The Richmond Register

Sports

May 10, 2014

H.S. TRACK: Madison Central’s Mason Crump to run track and cross country at EKU

RICHMOND — A couple of years ago, Madison Central’s Mason Crump had to make a difficult decision.

If he wanted to pursue his dream of being a college athlete, then it was time to focus on just one sport.

“I figured I would have more success on the track,” Crump said. “I thought I had a better shot of going to a bigger school if I ran track. So, that really had an impact on me.”

That decision certainly has paid off.

On Thursday, the Central senior signed a national letter of intent to run track and cross country for Eastern Kentucky University. He also had scholarship offers from East Tennessee State, the University of the Cumberlands and Vincennes University.

“It was hard for him because he loved baseball,” Central track and cross country coach Robert LaDeur said. “He struggled really bad with that decision. He made the right decision, that’s for sure.”

Crump ran cross country as a freshman and sophomore and did have some solid results — he finished 100th at the Class 3A State Meet in 2011.

But, it wasn’t until he turned his attention to running full-time that he really began to post some stunning times.

In the past year, Crump has set the school record in the 1,600 (4:25) and tied the school mark in the 800 (1:59.47) — a record he shares with Jerome Williams, who also runs for EKU.

“He just has such a gift,” LaDeur said. “When a kid is a good runner you can tell by his body frame and his stride. His talent was there.”

That talent has really been on display the past two years for the school’s cross country team. Crump helped the Indians claim back-to-back region titles and as an individual finished second in the region in 2012 and third in 2013.

At the Class AAA State Meet, he finished 42nd in 2012 and 41st in 2013.

Crump really didn’t really join the track and field team until last season.

This year, he’s been a big-time point-getting for the Indians. Not only does the distance specialist compete in the 1,600 meter run, the 800 meter run and the 400 meter dash, he’s also a member of Central’s 4x800 relay team.

At a meet last month in Lexington, Crump and his teammates set the best time in the state this year in the distance medley — a race mostly run in college.

Following that meet, the EKU coaching staff offered him a scholarship.

“My uncle ran (track) at Virginia Tech and George Mason and my dad ran track in high school,” Crump said. “They had a major impact on me running, pushing me and driving me to do better.”

That family tradition certainly has been a key to Crump’s success. But, it’s his incredible work ethic that really has allowed him to make such rapid improvement.

“From the start of summer until now, Mason has probably had 750 miles or more of training,” LaDeur said. “You don’t get that many miles in unless you are running six days a week. His training is so intense. You don’t run the times that he runs unless you train like that.”

Crump has also been pleasantly surprised but what he’s been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.

Last week, Crump was invited to run at the Kentucky Dream Mile in Louisville. Only the top 15 runners in the state are invited to the annual event.

He posted a time of 4:27.81 and finished 11th.

“I look back on my times and I just shake my head,” Crump said. “I just can’t believe it. Everything is going good.”

Crump is set to join one of the elite cross county programs in the country. Last year, the Colonels won the NCAA Southeast Region for the first time in school history.

EKU went on to finish 15th at the NCAA National Championships.

“Most of their elite athletes are foreign,” LaDeur said. “So, it’s hard to get a local kid into that program. They might take you as a wallk-on, but for them to give you money shows how much they want Mason.”

Under the guidance of long-time coach Rick Erdmann, the EKU cross country and track and field teams have dominated the Ohio Valley Conference for most of the past three decades.

The Colonels have swept the OVC Cross Country Championships seven times in the past eight years.

Since he arrived at EKU in 1979, Erdmann has led the school to 48 OVC Cross Country titles and 17 OVC Track and Field Championships.

Erdmann has also been named OVC Coach of the Year an amazing 62 times.

“Eastern’s cross country team is one of the best kept secrets in Richmond,” Crump said. “People are just stunned when you tell them that EKU has that highly ranked of a program.”

But, before his college career begins, Crump and his teammates have one more big goal to accomplish.

The Indians finished second to Pulaski County at last year’s Class 3A Region 7 Meet.

This time around, they want to bring home a championship.

“We are really shooting to win that regional title as a team,” Crump said. “I’m gonna have a long day coming up, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Crump is expected to compete in four events Tuesday at the regional meet, which is being hosted by Pulaski County High School.

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