By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Finding a college where she could compete in athletics that also had a Christian atmosphere was important to Lauren Stutzman.
That’s why the Goshen High School senior has signed a letter of intent to compete in track and field while attending Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion.
According to the IWU Web site the school’s goals are spiritual growth, academic achievement, leadership development and athletic excellence.
“I really like the campus and the coaches plus the fact it’s a Christian school,” Stutzman said. “Going to a Christian school was very important to me.”
Stutzman is the defending Warsaw sectional champion in the 200-meter dash (26.62) and long jump (16-8 3/4) and a two-time defending Bremen regional champion in long jump (16-11 1/4 in 2010 and 17-0 1/4 in 2011). She placed fourth in long jump (17-9 3/4) at last year’s state meet.
Other colleges Stutzman considered were the University of Indianapolis, St. Joseph’s, Indiana University, Huntington and Indiana State.
“The is a very big day for Indiana Wesleyan track,” IWU coach John Foss said. “Lauren was our top recruit. She has had an outstanding high school career.
“At Indiana Wesleyan, we are not just looking for an athlete, but someone that is a good fit for the university. We look for kids that love the school as much as they love track and field.
“There is room for Lauren to get better. She has been well-coached in high school and has been taught the fundamentals. We do year-round track at Indiana Wesleyan and I’m blessed to have a staff of 10 coaches to work with athletes on individual events.”
Stutzman said, “Indiana Wesleyan is giving me the maximum athletic money they can and with other academic moneys it’s almost a full ride.”
Stutzman is a sprinter and long jumper for the Redskins. She has career bests of 12.80 in the 100 meters, 26.39 in the 200 meters and holds the GHS record in long jump at 18-1.
“Besides her natural ability Lauren is good in track, because of her willingness to try new things and work hard,” Goshen coach Dallan Troyer said.
“She has an open attitude about doing whatever needs to be done. She is a leader of our team by her actions. She tries to encourage others to do what needs to get done. It’s more on a one-on-one basis, but if she has to she will address the entire team.
“We try to push her every day to get better. She lifts in the morning and we are still working on her speed. We are aiming to have her peak at the state meet.”
It’s that willingness to try new things that may lead her to a new event in college, the triple jump.
“The coaches at Indiana Wesleyan have talked to me about it,” Stutzman said. “I always want to try new things.
“I don’t do summer track so I’ve never had the chance to try the event.”
Stutzman also played soccer at GHS.
“I considered soccer at the collegiate level, but didn’t know if I was good enough,” she said.
“I like both sports. In soccer it’s fun being part of a team while track has more goals for myself.”
Stutzman started out in the Westview school system.
“I played soccer and basketball in middle school,” she said.
“My parents had a two-sport rule so I didn’t run track. I did compete in meets in elementary school and enjoyed the sport.”
How did the talented athlete end up at Goshen?
“My dad got a new job and Goshen was about halfway between his work and mom’s job,” Stutzman said.
It’s been a good move for the Redskin program as Stutzman has captured five sectional championships and two regional crowns so far in her career.
“I think I’ve grown a lot at Goshen, because it’s a bigger school with more opportunities,” she said.
“Goshen helped me mature by getting me out of my comfort zone.”
Staying closer to home was another important aspect for Stutzman while making her college selection.
“My older bother Dustin goes to Trine University (in Angola) and he likes the fact he can come on for a weekend if he wants,” she said.
Lauren is undecided on a major. She is thinking about either psychology or exercise science.
“The nice thing about the program at Indiana Wesleyan is you can start out in one and easily transfer to the other,” she said.
Stutzman will be joining Taylor Hite, Allison Musselman and Allissa Peterson of West Noble and Emily Dean of Jimtown in the Indiana Wesleyan track program.
“We have a long history of success with girls from West Noble and this area,” Foss said.
“There are some pretty good athletes that come from this area.”
Lauren is the daughter of Les and Dianna Stutzman. She also had a brother Austin who is a sophomore at GHS.