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Column: Wells isn't running from motherhood

Maurice Eleazar Staley could be a great athlete one day. But don't expect his mom and dad to push the football field or the track on their first-born son. Even if - on his only his second day in this world - the family pediatrician marveled at th...

Maurice Eleazar Staley could be a great athlete one day.

But don't expect his mom and dad to push the football field or the track on their first-born son. Even if - on his only his second day in this world - the family pediatrician marveled at the baby's muscle tone.

Eleazar is the six-day old son of Becki Wells-Staley, the 32-year-old former track and cross country standout from Dickinson, and former University of Tennessee wide receiver Maurice Staley.

"His dad is very adamant about him putting his education first because we both opted to try and make a career out of athletics before we graduated," Wells-Staley said.

Wells-Staley, who won 20 track and cross country championships for Dickinson High School, is settling in to her new role as a mom.

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However, she said her running career will remain a large part of her life.

Wells-Staley plans to get to begin running again in the next few weeks and continue training for the 2008 Olympic Trials.

"It's going to be totally a change of lifestyle for me," Wells-Staley said. "... When you're an athlete, you're used to being very independent and you have to live a lifestyle focused around what you're trying to accomplish."

The family now lives in Knoxville, Tenn., so Staley can finish school and Wells-Staley can train with coach J.J. Clark.

Staley left the Volunteers to pursue an NFL career before graduating, but injuries cut his time in the pros short.

With his playing days far in the rear-view mirror, Staley plans on pursuing coaching opportunities after he graduates.

"He's more focused on having me be the housewife as much as possible," Wells-Staley said with a laugh.

A certain coach might have a thing or two to say about that though.

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Clark was Wells-Staley's coach while she won two national track championships at the University of Florida and is still her trainer in addition to his position as the head cross country and track and field coach at Tennessee.

Wells-Staley said she won't push the training until she's recovered from childbirth.

Still, she's fascinated that scientists believe women runners can improve after childbirth. Olympians Evelyn Ashford and Marion Jones provide proof this theory.

"It's scientifically proven that physiologically, you're supposed to be able to run better after you have a child," Wells-Staley said. "My coach is really excited."

She's trying to get her mile time under 4 minutes, 6 seconds in order to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

Still, Wells-Staley said family life, a new job working with autistic adults and the promise she made to herself to finish college - she's just one class away from graduating - will eventually surpass her running career.

"I have a family now," she said. "I'm not going to put all my eggs in one basket"

Monke is the Sports Editor of The Dickinson Press. He can be e-mailed at dmonke@thedickinsonpress.com . Read his blog at www.areavoices.com/monke .

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