TERRE HAUTE —
If college is supposed to help you grow up and mature by exposing you to new experiences, it hasn’t taken Vincennes University freshman TaPring Goatee long to find those things waiting for her.
The 2013 Terre Haute North grad took individual top honors in the women’s race at the Franklin College Sodexho Grizzly Invitational earlier this month with a time of 19:20 during her collegiate debut.
However, the thing that has helped her to mature most involved someone she didn’t even know.
“College, to this point, has been a period of emotional, as well as intellectual growth,” Goatee said. “My personal win at the Franklin Meet quickly turned into a bittersweet triumph when one of my competitors collapsed and later died.
“I was quickly reminded that although education is my priority and running my privilege — life is to be given great consideration.”
Goatee did not win her second meet, the Eastern Illinois Walt Crawford Open, but was 11th overall and the top non-Division I runner among the 138 participants in a time of 18:45.37.
Goatee broke into the high school ranks in a big way during her freshman year at North by winning the state championship.
The remainder of her prep career didn’t reach those heights, but she is now poised to work on cutting her times and advancing at the collegiate level.
“While high school competition is more localized, college competition expands into a higher level in comparison,” she said. “The ‘best of the best’ come together to compete at this level. That competition creates the desire to improve my time and raise my personal times, both in and out of competition.”
She is looking forward to the Indiana Intercollegiate Meet in Bloomington on Friday as another opportunity to test herself.
“A lot of my high school teammates have gone to other colleges, and we will have the opportunity to compete on a level different than we have ever experienced,” Goatee said. “We have grown from teammates to competitors, each representing our own colleges.”
Coach Chris Gafner is thrilled to have Goatee as such a dominant member of his 12th-ranked Trail Blazer squad, and thinks the sky is the limit for her.
“TaPring has made a great transition into college running,” Gafner said. “She is starting to position herself as one of the top runners in the NJCAA. The sky is the limit if she keeps working hard and stays healthy.”
Goatee is enjoying herself and is confident that even better things are ahead for her in the future.
“I feel strongly that VU is a stepping stone to the rest of my life,” she said. “Running is a part of who I am and I pray it will always be.”
• Lough promoted in GSU shakeup – Trent Miles’ first Georgia State team football team has started the season at 0-3, and he appears to be in a situation similar to that when he took over Indiana State’s program.
In its first year at the FBS level, the Panthers lost their opener 31-21 to Samford, lost their second game 42-14 to Chattanooga and were defeated 41-7 last Saturday at West Virginia.
Following the Chattanooga game, in which GSU rushed for just 30 yards, Miles reassigned running backs coach Tony Tiller to another position within the athletic department. Replacing Tiller was Brock Lough, the former Terre Haute South and ISU standout who was in his first year as a graduate assistant coach.
“We had some young guys in their second college football game and they were learning how to handle it,” Miles said after the Chattanooga game. “And then [there were] some guys that have been around and haven’t had success who are probably more fragile than the young guys.”
Two starting offensive linemen left the team after the Chattanooga game.
“We are still trying to get the right guys on the field who give great effort and play hard at all times,” he said. “To play for us, you have to put it on the line every play, every down.”
Other familiar faces on the GSU staff are graduate assistants Ronnie Fouch and Johnny Towalid, who both starred under Miles at ISU.
Miles is contemplating a quarterback change among many personnel changes for this week’s game against Jacksonville State.
“It could be guys that are already on the team,” he said of those who might find their roles increased. “It could be a walk-on here or there who is giving great effort.”
• Etling tourney MVP — DePauw sophomore Mary Kate Etling was named the most valuable player as the Tigers went 4-0 last weekend to win their own invitational tournament.
The Terre Haute North grad had 10 kills and four block-assists in a win over Marietta, nine kills, two digs and three block-assists against Olivet, six kills, one dig and three block assists against Trine and 11 kills, five digs and two block-assists against Rose-Hulman.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.