February 27, 2008

Unlikely path leads to big success for track's Ehrke

Elizabeth Ehrke

Earning All-American honors as a track and field standout wasn't something Elizabeth Ehrke planned on when she began her college career. Nonetheless, it became a reality for her last season, and she has now set the bar for herself for years to come.

Ehrke started out her career at Case Western Reserve as a swimmer, where she competed in the breast stroke and sprint relays, making it to the University Athletic Association championships, and was a member of the fifth place 200-yard freestyle relay team.

"I did well as a swimmer, but I fell in love with throwing when I was in middle school," the sophomore from Pewaukee, Wis., explained. "Someone told me that my upper body strength from swimming could possibly make me a good thrower."

Not only did she become a good thrower, but Ehrke exceeded her expectations by re-writing the record books for the Spartans last season.

Ehke finished no higher than second place in the discus in any regular-season meet last season, but her throw of 42.65-meters at the University Athletic Association championships last season set the tone for the Allegheny College Invite, where she qualified for a spot in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship, receiving one of the two spots available.

"The whole experience was pretty amazing," Ehrke said. "Whoever got the right throw at the right time when the wind might have died down at a little bit was probably going to be successful that day."

Fortunately for Ehrke, that person was her, as her throw of 44.02-meters was tops by nearly two-meters, earning her a trip to Oshkosh, only an hour and 30 minutes from where she grew up in Pewaukee, Wis.

"As soon as the throw came off my finger-tips I knew it was going to be amazing," Ehrke said. "There weren't many big numbers coming up because of the wind, so the day was kind of a wait-and-see to determine where I would end up."

At the NCAA Championships, despite the heavy winds yet again, her dream became a reality, as Ehrke finished eighth-of-19 competitors, earning her All-American status. Her showing made her the first All-American in outdoor track and field at Case Western Reserve in over a decade.

"I went into the finals ranked eighth or ninth, so I knew I could get knocked out fairly easily," Ehrke said. "It was a whirlwind of events, but the next thing I knew I was running up to the podium."

Considering Ehrke, a 2007 and 2008 UAA All-Academic honoree, came to University Circle with the intentions of studying engineering physics and being on the swim team, her accomplishments as a thrower in track and field are certainly something that has got the attention of her teammates, coaches, and many people in the Case Western Reserve community.

"I definitely have higher expectations for myself this year," Ehrke said. "We're getting enormous amounts of work done this year under (first-year head coach Steve) Rubin and we've set the goal as the national championship."

For more information contact Creg Jantz, 216.368.6517.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, February 27, 2008 11:14 AM | News Topics: Athletics, Case School of Engineering, HeadlinesMain, Students

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