Proving to be a college student first with a 3.97 grade point average as a double major, Santa Clara senior trackster Kevin Oliver became just the second-ever NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Preliminary qualifier today. Oliver, who ran a personal best 29.47.08 in the 10,000m to qualify, will compete in the prelims of the NCAA West Region Championships in Austin, Texas May 23-25. The NCAA Championships are in Eugene, Ore., June 5-8.
His race in the 10,000m will be contested in Austin at 7:40 pm Pacific Thurs., May 23.
Oliver, who has set a new personal best in every event he's competed in this spring, boasts to school records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and also graces the top 10 list in the 1,500 meter run.
Santa Clara's first NCAA qualifier was Michael Delaurenti in 2008 in the 3000m steeplechase. Throughout that season, Delaurenti steadily improved his steeplechase time in order to qualify for the big race at NCAA West Region Championships. At the Brutus Invitational in April, 2008 he finally reached his goal, running a personal best and qualifying for the NCAAs at 9:06.84.
Frequently in the first row at many Bronco sporting events throughout the school year, Oliver's quick wit is evident in his quote on making the race and throughout this season's personal bests. ""I'm thrilled by the opportunity to compete at the West Regional," said Oliver. "It's great to see the work we've put in this year paying off, and I plan on attacking the competition like Raymond Felton attacks a box of muffins."
Oliver, Santa Clara's Senior Academic Award Winner, carries a 3.97 gpa in Economics and Political Science. Oliver will be attending Law School at the University of Chicago next fall. "He did this all while running as much at 100 miles a week and countless hours of supplemental training in addition to all the miles he has put in," said Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro. "On top of all of that, he has probably managed to have the most fun of anyone in the program. A consummate student-athlete, Kevin represents the best of Santa Clara and I can't wait to see how he takes advantage of the opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships."
Oliver ran a personal best at Mt Sac Relays in April 22 to post a qualifying mark for the NCAA West Region. Mt. Sac, historically a fantastic venue for distance performances, set the stage for Oliver's performance, which knocked 61 seconds off former Bronco Rory O'Flahtery's 1985 record.
"I could not be more proud of Kevin," added Montoro. "Coming in to this season, Kevin had a 5000m personal best of 15:00.08, and this year ran 29:47.08 for 10000m, a mark that automatically qualified him for the NCAA West Region Championships. That kind of improvement can only be achieved through singular focus, sacrifice and hard work, things Kevin has been quietly grinding away at these last four years. He has been relentless and disciplined in his approach from day one."
The always entertaining Oliver summed up his race experience best, noting that he "lunged at the opportunity for a new best like a sick meerkat going after a zinc-enriched shrew."
Oliver isn't alone on his team as an academic wiz. The men's cross country team led the Bronco men's teams with a 3.244 GPA during the Winter 2013 quarter. It was the sixth straight quarter they have led the men's side. They also have the top cumulative GPA at 3.303 as well.
"Our team's continued academic success is a testament to the amazing learning environment fostered here at Santa Clara, and the tremendous work ethic and pride our athletes take in always trying to achieve their personal best, be it on the track or in the classroom," said Montoro.