Kyle King has a debt to pay.
The former indoor 5,000-meter conference champion has never scored for the EWU men’s track and field team at an outdoor championship meet. This season, he is looking to make amends.
King said he has been on a scholarship for a long time and anyone who is should be scoring points for the team at championship meets – something he has never done running outdoors.
“My freshman year, I was a freshman. Sophomore year, I had mono,” said King, who after graduating this spring is headed to the University of Oklahoma to run in a different shade of red. “This is my first year fully healthy and ready to roll, so I need to pay some debts this spring.”
This outdoor season may be the perfect opportunity because conference standout Diego Estrada – a five-time track and field All-America selection from Northern Arizona University – is redshirting.
Currently, King has the second fastest time in the 5,000 – the 14 minute, 10 second mark was an outdoor personal record and is the third fastest time in school history. But his best event is the 10,000, where he already owns the school record.
“Kyle [King] has shown he’s one of the best in the conference in longer races,” said assistant coach Chris Zeller. “[He’s] going to run a 10K next week at [the] Mt. Sac [Relays]. … That will hopefully set him up well to win the conference.”
King is not the only distance runner expecting to contribute in a major way. Senior Bowe Ebding, along with sophomores Tim Pettit and Jordan Curnutt, have all qualified for the Big Sky Outdoor Championships in Bozeman, Mont., May 9-12.
Pettit and Curnutt have the third and fifth fastest conference times in the 800. Both reached the qualifying mark March 31 at the Montana Al Manuel Invitational, in Missoula, Mont.
In that meet, Pettit set a personal record of 1:52.06 in the 800, but the mark came at a cost.
“I did something to my hamstring, just doing strides the day before. And it just got really tight on the inside. I didn’t really think anything about it. I just ran through it,” said Pettit. “I went in to talk to Shawn [Edgerly, an assistant athletic trainer,] afterwards, and I guess my hips were out of placement. It caused extra tension on my right hamstring.”
For Pettit, taking two weeks to rehabilitate the hamstring was a setback and a frustrating experience.
“That actually really, really sucked,” said Pettit. “Just being in the best shape of my life and then not being able to do even track workouts for a week.”
Pettit is slowly working his way back and expects to be at full strength soon.
He will need to be fully healthy to reach his goal of achieving all-conference, something Pettit and Curnutt missed at the 2012 indoor championships.
Entering the final meet of the indoor season in Flagstaff, Ariz., Curnutt was seeded third and Pettit fourth in the 800, however, neither finished in the top eight.
“At 7,000 feet, … they just kind of blew up and really ran pretty horribly,” said Zeller. “They have a little bit of a chip on their shoulders this spring. They want to prove themselves. We expect both of them to be battling for top five and ideally top three.”
Like King, Ebding has qualified for the championships in the 5,000, but the senior’s focus and best chance for an all-conference performance is in the 10,000.
With a personal record of 30:56.84 in the 10,000, Ebding hopes that this season he can break the 30 minute mark. Either way, Ebding knows he is headed to Bozeman for his last Big Sky Conference Championships.
“It’s been a lot of miles, a lot of work and it’ll be really interesting when that’s all said and done. It’ll be really emotional, I think.”
For now, though, Ebding is enjoying his final season.
“We got a good group of guys, really fun group of guys, motivated and putting in a lot of good miles, putting in a lot of good work,” Ebding said. “It’s going to be really tough to walk away from.”