Esther Erb ’08 Qualifies for Olympic Trials Once Again

Esther Erb celebrates her victory in the Twin Cities Marathon. (photo by Renee Jones Schneider/StarTribune)
Esther Erb celebrates her victory in the Twin Cities Marathon. (photo by Renee Jones Schneider/StarTribune)

MINNEAPOLIS – For the second time in her career, Case Western Reserve University alumna Esther Erb '08 has qualified for the United States Olympic Trials.

On Sunday, Erb won the Twin Cities Marathon with the second-best time of her career (2 hours, 34 minutes, 1 second) despite losing 30 seconds to a late bathroom break.  

"I was trailing [Heather Lieberg and Brianne Nelson] for a long time," said Erb, 28, a native of Roanoke, Virginia. "I could see them up there, and I was just kind of trying to chip away. After I stopped in the porta-john, I made that 30 seconds up pretty quickly. In the last mile, I was kind of running scared. I was hoping they weren't right on my tail, because I know both of them are really fast. I didn't want to look back."

Erb, currently an assistant cross country coach at Rider University in New Jersey, qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles. She also earns a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at the 2015 world championships in Beijing.

"For me, the most important thing was making the U.S. team [for the world championships]," she said. "That's pretty much all that was on my mind the last mile or so."

The multi-talented Erb sang the national anthem at the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials before running the race and finishing 27th.

Esther Erb at CWRU

Erb was one of the most decorated student-athletes to ever don a Case Western Reserve uniform. A nine-time national qualifier and the 2008 NCAA Division III National Champion in the outdoor 10,000-meter run (35:45.01), she earned six All-American finishes during her career. Erb became the first female in University Athletic Association history to achieve the Triple Crown, as she was named the Most Outstanding Performer (Running Events) in both indoor and outdoor track & field in addition to winning an individual title cross country in 2007. The 16-time All-UAA finisher and eight-time UAA champion earned All-America status twice in cross country (2006 & 2007), three times in outdoor track (2007, fifth in 5,000m - 17:01.30; 2008, sixth in 5,000m – 16:58.87; 2008, national champion in 10,000m – 35:45.01) and once more in indoor track (2008, fourth in 5,000m – 17:17.21).

Erb also earned a highly touted honor off of the track as she was awarded both an Austrian-American Fulbright Commission English Teaching Assistantship and a Fulbright Commission English Teaching Assistantship in Germany – eventually landing in Vienna, Austria. She taught English as a second language [ESL] 12-15 hours a week to area youth in grades 5-13, and was also selected to become a member of the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, one of the top choirs in the world.

Although a highly-decorated student-athlete at CWRU, Erb didn't begin running until her late teens. However, her music career began much earlier. She began singing in choirs at age five and was a member of numerous musical groups while in University Circle. She sang the national anthem at multiple Spartan sporting events – including three baseball games at Progressive Field, home of Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians – and was selected to sing the anthem at an actual Indians' game.

She graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in music and cognitive science where she was named six times to the Dean's High Honors List and twice to the Dean's Honors List. A 2005-06 CoSIDA Academic All-American®, she concluded her studies at CWRU with a 3.86 grade point average.