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. Field events will begin at noon, and the running events will begin at 4 p.m. (the 10,000 meters has been added to the schedule and starts at 3 p.m.)
Coombs is scheduled to compete in the javelin (noon), as well as the shot put (approximately 4:30 p.m.), high jump (approximately 4:30 p.m.) and a leg on the 4x400 relay (approximately 7:30 p.m.).
Q: As a freshman, how has the track and field transition been from high school to college?
A: "Some things about it have been hard and others not so hard. One of the tougher things was just getting used to new ways of doing my events. But as far as the new team and coaches, it wasn’t too bad at all. I haven’t adjusted to everything yet but I’m getting there."
Q: You seem to be improving your javelin mark every meet, why do you think that is the case?
A: "I would say it’s just because I have learned so many new things this year. One of them is having to change my form so I go down before I go back up. I just have to think of it like a being a freshman in high school again. Every meet my throws are going a little further and it has a lot to do with just figuring little things out. Now I just have to wait for it all to come together."
Q: You recently competed in your first heptathlon, and scored enough points to place fourth in school history. How was that?
A: "I really didn’t know where I stood going into it -- I just took each event as it came at me. I am pretty happy with how it turned out but I know my marks will go up as I learn how do to some of the events more consistently."
Q: What are your goals for the remainder of the season? What about for your career?
A: "I really have knocked out the big season goals already. I hit the conference and regional qualifying marks, so those were some big ones. It’s my freshman year so I try not to put too much pressure on myself. I think I will compete better that way -- it’s a learning year. As far as career goals, it’s what most track competitors want and that’s the Olympics or at least the Olympic Trials. I just want my marks to keep improving."
Q: What is one interesting fact about yourself that not too many people know?
A: "I never wear matching socks!"
Q: What is your favorite event and why?
A: "My favorite event is javelin -- that’s always kind of been my baby. I am just learning hurdles and I really enjoy them too!"
Q: With the Pelluer Invitational coming up Friday, what advantages are there to competing on your home track?
A: "I would say it will be more relaxing. I will be more used to the facilities like the runways and things. It’s also nice not having to travel -- that always takes a little out of me."
Q: What is your favorite aspect of EWU?
A: "I would say the track aspect of it, getting to travel and compete. I really enjoy my teammates as well."
Q: Coming out of high school, what led you to choose EWU?
A: "My high school coaches had been pretty involved with EWU and talking to the coaches, and Kersee Lind (also from Hermiston) was just finishing his freshman year last year. So they all had good things to say about EWU and thought it would be a good fit for me. I came for a visit and pretty much knew this was the place for me -- it just seemed to fit."
Q: What is your dream job and why?
A: "This changes fairly often. But right now I would say counseling at a high school and coaching, or maybe a college coaching job. I love the sport and would love to stay around it."
Q: Who has been your favorite professor so far at EWU?
A: "Dr. (Scott) Finnie because he always seem so enthusiastic just to be there and to teach us about something he loved. He was always full of energy."