DOWNS — Forming a relationship with the Illinois State track coaches cemented Derek Wegman's decision to sign a national letter of intent to accept a partial scholarship from the Redbirds.
"They are going to push me to get better," said the reigning Class 1A state high jump champion from Tri-Valley High School. "I love the campus. I'm not going that far away."
In just his first season of high school high jumping a year ago, Wegman cleared a Tri-Valley school record 6 feet, 9 inches, a height only six others in Pantagraph area history have surpassed. In junior high, he was an eighth grade state runner-up at 6-0.
"Hopefully I can do some special things at Illinois State," said the 6-foot-4 Wegman, who has not chosen a major, but is leaning toward something in business or sports management.
Wegman also considered Iowa before choosing ISU.
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"I'm really excited," he said. "I love that place.”
Tri-Valley coach Todd Schneider called ISU a “great choice” with a “great program and people to work with” for Wegman.
Schneider said many track observers see a lot of room for improvement in Wegman, who also played basketball and football.
“His athletic ability is the most obvious (reason for his success),” Schneider said. “However, his competitive nature drives him to do his best. It also gives him reasons to want to learn how to improve. Playing basketball and football I think is a reason he wins so much.”