Tigard track stars ink their college letters
TIGARD — Lauren McFall and Lauren Paven are both in the middle of an exciting senior season for the Tigard High School girls track and field team.
But their futures are also exciting.
And they made that official last week.
McFall and Paven signed their collegiate national letters of intent last Thursday, in front of a large, supportive group of friends, family, teammates and coaches during a ceremony held at the school.
"This is very exciting," Paven said after signing her letter of intent to run for the University of Idaho, located in Moscow, Idaho. I've waited so many years for this moment to sign with a school, and Idaho is definitely the place for me."
McFall signed to compete for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
"I'm so excited," McFall said. "It's going to be a big journey, moving far away, but, it's L.A. Who can't be happy about moving to L.A.?"
Paven, a star sprinted for the Tigers, said she'll likely be running in the 200 and 400-meter dashes at Idaho.
"It's going to take lots of mental preparation," Paven said of competing at the college level. "I definitely think it will be an adjustment. I think mentally, and physically, I'll adjust, and I 'll have fun, but I think that college track is just stepping up to the next level, and it's just harder work."
She's certainly put in the hard work at Tigard, with impressive results.
As a freshman, it appeared that she won the state title in that event at the Class 6A state track and field championships, only to be disqualified for stepping on the lane line. But, as a sophomore, she wasn't going to be denied, as she ran to victory at the state meet in a time of 56.24 seconds. Last year, she finished second at state to Newberg's Madison Hergert.
So far in her senior season, as of Tuesday, Paven ranks second in the state in both the 200 (25.26) and the 400 (57.16).
And, it sounds like she'll be looking to have the same type of success at Idaho.
"Ever since freshman year, this has been the plan," she said. "And it's so beautiful there. I love it. They treated me like family. When I went to visit, I really felt that way. And the track program itself is truly amazing. There are so many amazing people, and I just think I'm going to be successful there."
McFall will be throwing the javelin at UCLA.
"I went on the campus, and it felt like home," she said. "The coaches there, the team, the environment were all great. And academically, the school is very highly regarded. So it was a lot of factors that contributed and, honestly, no other school came close to the feeling I had when I was there."
McFall's javelin coach at Tigard, Erik Smith, is a former javelin standout at UCLA.
"Growing up with Smith as my coach, I'm really excited for this," McFall said. "He was instrumental in everything. I started working with him when I was in eighth grade, and that year I improved 30 feet. And the support he has given me throughout the years has been incredible. He's one of the most trusted people in my life."
Two summers ago, McFall won a Junior Olympics national championship in the javelin, triumphing in the ages 15-16 division, at a meet held at Sacramento State University.
She's had to deal with injuries at Tigard, but, as a sophomore, she placed seventh in the javelin at the Class 6A state championships. So far this season, as of Tuesday, she is in the No. 5 spot in the Class 6A ranks with a throw of 127 feet, 11 inches.
"I'm looking to finish my season strong, and get some momentum going into next year," McFall said. "I'm going to hit the weights hard this summer. The biggest thing will be improving my strength over the offseason."
At UCLA, McFall will be throwing with current Bruin freshman Ilaria Casarotto, from Vicenza, Italy, who is the only javelin thrower on the roster.
"She's awesome. All of the throwers are super supportive," McFall said. "My favorite part of my visit was going with Ilaria to get sushi at 10:30 in Westwood, and then we Ubered over to the Santa Monica Pier, and it was so fun."