Monday, July 12, 2010

University of Colorado is Jessica Pixler's next destination...

After winning 12 NCAA Division II championships during her four years at Seattle Pacific and graduating on June 13, Jessica Pixler (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com), one of the most decorated track and field athletes in Falcon history, will take her NCAA post-graduate scholarship to the University of Colorado and run one season of outdoor track for the Buffs, passing up an opportunity to run professionally at least until after the 2011 collegiate season.

Pixler has that single year of outdoor eligibility remaining because she missed the 2008 outdoor season at SPU, and the Olympic Trials, with stress fractures in her back.

“At the time (of her injury in 2008), it was hard to see the reason for why it happened,” Pixler said. “But now, everything has worked out in a way that I didn’t expect.”

Pixler, who earned her degree in English at SPU with a 3.93 grade-point average, will pursue her masters in curriculum and instruction for grades K-12.

“She’ll have good teammates to train with on a regular basis, and the races she runs here will be pretty good races,” Colorado head coach Mark Wetmore said. “Day to day, her competitive level will grow.”

Added Pixler, “I really got a sense that the coaches want to invest a lot of time to help me achieve my goal. That really means a lot to me, because that’s (also) what I experienced at SPU.”

Although Pixler currently is a resident of Sammamish, east of Seattle, she was born in Englewood, Colo., about 30 miles southeast of the Colorado campus in Boulder. She moved here with her family at age 7. Her parents both ran track for the Buffs (dad Jeff was an 800-meter man; mom Nancy specialized in the 1,500).

In a conversation paulmerca.blogspot.com had with longtime SPU coach Doris Heritage at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, Heritage emphasized the family tradition that Pixler had with the Boulder school.

“I was kind of looking at a couple other schools, But I think the big thing for me was I really have a family tradition there,” Pixler said of choosing Colorado. “Most of my aunts and uncles went there. I took my visit there and it went really well. I really liked the coaches and the team.”

Pixler raced in Boulder at the 2007 USA Junior Cross Country Championships, finishing tenth, just ahead of future Husky Mel Lawrence.

NOTE: The sports information office at Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

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