Peshtigo's VanVooren To Run for Div.1 Marquette UniversityIssue Date: November 21, 2018
Peshtigo senior Mitchell VanVooren said that at the beginning of last year's track season he was "running kind of slow." Now, he's a three-time state qualifier and signed a Division I national letter of intent.
VanVooren signed for D-I Marquette University in Milwaukee on Friday at Peshtigo High School, surrounded by family and coaches.
He finished the season with a school record in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles as a junior. He went to state in both races, along with the 1,600-meter relay team.
At the beginning of the year, he didn't think all of that was possible, however.
"At conference when I broke 15, that's when I thought I really had a chance at something. I just got it from there," he said.
While he didn't see it, Peshtigo track coach Joe Nault said he saw VanVooren's promise on the first day of practice in 2018.
"I noticed he was a totally different guy than I knew the year before," Nault said. "He was bigger, faster, stronger. I could see the skill development right away and I was just hoping he could transfer that into the event and it's very obvious he did."
Marquette's coaching staff obviously noticed as well. Head coach Bert Rogers and assistant Rick Bellford recruited VanVooren, who was also pursued by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Valparaiso University and the University of Minnesota, where former Peshtigo track standout and state champion Brad Neumann recently attended.
In DII, Minnesota State University-Mankato and Viterbo University in La Crosse, where VanVooren's brother Jeremy ran track for a season, also pursued him, as did D-III UW-La Crosse.
VanVooren will pursue his athletic and academic career at Marquette, as he'll look to major in business at the school. He said that was one thing that stuck out during the recruiting process.
"They offer a great education and I can also compete and help the team out, so it's like a perfect fit," he said. "The coaches were really nice and really down to earth. They really got to know you and the campus just felt like home."
He still has one more year under Nault's tutelage at Peshtigo, however, and the sky's the limit, as he returns the second-fastest returning time for the State of Wisconsin in all divisions in 2019.
"I have big hopes," VanVooren said. I want to win state in the 110s and maybe the 300s. We want to win team state, so that's cool."
He's got the tools to win state on his own, and even more room to grow into some different roles in his athletic future.
"I see a lot of great things. From a coaching standpoint, from a physical development, what I know, he's got a lot of physical assets that coaches would like," Nault said. "He's tall, quick and he still has a lot of room to grow and get stronger. I see him packing on a lot of muscle and I wouldn't be shocked if they want him to be a decathlete."
No matter what the team achieves, VanVooren will likely be a leader during practices and meets.
"I've never heard the guy complain and the harder I made practices, if he wasn't at the front, he was near the front," Nault said. "He never complained about anything, regardless of what we asked him to do and he resembles a lot of the crew. They're all like that. Exemplary kid, very polite at the meets, never heard him say a cross word of the other athletes, he supports his teammates. All positives. He's a great kid."
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