Eric Boll believes he is making progress in trying to build a track program at Eastern New Mexico University, but he knows the Greyhounds and Zias are battling steep odds.
Unlike most of its Lone Star Conference counterparts, ENMU isn’t that close to larger areas of population. And it also is competing against schools which are able to draw significant numbers of international athletes.
“We’ve got three teams in the conference that are fully funded in Tarleton State, Angelo (State) and Abilene (Christian),” said Boll, in his third year as coach since the program was restarted at the school. “They’re all recruiting internationally now.
“Our recruiting base is a little different. We try to recruit locally as much as we can, and most of our team is from New Mexico and west Texas.”
ENMU competed in two indoor “unattached” meets at Texas Tech about a month ago, meaning the athletes have to travel and compete on their own and not under the school banner. The first of several unattached outdoor competitions is scheduled for Saturday at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and Boll said the majority of his roughly 60 athletes will participate.
The first of five school-sponsored meets on the schedule, including the LSC championships in late April, will be the Tarleton State Invitational on March 31.
Both ENMU squads finished last in the six-school 2004 LSC meet, but doubled their point totals from the first year, Boll said.
“If we can do that this year, we’re going to be in contention to beat somebody,” he said. “We’re maturing and we’re getting better.
“I’m a realistic guy and I understand where we are. I’m not disappointed in the direction we’re headed.”
ENMU’s top performers last year were sophomores Ricardo Hernandez of Carlsbad and Zach Gerleve of Truth or Consequences.
Hernandez accounted for half of the men’s 28 team points in the LSC meet, finishing second in the 5,000 meters (15 minutes, 38.89 seconds) and third in the 10,000 (33:31.51). Gerleve, meantime, placed a close second to Angelo State’s Adam Phillips in javelin with a throw of 178 feet, 9 1/2 inches — losing by less than a foot and throwing about 15 feet shy of his season best.
“That was the only time last year that he didn’t win,” Boll said. “I think he should win it this year.”
Another potential point-scorer is Clovis junior Warren Nuckols, who finished eighth and just out of the scoring in that event in last year’s LSC meet.
“Barring injury, I think we can put together a couple of relay teams this year that will be competitive,” said Boll, who also serves as a football assistant at ENMU.
Among the top performers for the women are juniors Jayme Williams (discus) and Lynnae Chavez (5,000 and 10,000), and sophomore Rachel Loya (javelin and hammer). Williams was sixth in her event in last year’s LSC meet.