Hempfield runner headed to Yale

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 8:38 p.m.

Hempfield senior Chandler Crusan received one of the best Christmas presents a little early this year.

On Dec. 14, Crusan received his acceptance letter to Yale University, where he will run track and field.

“I mean it doesn't get much better than the Ivy League so when I approached the applying process looking at colleges it was always in the back of my mind to try and get accepted to one of them,” Crusan said. “Just the fact that I was able to also run at one of them made me really lean towards going there. Also that it was one of the top schools in the world.”

With interest from Penn and Cornell as well, it was Yale's friendly vibe, outstanding architecture and “Pittsburgh” weather that sealed the deal for Crusan.

“The coach (Marc Davis) is actually from Eastern Pennsylvania, so he said he's very interested in Pennsylvania athletes,” Crusan said. “He knows that we work really hard. We were going back and forth because that Sunday was the Steelers-Eagles game and he's an Eagles fan, so we had jokes about that throughout the weekend.”

Yale was drawn to Crusan not only for his grades, but his speed and flexibility on the track. Last year he broke three records at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association track and field meet — all were in the 400 and included the Hempfield school record set by John Sherrow in 1979 with a time of 49.21.

“He's just a strong gutsy type of kid,” said Ron Colland, Hempfield track and field coach. “At practice he'll give us 100 percent all the time where some kids are just content to do what the coach asks them, but he's constantly pushing himself. I'd be a little bit surprised since he's run everything from the 100 to the 800.”

There is a chance that Crusan could switch events at Yale, and although he'd run whatever is needed of him, he'd choose to remain the 400/800 guy.

“The 400 is really fun,” Crusan said. “Some people think it's too far; a lot of the sprinters do. For me, one lap is as simple as it gets.

“I really enjoy the 800 just because I feel there is a lot of strategy that goes into the two laps. At the high school level, you are practically sprinting anyway, both of them. There is a different aspect with it being just a little bit longer. A little bit more of a plan that goes into your run that is almost instantaneous while you are out there running.”

In addition to running, Crusan hopes to excel academically after his success in advanced courses at Hempfield in addition to being on the Honor Roll.

“Major wise, I'm not 100 percent sure yet,” “I was looking possibly towards biomedical engineering or possibly some other form of engineering just because of how far I am in my math. This year I am taking advance placement Calculus 2. I really enjoy a lot of the math. I also like chemistry and biology as well.”

“Besides his athletic ability he gets along really well with his classmates and teammates as far as I've seen coaching him in cross country and track,” Colland said. “I also know that he's an altar server in church, and he's a pretty good kid all around. Very excited about the sport of track and field.”

And for Crusan, the two are very closely connected. “Track season just seems to be my best time of the year in all aspects of life,” Crusan said.

Brittany Goncar is a freelance writer.

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