Duran and Ludwigson Do it All for Eagles

Jan. 23, 2007

Story and Photo by Brandon Hansen

Bo Jackson played two sports. So did Deion Sanders. Both were considered great athletes.

Now meet Eastern Washington University freshman Jessica Duran and senior Matt Ludwigson. Duran plays five sports. Ludwigson plays seven.

Both athletes won their respective multi-event competitions during the 20th Annual Jerry Martin Invitational on Jan. 20-21 to kick-off the indoor track season. Duran scored 3,032 points in the pentathlon to rank as the sixth-best performance all-time at EWU. Ludwigson scored 4,712 points in the heptathlon -- just three points behind the 4,715 he had last year that ranks second in Eastern history.

"It's very demanding both physically and mentally," said EWU men's head track coach Stan Kerr. "You have to cope with terrific performances and not so terrific performances."

Duran won the women's pentathlon after placing first in three of the competition's events -- the 55 hurdles, the high jump and the shot put. Ludwigson also won the men's heptathlon after winning the long jump, the shot put and high jump. He also tied for first in the 55 hurdles and the pole vault.

Talk about versatility.

"We have a five minute rule," said Kerr. "If you have a bad performance in one event you have five minutes to think about it and then 25 minutes to get ready for the next event."

Duran and Ludwigson are not your normal kind of athletes. Not only do they have to have the brute strength to throw the shot put, but also have the swiftness to be in the jumping and sprinting events.

"You're trying to find that optimum blend of speed and power," said Kerr. "We try to get a practice design that matches the meet."

Multi-event athletes practice two or three events a day, trying to match the rhythm that a decathlon or heptathlon demands.

"It puts quite a bit of stress on the body," said Kerr. "It's not unusual for a couple of athletes to drop out of the competitions."

Ludwigson has proven his toughness as an Eagle. This is his fifth year at Eastern and he looks to make a big splash in the conference despite injuring his groin last spring.

"He's one of the hardest working individuals on the team," said Kerr. "He serves as an inspiration to the rest of the team."

It was seven months since Ludwigson had competed and he was getting a bit uneasy.

"He was chomping at the bit," said Kerr. "But he's been to the Big Sky Championships. He's a fifth year senior -- he's been here before."

There are high expectations for the senior as he expected to compete for the Big Sky Championship in the heptathlon. Duran too is expected to be a big player in the pentathlon, but the difference with her is that she was in high school a year ago.

"Jessica is a quick study," said Kerr. "She will without a doubt hold the school record in the pentathlon when she leaves here."

While the WIAA does not have a sanctioned multi-events competition, Duran was the State 4A champion in the 300 hurdles and also competed in the 100 hurdles and the shot put. She is a 2006 graduate of Kent-Meridian High School in Kent, Wash. -- the same alma mater as EWU standout basketball player Rodney Stuckey.

"We knew she was a good multi-event athlete," added EWU women's track head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. "You need to be a good sprinter to be a good pentathlete. She is a well-rounded athlete and we knew what she could do."

Much like Ludwigson, the expectations are high from the coaching staff.

"She's been training since we started in the fall," said Mecklenburg. "Even though she won the event, we're expecting a whole lot more."





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