Emma Balazs will be running with the Vandals next season.
The 17-year-old Prince George product has accepted a four-year NCAA Division 1 scholarship from the University of Idaho.
“I know there’s quite a few people from Prince George and Quesnel and stuff who have gone there, and they’re really good,” Balazs said. “I know that they can make good runners. There’s a girl there right now, she runs a 9:07 3,000 metres and I’m like 10:17 so she’s like a minute and 10 seconds faster, and that’s a lot for running.”
Balazs said she’s very excited about competing on the Idaho Vandals’ track and field team. But making the choice wasn’t a slam dunk. She went on another recruiting trip to the University of Hawaii and considered Utah and Nebraska.
What gave Idaho the edge over Hawaii was its track. The program’s connections to Prince George also played a leading role in attracting Balazs. University of Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps hails from Prince George and has created a comfort level with Canadian recruits.
In a release issued on Friday, Phipps spoke highly of Balazs.
“Emma is one of the top steeplechasers in Canada,” he stated. “Knowing her hometown, I know the difficulties that they have training through the winter and in adverse conditions more often than not, so I’m really impressed by her performances.
“With her background in cross country and her experience in multiple different distance events, we expect her to be able to come right in and be a contributor in her freshman season.”
The University of Idaho is located in Moscow, a small city of about 25,000 residents. Moscow is located just east of the Idaho-Washington border, 125 kilometres south of Spokane, Wash.
Balazs visited Moscow to tour the university campus at the beginning of the month. She travelled to Hawaii in December.
“For choosing a university, (my parents) wouldn’t tell me what they wanted, so they made me choose by myself, and my mom and dad were really happy,” she said. “I think my brother (Nic) wanted me to go to Hawaii so he could visit me.”
Athleticism runs in the Balazs family. Nic plays Canadian Interuniversity Sport volleyball with the Kamloops-based Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
Balazs began exploring post-secondary options early in the 2012-13 school year. She wrote her SAT in October.
“It was really long,” Balazs said of the SAT, a standardized test for U.S. college admissions. “I didn’t think it would be that long, but it took me like four hours. But it was pretty good.”
Balazs captured the 2012 Canadian youth national title in the 2,000m steeplechase with a time of 6:57.65, and was a bronze medalist in the 1,500m. She was also the 1,500m steeplechase runner-up at the 2010 Canadian junior nationals.
At the provincial level, Balazs was the 2012 B.C. high school champion in the 1,500m steeplechase. She was also one of 12 young athletes who received a Prince George Sports Hall of Fame Youth Excellence Award last year.