ASHLAND, Ore. — Eric Avila won an NAIA National Championship in the 1,500 in May. It was his last race as a member of the SOU track team, but Avila hasn’t stopped running. He ran in a few races this summer, highlighted by a tenth place finish in the finals of the US Track and Field Championships.
“That was intimidating,” Avila said. “That was probably summed up the whole weekend, very intimidating. That was probably the biggest thing I was trying to keep in check, was to keep everything calm and know that I’m there for a reason because I deserve to be there, but yeah, great experience. There was only positives from that weekend.”
Avila is no longer an official member of Southern Oregon University, but this summer he’s been proudly wearing his college colors.
“I was happy to wear the Southern Oregon University and I actually chose to when I went to Canada on the pro tour,” Avila said. “I didn’t have to do that but I wanted to.”
That’s going to change soon. Avila is getting ready to begin his professional racing career. He plans to hire an agent soon. He’ll work on getting a shoe contract and joining a professional track team. He’s already been talking to Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene,as well as others, and he’s trying to find the best fit.
“I would say I’m a free agent right now,” Avila said. “You want to look for a team atmosphere. You want to look at the training because you want to keep the ball rolling so you want to see if they do the same kind of thing you do. It’s a lot of fun but it is very stressful.”
Regardless of where he wins up, Avila is grateful to have this opportunity, one he got from the outstanding senior season he had with the Raiders.
“I joked with my coach this year saying that I think we said about eight or nine times this year that, oh this is the biggest race of your life now,” Avila said. “And then I would do well and I would get in to a bigger race and then a bigger event and then as the year went on it seemed like the stadium was bigger than there was the previous time and there was more fans than the previous race but I’m glad it worked out and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”