Tuscola runner Eva Rinker signs with West Virginia
November 4 – Tuscola senior Eva Rinker signed her national letter of intent with West Virginia University to compete in cross country and track competitions on November 2.
Rinker will join WVU’s championship-caliber team, which finished second in the Big 12 Cross Country Championships held on Friday, Oct. 28.
“We are here today to celebrate a milestone in the life of a student-athlete,” Tuscola track and field and cross-country head coach Kevin Fitzgerald told the crowd. “Eva has had a lot of support, especially from her family.”
A cohort of Rinker’s family attended the signing: mother Joanne, father Jeremy, sister Gracie, her grandparents Phil and Eileen Chieppa, and grandmother Jean.
“And Papa Frank has watched over Eva from heaven for 377 days,” Fitzgerald added.
Fitzgerald said Rinker approached him in the spring of 2020 and asked if he would help improve her running so she could qualify for state competition.
“I agreed, and it started a partnership that continues to this day. Her goals changed; she decided to race through college, and with today’s signing, she achieved that goal and moves on. at the next level,” Fitzgerald said.
With the support of her coach, family and teammates, Rinker qualified for state competition in 2020.
“Let me be perfectly clear on one very important thing: while many of us have been supporting Eva, there is only one person who is solely responsible for today, and that is Eva Rinker. Exclamation mark,” Fitzgerald added.
Rinker’s accomplishments are long: In cross country, she was the team’s No. 1 player for three straight years. In 30 races, she came first 11 times, second six times and third once to reach the podium 18 times out of 30 attempts.
She is a three-time all-conference runner, two-time all-region runner, and three-time state meet qualifier.
Rinker was 65th in the state as a sophomore, 19th last year, and will compete in the state meet this Saturday.
In track and field, she was the team’s first 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 runner. She was part of every conference last year, finishing first in the 800m and 1600m races. She took regional honors by finishing first in the 800m and anchoring the 4×400 and 4×800 in fourth place. At the state, she finished third in the 800 meters at the 3A State Championships.
“I would like to start by thanking you all for coming out today,” Rinker told the crowd. “It means a lot. Thank you for celebrating this special moment with me. There is one person I would especially like to thank, and that is Coach Fitz.”
Rinker said more than 50 schools in Divisions I, II and III have contacted her about competing for their programs. She said Fitzgerald leads the communication between her and the WVU coaches.
“[Which led] me to pursue my athletic and academic career at WVU.”
“I’m really excited for her,” Rinker’s father, Jeremy Rinker, said. “West Virginia has been Eva’s number one choice for a while now. Her mom and I both graduated there. We’ve taken her back a few times, and it’s a place where she feels good.”
Jeremy Rinker said his daughter attended camps at WVU and fell in love with the school during her official visit.
He thinks the timing of his signing to college is fortuitous.
“By making this signing, she’s going to run free, with all that weight lifted from what her future holds. I’m thrilled to have her competing this weekend, representing Tuscola and racing with her teammates,” said Jeremy Rinker.
Rinker said his goal is for his team to finish third.
“We have to beat the good riders to be able to finish third,” she said.
At WVU, Rinker plans to major in exercise physiology and double minor in Spanish and math.