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The Tough Collegiate Road

The Tough Collegiate Road
The 2012 Stanford Invitational featured several athletes that have traveled different paths on the roads to success.  When the top recruits select their five official NCAA visits, they seem to be in a position of power, control, and comfort.  Years later some find themselves attempting to rebuild their dominance on the track.  Universities show their best sides during visits, but the reality and rigors of college track and field leave athletes sometimes longing for another change.

Chris Derrick, from an outsider's view, is having a smooth career at Stanford.  Despite ups and downs with injuries, Derrick has earned All American honors each season and is on the verge of closing his collegiate career as an all-time great.  All is well for Derrick, beating Lawi Lalang at 1500 meters on Friday and showing sharp form at the shorter distance.

Two other athletes, Ashton Purvis and Jantzen Oshier, have travelled different paths while still being full of potential.  In 2010, Purvis was the best high school sprinter in the country.  She ran 11.17 and 22.90 to win the 100-200 double at the California State Championships and was named the national track and field athlete of the year.  She headed to the University of Miami but was not heard from in 2011.

Injury held Purvis out for a full year.  She choose to return to coach Curtis Taylor, move back home, and enroll at Laney Junior College in Oakland, CA.  While some could see this as a setback, Ashton is close to her speed of 2010.  At this weekend's Stanford Invitational she earned double victories with times of 11.43 and 23.43.  Purvis appears pleased with her current situation and excited about her decision to come home.

Janzten Oshier, one the the top milers in the nation in 2011, is now at Humboldt State in northern California after facing eligibility issues at the University of California.  He is in the hands of a good coach in Scott Pesch at Humboldt.  One major difference between Oshier and Purvis is that his college change did not return him home.  Rather, he is over 500 miles from home.

This is not to say that Oshier cannot succeed.  Rather, he is pleased with his team, respects his coach, and likes the school he attends.  The challenge is the transition.  In our interview he spoke about working through the transition into college life and maybe not having the resources available at a larger school.  Hopefully the 4:00 1600 will not loom as a heavy expectation, and  patience to develop will be the priority in a new program.

The talent of Derrick, Purvis, and Oshier is supreme.  They are three of the best high school runners I have ever seen.  All three have been asked to be patient as collegiates for different reasons.  Chris Derrick did it when injured.  Now Purvis and Oshier are working through challenging phases, and there are many reasons to be optimistic about their careers.  Chris Derrick makes it look easy.  Oshier and Purvis seem to face tough odds, but fortunately have landed in situations that help them improve.
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