'This kid is a hurdler'
Tyler Rohde is the best hurdler in Alaska.
He proved that last year when he set a state record in the 110-meter hurdles at the ASAA Class 4A State Track and Field Championships.
Now, the Chugiak senior will get to see how he stacks up against the best in the country.
Last week, Rohde signed a letter of intent to run for California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo’s NCAA Division I track program.
“I’m ecstatic,” Rohde said after signing the letter in front of his family and fellow Chugiak High track team in the school’s auxiliary gym April 4.
While Cal Poly’s track team was enticing, the architecture program is what attracted Rohde to the school.
“It mainly struck my architecture fancy,” he said.
Meeting with head coach Mark Conover cemented Rohde’s decision.
“He cared about who I was,” Rohde said. “I wasn’t just another face.”
All of Rohde’s success stems from his work ethic, said his hurdle coach Rafael Echavarria.
“He always gives 100 percent,” Echavarria said. “He loves what he does and it shows.”
Rohde constantly seeks to lower his times, Echavarria said.
“He likes to improve as much as he can,” he said.
Echavarria said Rohde has made huge strides in the two years he’s worked with him.
“His mechanics, flexibility and speed have improved,” Echavarria said.
Training with Bartlett senior Taj Showalter has also helped.
“They feed off each other,” said Bartlett coach John Paul Huffer, who’s worked with Rohde the past three years.
Rohde trains at Bartlett two days a week with Showalter — his biggest competition.
Working out together benefits both athletes, Echavarria said.
“Those two are going to help each other run faster times,” he said.
Huffer noticed Rohde’s knack for running hurdles during his sophomore season.
“I told his dad, ‘This kid is a hurdler. And he’s gonna be a really good one,’” Huffer said.
When it comes to competing, Rohde only has one speed, Huffer said.
“He doesn’t know slow,” he said. “He just goes with no regard for his body.”
Rohde — who also won the 300 hurdles, ran a leg of Chugiak’s winning 4x400 relay team and was named the 4A boys Most Outstanding Athlete of the meet at state last year — said he simply loves hurdles.
“It’s something I found so much joy in,” he said.
Running will also provide him with an outlet at college, he said.
“You got to have a way to blow off steam,” Rohde said.
Running D-I has been one of Rohde’s goals, and he intends on making the most of his opportunity.
“It cannot be taken lightly,” he said.
Rohde said he’s eager to start his collegiate career in California — where he intends on learning how to surf.
“I’m so pumped,” Rohde said.
Contact Mike Nesper at [email protected].