By Ray Hamill — Ferndale’s Grant Van Emmerik never thought he would get the chance to represent Humboldt State.
At least not in track and field.
But the 2016 Wildcats graduate recently joined the Lumberjacks family, keeping his talents on the track here on the North Coast after a couple of very successful years at College of the Redwoods.
“He has a huge upside,” CR head coach Reed Elmore said of the 400 meter specialist, whom he believes will set records at HSU. “If he keeps on the same trajectory, it’s going to be huge.”
Van Emmerik is a relative novice at the sport, having never competed in track in high school.
A football, basketball and baseball standout for the Cats, he joined the CR baseball team after graduation, but his career on the diamond was cut short when he suffered a rotator cuff injury.
“The baseball coaches told me about him, and they said he was fast,” said Elmore, who recruited Van Emmerik to the track team. “And he was fast. He was track fast.”
The former Wildcat immediately took to the new sport, setting a school record in the 400m (48.18 seconds) while at CR.
“Competition has always been something I strive for, and so it was kind of easy in that way,” he said of the transition to the new sport. “It’s all you in track, and that’s something I immediately liked.”
The move to HSU came about after Van Emmerik opted to switch his major to forestry.
“It just so happens that Humboldt State offers one of the best forestry programs in the country,” he said. “That, plus I like staying pretty close to home.”
And so far, it’s been an enjoyable transition.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve been meeting a lot of people, and it’s nice being on campus. You get the real college feel.”
Elmore believes the move will be a good one for both his former athlete and the Jacks.
“He’s just a good kid and he does what he’s told,” the CR coach said. “He’s a good teammate and he gets along with everyone. You can’t ask for a better kid.”
Elmore also believes the sky’s the limit for Van Emmerik, and that the only reason he didn’t get a lot of looks from D-I programs is because he’s still so new to the sport, while the pandemic has made it tougher for recruits with established athletes getting an extra year of eligibility.
“We know he has a huge upside, but it’s hard to prove that,” the coach said.
The good news is that Van Emmerik will get the opportunity to compete against the top athletes on the West Coast while at HSU, which regularly matchups up against bigger schools in the sport.
“Right now, I’m just setting my goals high and I’m really going to try and make nationals, and try to make a name for myself,” he said. “And try to set a record or two at the school.”