OH Runner Makes College Decision

Posted on July 4, 2010 in Fall Sports, News, Spring Sports

Balser signs with Cowley Junior College

Published: Sunday, July 4, 2010 1:08 AM EDT
Justin Kenny

With offers from Big Ten cross country programs and other Division I schools, Cameron Balser went for the one sure thing he knew he could get at a smaller university — good coaching.

The Oak Hill track and cross country standout signed with Cowley Junior College outside Wichita, Kansas earlier this week to continue his academic and athletic careers beginning in the fall.

“The main reason for my decision was (Cowley Coach Vince DeGrado),” Balser said. “I come from a school with a great coach in (Paige Brunner), who is one of the best coaches I will ever have.

“I wanted to go somewhere with another great coach.”

DeGrado has led Cowley to four straight conference championships and have finished in the top five at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship meet the last four years.

Balser’s talents will fit perfectly into the Cowley cross country and indoor/outdoor track programs.

“Cameron is going to bring some serious experience to our program,” DeGrado said. “He is well coached and has seen great success already in high school.”

Balser will go down in Grant County history as one of the most accomplished cross country and track distance runners of all time. He was a seven-time state qualifier in track and cross country and was a four-time Class 2A First Team All-State in cross country. He won seven individual sectional titles, three individual regional titles and 13 individual conference championships.

In 2008, Balser was named the 2008 Small School Runner of the Year.

The decision to go the junior college route was also beneficial for Balser’s academic future.

“Ultimately, I believe Cameron made the best decision for himself and his future not only in the sport but also his schooling,” Brunner said. “Cameron wants an opportunity to run for a national title, he wants to have a chance to be an All-American and he wants an opportunity to run at a Division I school.

“Without a doubt we believe Cowley can offer and help with those dreams.”

Cowley had been an option for awhile for Balser, but the Oak Hill graduate wanted to consider all of his options. The distance was also a factor to ponder.

“The distance really wasn’t a huge issue for me,” Balser said. “The area around the school has all kinds of (running) trails and that is a huge plus.”

Despite just a two-year school, Brunner believes Cowley is a top program. “In my mind, (Cowley) is a Division I level program,” Brunner said. “It is amazing the level of assistance and experience Cowley can offer.”

Balser plans to major in international business and will consider running at another school after his two years at Cowley.

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