News From Terre Haute, Indiana


March 22, 2011

Liz Evans: One down, five to go?

Rose sophomore seeking more national high-jump titles

TERRE HAUTE — Liz Evans does not believe in jinxes.

So she doesn’t mind admitting she would like to become the first six-time national champion in the history of Rose-Hulman athletics.

A runner-up in the women’s high jump in the NCAA Divison III indoor and outdoor championships as a freshman in 2010, Evans cleared 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches to earn first place in the 2011 indoor nationals March 12 at Columbus, Ohio.

That’s No. 1.

“I jumped consistently the entire year,” Evans told the Tribune-Star during the Rose-Hulman Early Bird Invitational outdoor meet Saturday. “So for me, a 5-7 3/4 is kinda what I expected, although I wanted to go higher.”

The Rose sophomore missed three attempts at 5-8 3/4 — barely knocking the bar over with her foot on the second try at that height — she said.

Now Evans must turn her attention to the future, where there’s a possibility of five more Division III national titles — including the 2011 outdoors May 26-28 at Delaware, Ohio.

“For the next five times, yes, I want to win [national championships],” she said without hesitation.

Previous Rose-Hulman national champs were Chris Trapp (outdoor men’s javelin throw in 1984, 1985 and 1986) and Ryan Loftus (indoor men’s pole vault in 1997 and 1998) in track and field and Matt Smith (men’s 100-yard breaststroke) in swimming.

Rose assistant coach Matt Cole, who works with Evans regularly, prefers she take the “one day at a time, one meet at a time” approach.

He did say, however, that Evans can jump “as high as she wants to” as she gets older.

Asked what she can she do to improve over the next two-plus years, Cole replied: “Get stronger.”

“A lot more lifting [in the weightroom],” he explained. “I mean, she’s going to grow and she’s going to mature even more. She’s only a sophomore. She’s only 20. Here in the next couple years — if she stays with it, if she stays consistent in her training — she’ll be a young, fit lady.”

Evans and Cole think 5-10 is a realistic target for the 2011 outdoor season, which continues for the Engineers on Saturday with the Hanover Invitational.

“I do want to increase my height,” Evans noted. “I would like to see a 5-10, but I’d have to jump a 5-9 before then and a 5-8 before that.”

“The month of May is going to be a crucial month,” Cole emphasized. “That’s probably when we would see 5-10 … after a few good weeks of hitting the weights and staying consistent.”

Over the years, Evans has demonstrated a knack for making gradual improvements.

As a senior at North Knox in 2009, Evans tied for fifth in the girls high jump in the IHSAA state finals with a leap of 5-6. As a junior in 2008, she placed sixth with a 5-5.

“When I came here, I didn’t expect to be this good,” Evans acknowledged. “But I worked very hard … and it has paid off.”

Having competed in several field events and played soccer at North Knox, she’s more specialized now.

“Liz was a very good high school athlete,” Cole mentioned. “We knew her best event would be the high jump. So when she came here as a freshman, our goal was to let her focus on the high jump and we worked on improving her already-existing God-given talent in that event.

“She had an excellent freshman year. She gained a lot of confidence, both indoors and outdoors, and that confidence showed [in the recent indoor nationals]. This time, she was a different young lady. She had a lot of confidence. She knew she could perform and she went out and did it.”

Evans still likes to dabble in other events when possible, proving that Saturday by long-jumping a school-record 17-1 1/4 to place first and set a school record.

Oh yeah, she also high-jumped 5-5 to provisionally qualify for the outdoor nationals.

A double major in math and electrical engineering, there’s little doubt that Evans will be able to land a high-paying job when she graduates. But she might delay that for a while if her athletic career goes the way she hopes.

“I think it would be awesome to continue with high jump and, if I get good enough, try to get into the Olympics,” Evans said.

That would be an improbable development, considering the innocent way she discovered the sport seven years ago.

“It was toward the end of my seventh-grade year and the only reason I tried it was because my brother [Ben] jumped,” Evans recalled. “He was one of those cool eighth-graders and I thought, ‘Sweet, if he can jump, maybe I can.’ My first jump was at 4 feet and I cleared it with no problem.”

She added that even if she had missed 4 feet, she would have tried at least a few more times.

Who knows? That kind of determination might help Evans crash through the 5-10 barrier sooner rather than later.

“She is just so committed with the day-to-day training routine that her and Matt have developed over the past two years,” stressed Rose-Hulman head track coach Larry Cole, father of Matt Cole.


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