BY CHAD DARE email@example.com
---- — DANVILLE — Just like his running style, Danville senior Johnny Leverenz had a plan when it came to selecting his college of choice and he executed that plan flawlessly.
On Thursday afternoon at Danville High School, the 2013 IHSA Class 3A state champion in the 800 meters and the 2013 state runner-up in the Class 2A state cross country meet signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Butler University in Indianapolis where Leverenz plans on running both cross country and track for the Bulldogs.
“It’s definitely special,’’ he said. “I was signing to a college where I’m going to be for the next five years. It’s an incredible experience.’’
Leverenz had multiple schools that were interested in his services, but Butler was the best fit for his criteria.
“It wasn’t a terribly hard decision, but I definitely thought it through,’’ he said. “I like that it is a private school. I wanted to go to a smaller school. (Butler’s enrollment is right at 4,000). And I wanted it to be close to home — it’s only an hour and a half away, so that will be easy.
“Ultimately, it’s prestigious academically and they have a good cross country and track team.’’
Butler, which has changed its conference affiliation this season from the Atlantic-10 to the Big East, was third in the league cross country meet behind Villanova and Providence. That snapped the Bulldogs’ string of 15 straight conference titles. A year ago in its final season of A-10 track, Butler was third in the conference meet.
With Leverenz signing on Thursday, it is the fourth consecutive year that Danville High track has produced an NCAA Division I athlete. The others are Alexus Jimson-Miller, last year to Miami (Ohio), Cirron Clark, in 2012 to Illinois State, and Matt Cleveland in 2011 to Vanderbilt.
Both Leverenz and Jimson-Miller were state champions last spring for the Vikings. Leverenz in the 800 and Jimson-Miller in the 100 hurdles.
“This is huge for the program,’’ said Todd Orvis, the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Danville High. “When Steve and I started eight years ago, going from six kids at the end of the season to what we have accomplished in the last few years, the program is back to where it was in the 1970s and 80s under coach (John) Eakle.
“Johnny has been a cornerstone and he is a big reason why the program is back where it should be.’’
According to Orvis, Leverenz has put in a lot of hard work to get himself to this point where he is going to be a collegiate athlete.
“When he came out as a freshman, we knew he was very talented,’’ Orvis said. “But I don’t know if anyone could have expected the things that he has accomplished and probably yet to accomplish this season. He deserves it. Johnny is a hard-working guy, and very coachable — a coach’s dream.’’
With his signing completed on Thursday, Leverenz can now completely focus on his senior track season.
“It was stressful because it was a huge decision, but it was fun at the same time,’’ he said, noting that he waited until after cross country season to really begin the process of choosing a school.
Leverenz said on Thursday that he is planning on majoring in accounting.
“It comes pretty easy to me and it’s fun at the same time,’’ he said.
The first indoor meet for Leverenz and the Danville boys track team is set for Saturday, Feb. 22 at the University of Kentucky.