MOSCOW — Competing in track and field through junior high and high school, Moscow’s Keelyn Pilcher didn’t know if she’d ever follow in her dad’s footsteps and be a hurdler in college.
When the opportunity arose to join Lewis-Clark State, she jumped on it. Pilcher signed her national letter of intent with the Warriors on Tuesday.
“I guess I never really thought I was going to run in college,” Pilcher said. “My dad (Jeff Pilcher) ran track in college (at the University of Idaho), and I was also like, ‘It would be so cool if I could be able to do that.’”
Last spring, Pilcher won the 300-meter hurdles at the Idaho large-school District I-II track meet in 47.92 seconds.
Going into the race, the title was a tossup between Pilcher and Lakeland’s Summer Kastning. As the two hurdlers rounded the final turn, Kastning fell back and Pilcher knew she’d win if she had a clean final 100 meters.
“That’s when I knew, and I was just floating the rest of the way,” Pilcher said.
Pilcher held on to win by about half a second much to the delight of a horde of Bears teammates waiting at the finish line at the Vollmer Bowl track in Lewiston.
“It was so great because at the end I had so many teammates (cheering),” Pilcher said. “I had never seen so many of my teammates surrounding me.
“It was such a great feeling because I had been working towards winning Districts since my freshman year. Just to finally do it was just a relief.”
A longtime hurdler, like her dad, Pilcher also competes in the high jump and occasional 4x400 relay — an event she said she’ll also run at LC.
During the fall, Pilcher decided to give distance running a try, and joined the Moscow cross-country team.
To her surprise, Pilcher qualified for State.
“I was going in thinking I was going to be that senior on JV that was just kinda there. But I actually really enjoyed it,” she said.
Pilcher was on the Warriors’ radar after attending track and field camps in Lewiston the last three years.
After her most-recent camp, L-C assistant coach Cyrus Hall reached out about having her join the team.
“I love the environment down there,” Pilcher said. “... It was like the opportunity kind of arose and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to take this.’ ”
Pilcher said she talked with her family and decided during Christmas break to sign with the Warriors.
Pilcher, a senior, has one season of track and field remaining in a Bears uniform. This spring, she’ll try to improve on her 12th-place finish at the Class 4A state championships in Boise.
“The State experience was a bit rough; it rained almost the entire time,” Pilcher said. “It was freezing. … But just still being down there and seeing all those amazing female athletes was great.
“Everyone was so friendly and it was a great experience.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 208-883-4624 and on Twitter at @StephanSports.