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A perfect fit in Portland

Slowly making her way south over the last few years, transfer Jenny Rodgers eventually ended up on the campus at Portland State.

“It’s really warm here, compared to all the places I’ve been to and lived at,” Rodger said.

Amazingly enough, Oregon is the warmest place she has lived so far. Rodgers was recruited here for cross-country and track, but by different coaches a year ago. Ironically, the coaching change worked out for the best as Rodgers admits she knew she was meant to be at PSU.

“It was the school itself that got me to come anyway. Keith (Woodard) called me and told me he lost his job, but I came anyway because the school just felt right,” Rodgers admitted.

Rodgers graduated from Valdez (Alaska) High School in 1998. Rodgers comes from a family of seven, the only daughter. One might argue growing up with four brothers has given Rodgers a competitive edge.

Strangely enough, Rodgers didn’t compete in track or cross country in high school until her basketball coach told her she needed to find a way to stay in shape in the off season. That was when she took the initiative to join the running squad at Valdez. She played both varsity basketball and volleyball in high school, and excelled in cross-country. She was Alaska’s state champion in 1997, earned second place honors at state in ’96, and took third in ’98.

Following her graduation, Rodgers decided to take her talent to Spokane Community College. She was there for three years, using her red-shirt year there as well as two years to compete. In Spokane, Rodgers helped her team to two NWACC cross country championships and one NWACC track championship.

“She’s lived up to my expectations and beyond them and that’s asking a lot. She’s constantly trying to get better with the team and by herself. She’s a tough young lady. She’s learned a lot this year, she’ll get better, and next year will be great,” distance coach Mike Hickey said.

Rodgers competes on both the cross-country squad and track teams at Portland State. She participates in six total events: 800-meter run, 1,500, 3,000, 5,000, the mile and the long relay. She ran a 4:40 personal best at Stanford this year in the 1,500, and 17:28 in the 5,000 at University of Washington.

Rodgers will compete in the outdoor Big Sky Championships this week in the 5,000 and 1,600 relay.

She consistently works on improving her performance at and after her practices and credits in part her PSU teammates and coaches.

“I really like Coach Hickey, he’s inspirational, he’s intense and he loves his job. It makes me and others compete better to have a coach like that. (Head) Coach (Tony) Veney is really wise; he definitely knows what he’s doing. They’re great coaches to push me in the right direction. And I really like all my teammates, they’re all awesome,” Rodgers said.

The campus at Portland State has been a perfect fit for Rodgers. With a major in history, Rodgers hopes to one day teach and coach in college somewhere. But Portland has suited Rodgers on several levels.

“It’s really historic here, the buildings are so old, I do notice things like that because of my major. I like the diversity on campus, the setting kind of reminds me of Spokane. Not really a university setting is what appealed to me, and it’s so green!” Rodgers added.

The Oregon lifestyle fits Rodgers because she loves anything to do with the outdoors including snowboarding, camping and rafting. In her spare time, Rodgers likes to watch movies, hang out with friends and most of all travel.

Rodgers will stay in Oregon for the summer to work out and improve her times for the next season.

“It ended up for the best, I love my coaches and teammates and it’s great to be a part of a building year. There’s nowhere to go, but up,” Rodgers concluded.