REED CITY  — It’s a big step going from high school to college track and field, plus cross country, especially when the next level is Division 1, Big Ten at Michigan State University.

Michigan State coach Walt Drenth is looking for Reed City native Joe Oehrli to have a strong future in the 800 and 1,500 meter runs. He has three years left of eligibility.

“He’s showing signs of excellence,” Drenth said. “He’s finding the way. This spring, he had good training sessions.”

Injuries hampered Oehrli’s season.

“He can be a Big Ten runner,” Drenth said. “He has to stay healthy.”

In his redshirt season, Oehrli competed unattached in the 800 meters at the Eastern Michigan University twilight meet, clocking a 1:58.90.

At Reed City, Oehrli won the 1,600 meters in 4:19.1 at the state meet as a senior. He lettered four seasons in both cross country and track and earned all-league honors three times and all-state accolades twice. He was second in the 800 meters as a senior at the state meet and third the previous season. He also was second in the 4x400 relay as a senior.

Oehrli was sixth in the Midwest Meet of Champions in the 800 meters.

He was team captain for track for one year and for cross country for two seasons.

Oehrli was recruited to Michigan State. He’s been getting used to the college level and the transition. The college distance for cross country is almost doubled and Oehrli acknowledged that he had to get used to the transition.

“It’s difficult,” he said. “The level of competition is a lot harder.”

But Oehrli feels comfortable with the demands presented to him by college cross country.

“I’ll get to travel,” he said. “I wasn’t on the varsity last year but hopefully I will be this year.”

Oehrli so far has only run the 8K.

“I haven’t actually run the 10K,” he said. “They only run the 10K at regionals and nationals.”

Oehrli’s best 8K time has been 25:20. “I want to run the high 24s, maybe,” he said. “I need to run more mileage.”

That’s a top priority this summer for Oehrli, but he’s been putting in more miles this summer than ever before.

“I was coming back from an injury this year so I didn’t run very fast.” Oehrli said, pointing to back spasms and other injuries. His indoor season running was limited but he was able to do more during the outdoor campaign.

Oehrli considers the 800 his best event.

“I want to get to the Big Ten finals,” he said. “I’m just hoping to run my best.”