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Erin Pasch '22 clears a hurdle

Back on track

Four days after crossing the commencement stage in Greencastle, Erin Pasch ’22 will compete on the final and biggest stage of her heptathlon career: the 2022 Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

That won’t leave much time for post-graduation relaxation, but Pasch appreciates the moment she finds herself in. Her time at DePauw wasn’t always going to end this way.

Pasch was what assistant track and field coach Peter Crary describes as a “decent high school athlete” when she arrived in 2018. But a college heptathlete she was not. Not yet, at least.

“It was a huge transition for her,” Crary said. “Learning how to hurdle is not easy. Learning how to throw a javelin is not easy. The high jump is not easy. So there was a lot of work to do.”

Those hurdles extended into the classroom. Pasch came to DePauw with plans for dental school, but her early grades were falling short. She entered her first summer wondering whether she might have to focus on school and leave track behind. Then a comment from Crary sparked something inside her.

“I remember him saying at one point that no one had ever actually gotten through his summer workouts,” Pasch said. “I kind of took that as a challenge.”

As both Crary and Pasch describe it, when Pasch returned that fall, it was as though she’d flipped a switch. Crary remembers one meet in particular when Pasch lined up for a race against a field that didn’t expect much from the DePauw sophomore. She trailed at first, then hit another gear, shocking them for the win.

When COVID hit that spring, Pasch dug deeper. “I think where some athletes took the opportunity to do nothing, she took the opportunity to work even harder,” Crary said.

The results are clear. Pasch now holds the DePauw and NCAC records for the heptathlon and enters her final competition ranked first in the nation.

Crary and Pasch review training video togetherCrary and Pasch review training video together at Blackstock Stadium

As for her academics? Next fall, Pasch continues her studies as originally planned at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. For that, she also gives credit to her coach.

“He has been a really good accountability partner for me,” Pasch said of Crary. “I feel like the confidence and accountability I gained through track ended up showing in the classroom.”

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