Prep Track & Field: Burgin's Beckerson, Mercer's Qualls to sign with Kentucky Wesleyan
Alex Beckerson of Burgin plans to sign today with Kentucky Wesleyan, where he will run track and cross country along with friend and local rival Bryant Qualls of Mercer County. (Mike Marsee / February 7, 2013)
The two runners, Beckerson of Burgin and Qualls of Mercer County, have been friends for most of their lives and rivals for almost as long. Now they’ll be teammates for the first time, as both have committed to run for the track and field and cross country teams at Kentucky Wesleyan.
They plan to make it official today at a joint signing ceremony in Harrodsburg.
The joint signing is unusual for athletes from different schools, but both runners love the idea of sharing their moment with the other. Qualls was the first to commit to Kentucky Wesleyan a few weeks ago, and he approached Beckerson with the idea.
“I think it was sort of a mutual thing,” Qualls said. “I asked him if he wanted to, and he said he was thinking the same thing.”
The two boys have known each other since the first grade, when both started school at Burgin. Qualls moved to the Mercer system the following year, but their paths have crossed dozens — perhaps hundreds — of times at track and cross country meets.
“We’ve been friends through track and cross country. I couldn’t really get away from him if I tried,” Qualls said.
Now they plan to room together at Kentucky Wesleyan, and each of them said having a friend at hand will be a plus at a school where they won’t know many people.
“That’s going to help a lot,” Beckerson said. “And I’ll be able to run with him as a teammate instead of running with him as an opponent.”
Both runners are excited about what the future holds for them at Kentucky Wesleyan, where they’ll be part of a brand new track team that is currently in its first season.
“I know we’re going to be competitive,” Qualls said. “They’ve got a good (recruiting) class ... and there’ll be some great guys down there at the beginning pushing each other’s pace. I think we’ll have a competitive team that can compete for conference championships in track and cross country.”
Beckerson said he’s excited about coach John Blackwell’s one-event rule for track meets. Instead of running four miles’ worth of races as he does at a typical high school meet, “I’ll only run the 3,000 steeplechase, or the 1,500, for example. That’s really different, and I found that to my liking.”
Not that the runners won’t be busy. Between cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, they’ll be maintaining a year-round schedule
Qualls, who plans to major biology and may work toward a career in physical therapy, said he made his commitment to Kentucky Wesleyan known just after Christmas, though he said he had made up his mind a few weeks earlier. He said he was enamored with everything about the school, from its running programs to its small classes sizes to its home city of Owensboro.
“Everything on my list that I wanted was there at Kentucky Wesleyan,” he said.
He said he talked to Beckerson about the school.
“I talked a lot about it, and he texted me and asked me where I was looking at while I was on my first visit,” he said. “I told him to email the coach, and him and the coach started (communicating).”
“He opened my eyes to that,” Beckerson said.
It wasn’t long before Beckerson took his own visit to Owensboro.
“I really liked the coach and what he planned to do with the program. The professors were really nice, and I liked the small-school environment,” he said.
Now the two will take the first step toward Kentucky Wesleyan together in their joint signing ceremony at the Old Owl Tavern.
“I was later making my commitment, and Bryant and his dad were already talking about that,” Beckerson said. “I’m kind of excited for it.”