June 6, 2008
Mattie Bridgmon of the Eastern Washington University track and field team will make her bid for All-America honors when she competes in the 5,000 meters at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Championships (June 11-14) in Des Moines, Iowa.
"We're stoked for Mattie," said an overjoyed EWU distance/cross country coach Chris Zeller. "`Stoked' is official coaching terminology."
Bridgmon will be competing in the preliminaries of the women's 5,000 meters Wednesday (June 11) at 6:10 p.m. Pacific time. The finals will be Friday (June 13) at 7:15 p.m. Pacific time.
With EWU's commencement ceremonies on Saturday (June 14) at 9 a.m., it could create difficult travel arrangements for her as she is scheduled to receive her bachelor's degree in exercise science. But she won't mind facing that problem as her goal is to qualify for Friday's finals, with the top eight American finishers in that race earning All-America status.
"She will be graduating from Eastern on the 14th, so this is the perfect way to go out," said Zeller. "How sweet would it be for her to be representing Eastern Friday night, the night before graduation."
Bridgmon, a 2005 graduate of Laramie High School (Wyo.), is making her first appearance at the national level in track and field. However, she advanced to the NCAA Championships in cross country last fall, finishing 64th.
She is currently ranked 23rd out of 27 in the 5,000 with a time of 16:33.60, which is a new school record set at the Oregon Relays earlier this season. Currently ranked first with a time of 15:11.88 is Sally Kipyego from Texas Tech.
"Mattie came to EWU as a walk-on three short years ago and is leaving as a competitor in the NCAA National Championships in cross country and track and field as well as having earned a degree," added Zeller. "She's certainly come a long ways."
The top four finishers in each heat advance to the finals, as well as the next four fastest times. More information on the event, including results and broadcast schedule, can be found at: http://www.godrakebulldogs.com/
"She'll be the first to say that there are no shortcuts or easy ways to that kind of success," added Zeller. "She's done it through really hard work and being consistent with it every day. It's a very clear blueprint all of her younger teammates can follow. As for Nationals, qualifying is thrilling, but we want all of that hard work to pay off once more and for her to run a really strong race."
Eastern has had five All-Americans in its history at the NCAA Division I level (indoors and outdoors). Carolee Gutierrez finished eighth in the javelin (161-10) in 2007 and Kari McKay placed fourth in the 10,000 (35:18.15) in 1992. On the men's side outdoors, Ryan Cole in 2001 placed eighth in the javelin (223-3) and Greg Jones took second in the high jump (7-3) in 1986. Eastern's only indoor All-American was Kurt Kraemer with a triple jump mark of 52-1 3/4 to finish ninth in 2001.