By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

With top three times in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races, Brendan Van Voorhis was already all over the McNary track and field record book.

Last week he continued to make his mark, becoming the first Celtic runner to sign with a Division-I program in 15 years.

Van Voorhis signed with DePaul University on Friday, April 14 in the McNary library.

“My coaches always talk about the kid that holds the record,” Van Voorhis said. “It would be cool if I could take that spot of the person they talk so highly of.”

He chose DePaul, a private school in Chicago, over similar opportunities at the University of San Francisco, Boston University and the United States Military Academy in West Point.

Van Voorhis visited all four schools and while San Francisco was equally enticing, DePaul ultimately gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse—a full scholarship: 70 percent athletic and 30 percent academic.

“I pretty much liked them equally and San Francisco is closer. DePaul gave me more money,” Van Voorhis said. “I like the feel of Chicago. DePaul is right by Lake Michigan so it’s super nice houses. I liked the kids. My host was really cool. The whole atmosphere was nice and it really made me want to be a part of their program.”

Van Voorhis began making his mark on the McNary program as a freshmen. Running with Brett Hildrebrand, Anthony Nguyen and Kyle Torres, the 4×400 relay team finished second at the state meet in 2014.

The following year, Van Voorhis, Torres, Austin Brown and Riley Moore placed third in the state in the 4×100. Van Voorhis, Brown, Nguyen and Levi Timmons then took third in the 4×400 in 2016.

“I’ve been lucky with the kids that I’ve had on the track team with me since I’ve been a freshman,” Van Voorhis said. “I’ve had good influences. It’s been a good time here at McNary and the track program here.”

Individually, Van Voorhis has placed sixth in the 400 at the state meet the past two seasons.

“He’s so talented so it makes it (my job) easy,” McNary head track and field coach Franklin Gauntz said. “He’s willing to try new things. He’s really coachable. He’s just a great kid and a wonderful talent. He just wants to be the best and you can’t ask for anything more.”

Van Voorhis originally wanted to play football in college but switched his Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) online recruiting profile to track and field during his junior year.

“Ultimately, it came down to my body,” Van Voorhis said. “In football, you get hit and beat up. In track I don’t get beat up at all.”

Van Voorhis was able to use his track speed on the football field, catching 32 passes for 943 years and 14 touchdowns last season, despite missing one game while on his visit to West Point.

“It’s kind of unreal honestly because I didn’t think that I was going to be D-I for track,” Van Voorhis said.

“You look at all of these programs like Oregon and Florida that are crazy kids and times. If the DePaul coaches think I’m capable of doing that, I’m going to take their word for it.”

DePaul has a strong track and field program of its own. The men’s team was crowned 2017 Big East Indoor Champions in February.

Van Voorhis saw a glimpse of that on his visit to Chicago when he came across the DePaul record boards.

“I thought this is the next level,” Van Voorhis said. “That’s where I want to be is competing in college and running crazy fast times like that.”

Van Voorhis, who has maintained a 3.8 GPA at McNary, plans to major in biology or chemistry and enter the medical field.