2018 WCC HOH Inductees: Miles Batty, BYU & Nicole Karr, Portland
Crumpacker profiles two elite runners ready and set for induction
By John Crumpacker, #WCChoops Columnist
PREVIOUS WCC HALL OF HONOR PROFILES: Randy Wolf, Pepperdine
Leading up to the 2018 West Coast Conference Hall of Honor induction ceremony Saturday, March 3 at the Orleans Casino Resort, WCC Columnist John Crumpacker is profiling each inductee. Today’s profile focuses on two elite cross country and track student-athletes from traditional powerhouses Portland & BYU.
Smart woman that she is, Nicole Karr figured she’d better stick with her maiden name rather than take on her husband’s surname. For professional reasons, you understand.
“I don’t go by Slaughter because then I’d be Dr. Slaughter. Not a good name for a dentist,’’ Karr said with a laugh.
Her husband, Fred Slaughter, surely understands.
Following a productive college career in track and field and cross country at the University of Portland from 1991-96, Karr took a year off before starting dental school at Oregon Health Sciences University, also in Portland. She spent two years in general dentistry in Tucson, then decided to specialize, which required a fellowship and a two-year residency.
Dr. Karr is now an endodontist, meaning she performs everyone’s favorite dental procedure – root canals.
“So, nobody’s happy to see me,’’ she said, again with a chuckle. “It’s really no big deal at all. The technology is so advanced. Half of (her patients) fall asleep. I did two root canals on my husband and he lived to tell the tale.’’
Karr is one of two track and field athletes in this year’s West Coast Conference Hall of Honor class, the other being former BYU middle-distance runner Miles Batty. Yes, Miles was a miler for the Cougars from 2008-2011. And, he’s on track to become a doctor himself, currently enrolled in medical school at the University of Texas-Southwestern in Dallas in his third year.
On Miles being a miler, Batty said, “Since high school, reporters had fun with that. At the time I was just a runner. When I settled on the mile, it became more of an irony.’’
Both former runners were happy and surprised to learn of their selection to the Hall of Honor, ceremonies to be held March 3 at the Orleans in Las Vegas in conjunction with the WCC basketball tournament.
“I am really excited,’’ Karr said. “The kids will probably love it. I was really surprised. It feels like I’ve been out of college and running for so long. It came as a surprise.’’
At 30, Batty is the youngest member of the WCC Hall of Honor class who attended the most recent member of the conference.
“I was surprised, given how recently we started in the WCC,’’ he said. “It’s a great honor, obviously, to be recognized by the university with the nomination and the conference itself. We were only in the conference my senior year. I loved my time at BYU. I considered it some of the most enjoyable years of my life. I loved my time on the BYU team, cross country and track.’’
Batty’s high point in track came in his senior season of 2012, when he ran his personal best in the mile, 3 minutes, 54.54 seconds at the Millrose Games in New York. At the time, it was an NCAA indoor record, since bested by several runners.
“The record that was broken was from the 70’s, then it was broken every year since,’’ Batty noted.
While at BYU, Batty took his LDS mission to Brazil in 2006-08, when he was based in the city of Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River. A diet of rice and beans and spaghetti and chicken, with little to no training, caused him to gain 30 pounds, disastrous for a runner of any distance.
“That was almost every day,’’ he said of his Brazilian diet. “It was a good day if you had all four. I wanted to maintain a reasonable weight. I still managed to gain a considerable amount of weight. That was my biggest fear. It’s funny, all the other missionaries were dropping weight. You’re walking eight-to-10 miles a day and it’s very hot. I put on about 30 pounds in the first six months.
“I had to work pretty hard to get back in racing shape.’’
After graduating from BYU in 2012, Batty ran for another three years under ASICS sponsorship but he never managed to better his mile time from college. He spent two years in Austin training with the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 1,500 meters, Leo Manzano.
“That’s when I got interested in Texas medical schools,’’ Batty said. “This is the year we get to rotate around all the specialties. I’ve been setting myself up for orthopedic surgery. I’m pretty much planning on it.’’
At UT-Southwestern in Dallas, Batty lives with his wife, Danika, and their nine-month-old son, Max. He’ll be attending the Hall of Honor ceremonies with his family, parents and, hopefully, his track and field coach from BYU, Ed Eyestone.
As for his fellow Hall of Honor member, Karr, she now lives in Yorba Linda, Ca., with her husband and their three children, Milla, 10, Alina, 8, and Dirk, 7. Her husband has an interesting sports connection as his father, Fred Slaughter Sr., played on John Wooden’s first NCAA championship basketball team at UCLA in 1964.
Noting that Fred Slaughter Jr. is a judge, Karr said, “If you go in front of Judge Slaughter, you know you’re in trouble.’’
Like most Hall of Honor recipients, Karr said she enjoyed her time in the WCC. At Portland, she was a cross country All-American and an Academic All-American in 1994 and finished third in the 3,000 meters at the 1995 NCAA Indoor Championships and eighth in the same event at the 1996 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
“It was great,’’ she said of her time at UP. “I went there because it was a small school, but it was still a Division I school. It was a great academic experience. It was a great experience running. Our team was close-knit. I liked having that smaller atmosphere. For me, I felt the small, close-knit experience was better. I made some great friends.’’
Karr was good enough to qualify for the ’96 Olympic Trials in Atlanta, where she ran heats in the 1,500 and later found herself in a bus headed back to her hotel when sprinter Michael Johnson broke the world record in the 200 meters with a time of 19.67 seconds.
“It was a great experience,’’ she said. “I had such a great time. I probably liked the 1,500 the best but I was more suited for the 3,000 or 5,000. I didn’t run those events as much as the 1,500.’’
After a 20-year absence from running, Karr ran a 5K a few years ago with her son, then 4, in Yorba Linda.
“That was my first race back,’’ she said. “We had 10 or 20 people behind us. Everyone else was ahead of us. When we crossed the line, everyone was cheering. He thought he won the race.’’
When she’s not assuring her patients that root canals are no big deal these days, Dr. Karr keeps up on UP athletics, watches track and field competitions on TV and attends a few local meets like the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut.
“It’s such a great sport. I like my family to be exposed to it,’’ she said. “I met so many people. I made a ton of friends from other schools.’’
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards. Crumpacker has been covering #WCChoops since the 2014-15 season.