By Ray Hamill — A stellar year on the local recruitment front for College of the Redwoods sports just got a little better.
And it hasn’t been limited to just one or two programs either, but rather is being felt across the board.
Last week, McKinleyville’s Owen Lien, one of the top prep track and field athletes on the North Coast, announced he will be taking his talents to the local community college after graduation.
It’s another coup of sorts for the Corsairs, who are getting the best 400 meter runner in the area and adding to a program that has been making more and more noise recently at the conference and even state meets.
And Mack head coach Rudy Garcia believes it’s a great fit for the outgoing senior standout.
“He’s going to have the opportunity to run with athletes that will push him,” Garcia said.
Lien is a two-time H-DNL champion in the 400m and believes he can accomplish both his academic and athletic goals at CR.
“Athletically, the coaches feel very confident I can break 50 seconds, which was a goal of mine this year,” said the senior, who timed a season best 50.98 seconds in the 400m earlier this season. “They think I can accomplish that next year with the program they’ll set for me.”
Lien is excited about the prospect of working with CR head coach Reed Elmore and his staff.
“I was going back and forth about colleges for a while and CR coaches Reed and Andre (Moodie) reached out to me,” he said. “It just felt like a really nice environment. I enjoyed the campus and they were a lot of help.”
The Corsairs emphasize sending their student athletes on to four-year schools, something Lien hopes to do with eyes on competing for Oregon Tech down the road.
Academically, he plans on majoring in Electrical Engineering, and says he choose CR in part because it gave him the opportunity to remain close to home as well being a very affordable option.
Garcia has no doubt the outgoing senior will succeed both athletically and academically, singling out his work ethic and ambition to succeed.
“He wants to go about things really professionally,” the coach said. “He’s always on time, always ready to go, and always does his best.”
The four-year varsity runner, who also placed second this season in the H-DNL in the 200m and was a part of two league-champion relay teams, has grown into a big leadership role in his time at McKinleyville.
“He really leads by example,” Garcia said. “He really just set the tone for the younger athletes.”
Lien says he will remember the fun times he spent with his teammates the most, as well as some of the life lessons he learned along the way from his coaches.
“I have nothing but good things to say about the coaches,” he said. “And probably what I’ll remember the most is the friends and coaches I ran with, and all the fun we had just messing around at practice.”