NORWALK, Conn. -- Eric Van der Els came to Brien McMahon High School as a freshman soccer and baseball player. He will leave in June as one of the school’s most accomplished distance runners as he heads to the University of Connecticut.
Van der Els, who won the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship meet, announced Tuesday he will compete for Huskies next year. He will run for long-time UConn coach Greg Roy.
Van der Els also drew interest from Virginia, Iona, Georgetown and Providence. He enters Saturday’s Class LL championship as the top-ranked runner in the state, according to MileSplit.com. His time of 15:24 for the 5k race at the FCIAC Championships is the best time at that distance among all runners in Connecticut. He will race in the Class LL championships, which begins at 10:55 a.m. at Wickham Park in Manchester.
Van der Els burst on to the running scene in 2013. After playing for the junior varsity baseball team in the spring, he began training for the Junior Olympics in late May. He won the New England championship and finished third in the 15-16 age group at the national championships.
His ascent continued last year, when he finished ninth in the State Open in cross country and 15th in New England. He won the State Open 3,200 in the outdoor season and took fourth in the 5k at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in June.
Van der Els was named the Norwalk winner of Sports Person of the Year. He accepted the award at the Fairfield County Sports Night earlier this month.
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