Roelle the last in line of All-Americans from Alaska for EOU

September 15, 2017

Rachel Roelle cross country track

Rachel Roelle

Eastern Oregon University cross country and track coach Ben Welch has a problem.

He’s running out of Alaskans.

The longtime NAIA coach has had incredible success recruiting runners from his home state, particularly two families – the Roelles out of West Anchorage and the Updikes from Ketchikan.

“I don’t specifically target certain families, but when there is a talented bunch or pair, I am more than happy to pursue that angle,” Welch told me.

Together, the Roelles and Updikes have produced five national championships and 17 All-American finishes between Hans Roelle, Isaac Updike and Lucas Updike.

Rachel Roelle is the last of the bunch.

She was an All-American in 2016 in the indoor 1,000 and enters her senior season looking to do even better.

“Rachel has high goals herself, hoping to earn All-American honors in all three disciplines this year [CC, Indoor and Outdoor], Welch said. “Mostly, I see my job to help her achieve those goals and help her stay healthy and get even stronger.”

Eastern Oregon University kicks off the cross country season this weekend at the Cascade Collegiate Conference Preview meet in La Grande, Oregon.

Rachel is one of three Roelle children to run for Mountaineers in addition to Hans and Andrea, who is no longer running and focusing on school.

“Hans had the best combination of speed and endurance, especially speed of the three, while Rachel is more on the endurance side of things, but blessed with good speed as well. Both are extremely tough competitors, especially come competition time,” Welch said. “Unfortunately, Andrea never really did get to fully explore her abilities for a variety of reasons, but we are happy she came out after about a three-year layoff and gave it a try.

“One aspect all three share is academic prowess as they are/were all very strong, focused students.”

Rachel has been a superb student throughout her education, earning multiple academic awards at the conference and national level, including NAIA Scholar Athlete recognition since she became a junior in both in cross country and track.

“Rachel is not an overly talkative person, but certainly has accepted a good deal of leadership duties, especially in leading by example as she is the most consistent athlete we have in training, racing effort and the classroom,” Welch said. “She also leads all our warm-ups, both in practice and meets.”