Growing up in the Czech Republic's second largest city, Brno, Eva Krchova began distance running when most kids were skipping on the playground. Last year, as a freshman at the University of San Francisco, she set university records in the 800- and 3,000-meter track and field competitions, as well as the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
She was USF's first NCAA championship finalist in the 3000-meter steeplchase, a rollicking run over 35 hurdles and seven water hazards, finishing 13th with a time of 10:27, after qualifying with a personal best of 10:11, and was first in the same competition at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at UCLA.
In cross-country, Krchova earned all WCC honors and was 10th in the WCC Championships, running six kilometers in 21:58 and helping the USF women's team to its first conference championship.
Off the racecourse, Krchova impressed in the classroom. An international studies major, she was twice recognized for academic excellence and made the dean's honor roll with a 3.71 grade point average.
"Eva has an incredible work ethic and approaches her education and athletic training and competition with focus and intensity," said Helen Lehman-Winters, USF men's and women's cross-country and track and field head coach.
Now a sophomore, "American positivism," as Krchova has come to call the boundless enthusiasm she sees in her USF teammates and classmates, has grown on her and she sees more top finishes for herself and USF's track and field and cross-country teams ahead.
She credits her father for introducing her to the sport. "When I was small, I saw him running every day and when I was 6 years old I asked him if I could join him," Krchova said.
Even at that tender age, Krchova knew the furrow in her father's forehead reflected his concern that her short legs would slow his pace. She also knew that he couldn't say, "No." "Since that time, I became his everyday partner and after a few years he turned into my coach," Krchova said.
A two-time Czech national junior team champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with national junior team titles in the 1,500-meter indoor and 3,000-meter outdoor, Krchova longed to compete at the Division I college level and study abroad. She trained diligently, hoping that a college coach from the U.S. would discover her and bring her to America. Finally, Krchova took matters into her own hands and reached out to coaches at schools she was interested in attending by email, including Lehman-Winters.
"I still have goose bumps when I think about it!" Krchova said, describing the moment she read the letter from Lehman-Winters informing her that she had been accepted to USF and would receive a full scholarship.
In spite of having visited the U.S. briefly in 2000, Krchova was mesmerized by the "hugeness" of American life when she arrived as a freshman. "I was rapt by huge highways and huge cars," Krchova said. "Next were huge paper cups, huge campuses, huge everything."
Athletic Director Search Begins
The nationwide search for an athletic director is about to begin, with USF School of Law Dean Jeffrey S. Brand heading the search committee. Director of Golf Gary Nelson, MD, is serving as interim athletic director following the resignation of Debra Gore-Mann in September.
Nelson, who took the head golf coaching position at USF to "bring USF's golf program to national prominence, doing it with true scholars while having a lot of fun along the way," has raised USF's national ranking drastically through strong recruiting classes that he has brought to The Hilltop.