Walker gets academic award, points to close out Rio Grande track career

Published 11:27 pm Saturday, May 7, 2011


Tribune Sports Editor

RIO GRANDE — Four seems to be the operative number for Rachel Walker.

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The University of Rio Grande two-sport standout completed her college track career with another pair of 4s.

Rio Grande joined the Mid-South Conference last year, thus making her eligible for all-academic honors four times since she was playing two sports.

Walker made it 4-for-4 as an all-academic honoree last Friday at the MSC track and field banquet.

Then at the MSC meet, Walker was entered in four events to try and help the RedStorm women earn more points.

Walker placed in all four events as she finished third in the hammer throw, seventh in the high jump, sixth in the discus and ran the anchor leg on the 4×100-meter relay team that placed fifth with a 52.18 time.

Walker was joined on the relay team by Hillary Haines, Haley McSurley and Kayla Graves.

“I haven’t high jumped since high school,” said the former Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers three-sport standout. “We put the four-by-one together the week before but our track was under water for awhile and we couldn’t practice that much.”

“I would have liked to have finished higher, but I really just wanted to get points for our team.”

Rio Grande head coach Bob Willey said he remembered seeing Walker high jump in high school and asked her to do it for the league meet.

“You can ask any coach here and they’ll agree Rachel is the best athlete on the campus,” said Willey. “She has thrown well for us, but her best event might be the (4×100-meter) relay.”

Rio Grande’s women finished a strong third place with 111 points while the men’s team took fourth place. Willey was impressed with the teams’ success since rainy weather hampered their practices all spring.

“I know every coach wants to win, but you have to put things in perspective, too,” said Willey.

“I felt early in the year that we weren’t going to beat anyone the way we were performing. To do what we were able to accomplish these last two days is just a great compliment. I praise our athletes for a job well done.”

Rio Grande’s Cassie Mattia won the 800 meters with a MSC and school record time of 2:17.20 and teammate Kim Strunk won the shot put and discus. Rio’s Tracie Brown was first in the hammer.