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Thursday, October 1, 2020

4:02 mile runner transfers to Western

University of Washington graduate Nate Beamer talks about what went into his decision

University of Washington track team hosts the Husky Classic at the Dempsey Center on Friday, February 14, 2020, in Seattle. // Photo courtesy of Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures

By Brian Esparza

Nate Beamer didn’t know on February 29, that he would don the purple and gold University of Washington jersey for the last time.

At the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Track and Field Championships at the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Center, Beamer competed in his final competition as a Husky in the 3,000 meter run. He won his section in 8:22.77 — a personal best.

However, after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the National Collegiate Athletic Association to shut down all spring sports seasons, including outdoor track and field, Beamer said he’s had trouble with self-motivating while training alone.

“It’s just a little bit weird,” Beamer said. “You get all amped up for the spring season, and it just gets yanked out from under you, so I kind of have to look towards cross country in the fall and hope for the best.”

University of Washington cross country and track and field head coach Andy Powell said that there are a lot of unknowns at this time. While decisions are still being made, he has been encouraging his athletes to practice self-reflecting, bringing in guest speakers through online meetings and emphasizing life beyond college.

“Athletics is so important and you’re always in the moment, but right now it’s all about self-reflecting and talking about life after college,” Powell said.

Beamer has a couple of weeks left in his spring quarter at the University of Washington before graduating and then transferring to Western Washington University for the Woodring College of Education next year.

Powell said talks about life after college between him and Beamer began the moment Powell arrived at the University of Washington, taking over as the head coach for the track and cross country programs in June 2018.

“We had a long meeting and we started talking about some of that stuff after college, and what he would love to do,” Powell said.

Powell said that Beamer was an “OK student” when he arrived, but after his discussion with Beamer about his post-collegiate plans he soon became one of the top students in the athletic department.

Beamer is graduating from the University of Washington this June with an Education, Communications and Organization degree. He said he is looking to teach math or social studies at the high school level.

Beamer said his decision to transfer was for educational purposes. He said he chose Western because of the quality of the education program and the relative short distance to his hometown of Marysville.

“I just figured it’d be a good fit because I like to stay close to home and if I want to teach in the state then their program’s one of the best in the state,” Beamer said.

On the track, Beamer spent his first four years as a collegiate track and field athlete at the University of Washington, where he ran his personal best of 4:02.41 in the mile run on February 23, 2019. He has never ran slower than 4:09 in all nine of his mile runs since January 2018.

According to the Track and Field Results Reporting System, Beamer’s mile time ranked him 59th best in the nation among Division I athletes in 2019. As he is transitioning to Western, a Division II program, his standing instantly projects him near the top of the nation.

Garrett Zatlin oversees The Stride Report, a multimedia website that explores collegiate distance running across all divisions, covering news, rankings and analysis, in addition to discussion pieces and interviews.

Zatlin said Beamer’s experience with the University of Washington program could immediately make him a national contender in the mile run next winter.

“The Washington program is one of the best in the nation when it comes to developing collegiate milers with Andy Powell coaching there,” Zatlin said.

Beamer’s 4:02.41 mile time would have ranked him fourth best in the nation among Division II athletes last year and would have been the top time overall this year, according to the Track and Field Results Reporting System.

While Beamer’s top mile time is one of the best in his division, Zatlin said his good times are consistent.

“He has consistency in the mile hitting 4:04, 4:05 times, which at the D2 level if you’re hitting 4:04 or 4:05, you are really good,” Zatlin said.

Powell said that if Beamer kept his same great attitude and work ethic, the sky’s the limit for him.

“He really has an opportunity to further his running,” Powell said. “I think he can be a sub-4:00 runner.”

Beamer said that the expectations of being one of the best in the nation will definitely put some pressure on him.

“My [personal best] is good, but it’s kind of weird because I’m on a team with five guys that broke four minutes [in the mile],” Beamer said. “I’m happy with it, but sometimes I forget that it’s pretty quick.”

With uncertainty surrounding whether fall sports will continue as usual, Beamer said that one thing he is most looking forward to is running with people again.

“Definitely running with people. Running by yourself is hard,” Beamer said. “I love running for the social part of it, being surrounded by teammates. I’m just kind of excited to really hang out with the team and have that team atmosphere that you don’t really get from a Zoom call.”

As Beamer departs from the Washington Huskies’ program, Powell said that the team will be cheering for him.

“A lot of people are rooting for him next year,” Powell said.

Meanwhile, Beamer is excited for what the future holds when he heads up to Western in the fall.

“Everyone talks about how great Bellingham is and I have a lot of friends who go up there,” Beamer said. “I love Seattle, it’s a great city, but it’ll be a nice change of pace. I’m just excited to see where the new part of my life takes me.”

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