Granted, Lucas Setere fell short of his ultimate goal in the 400-meter hurdles this season, but the year is far from a failure.
Setere, who was featured in the May 17 issue of the News-Times, failed to shave off the critical tenths of a second he needed to qualify for his second trip to the NCAA Division III Championships. His time at May's Willamette Last Chance meet of 55.34 seconds was well shy of the qualifying standard of 54 seconds.
The senior from Rainier never fully recovered from a dramatic fall at the Texas Relays in April when he planted a foot underneath a hurdle at the 200 meter mark. Setere rallied to win the Northwest Conference championship two weeks later, but never seemed to fully regain his old form.
Setere wanted that second chance badly, but his body failed him.
However, if you look at the big picture, track and field saved him.
If coach Ron Tabb hadn't convinced him to come out for the track team, Setere says, he may never have received his coveted business degree.
The rebellious Setere came out of Rainier in the spring of 2001 without much of a plan for college. He thought about St. Martin's College in Lacey, Wash. He thought about Linfield. He came to Pacific instead, primarily because they had sent him a free application. He tried out for the men's soccer team and was promptly cut. Within two weeks, his college soccer career was over.
After that, Setere followed the wayward road map of a college freshman without any direction. His grades slipped. He made poor choices in the residence halls. He came close to a not-so-friendly parting of ways with Pacific.
'I didn't end up doing anything my first year,' Setere said. 'I almost got kicked out because I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't doing my stuff. I was getting burned out.'
Tabb, meanwhile, was looking for talent anywhere he could find it for his struggling track and field program. He caught word of Setere's talent in the hurdles, sought out the wayward freshman and convinced him to turn out for the team.
The hurdles provided just the focus Setere needed to make a turnaround. On the track, Setere was the model of hard work. He struggled through an injury-prone career to make one appearance in the NCAA Championships and improved from third at conference in 2004 to second in 2005, eventually culminating with a conference championship in 2006.
And he climbed the ladder with his grades as well.
'That first year I didn't know what I was doing,' said Setere, echoing the mantra of many college freshmen. 'Ever since then my grades went from almost getting kicked out to earning A's and B's.'
So the prouder moment for Tabb and Setere was not on the track on May 27, but in the Pacific Athletic Center on May 20 when Setere joined nearly 300 other undergraduates receiving degrees. His academic comeback was one of All-American proportions, and both have a quarter mile of hurdles to thank for it.