By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s Zach Gerleve is still hoping for a berth in the NCAA Division II national track and field meet, scheduled for May 25-27 at Emporia (Kan.) State.
Gerleve, a provisional qualifier for nationals for the third year in a row, threw a personal best of 197 feet, 8 inches on Thursday in the Abilene Christian Open. He earned a provisional qualifier status earlier this spring, throwing 196-4 in a meet hosted by McMurry University, also in Abilene, Texas.
A throw of 218 feet automatically qualifies someone in javelin, while 195 feet gives an athlete “provisional” status, ENMU track coach Eric Boll said. Gerleve, a junior from Truth or Consequences, is currently ranked 23rd in Division II.
Boll said the NCAA usually takes around 150 men and 150 women overall to the Division II nationals, and tries to fill events on a competitive basis. Last year, he noted that 17 athletes went in men’s javelin.
“They’ve taken more than that in the past, and they’ve taken less,” he said. “It just kind of depends.”
Gerleve, also a running back in football at ENMU, may have another chance to improve his lot on Thursday at McMurry University’s Twilight Meet.
New SID — After eight years in the position, ENMU sports information director Robert McKinley recently resigned his post to seek other employment.
The school has hired Adam Pitterman to replace McKinney, whose contract expires at the end of June.
Pitterman is currently the assistant SID at Division III SUNY (State University of New York) at Brockport. He is scheduled to begin around June 5, ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire said.
“The search committee was very impressed with him,” Maguire said, adding that three candidates were interviewed. “It was a unanimous decision to hire him.”
McKinney has worked at a number of colleges and universities over the past 20 years. He is currently interviewing for other SID positions.
“It’s been lots of fun,” he said of his time at ENMU. “I’ve met a lot of really great people here.
“I’m looking to remain in the sports information field. I’d really like to move to a larger community, or at least nearer a larger community.”
Community service — ENMU football coach Mark Ribaudo said members of his squad have racked up more than 5,000 volunteer man-hours of community service in the Portales-Clovis area during the 2005-06 school year.
The players were divided into teams of 8-10 people, and competed for points. The top two teams, captained by linebacker J.J. Ortiz and running back Fide Davalos, were recently treated to a steak dinner cooked by the coaches at First Baptist Church in Portales.
“We want to give back to the community for the support they show us,” Ribaudo said. “Performing community service projects gives our players a chance to get to know people, and a sense of perspective about what’s important.”
He said among other things, projects included helping kindergartners at Brown Elementary to read, talking to students in Clovis elementary schools about “good choices,” manual labor at Cannon Air Force Base and picking up trash along roads.
“It was an amazing experience,” Davalos said. “We got to know the kids as little brothers and sisters, and they got to know us as people. We really looked forward to visiting with them each week.”