Jason Van Swol planned to use his official visit to the University of Illinois as a kind of test run.
It would be good preparation, he thought, for what to look for and ask about on future visits to track powerhouses Arkansas and Tennessee.
Then the defending Class AA 800-meter state champion from New Lenox Lincoln-Way got to the Champaign campus and started checking things out. By the time he left town, Van Swol had decided, "You know, I don''t think I need to take any more visits."
"When I met the guys and saw how they acted toward each other and how the coaches were with them, I knew this was the place for me."
Van Swol and sprinter Kendall McCroy of Peru, Ind., are the latest preps to sign national letters of intent with coach Gary Wieneke''s men''s track program. They join triple and long jumper Charles Burton of Louisville, Ky., and middle-distance runner Nick Gow of White Lake, Mich.
Van Swol is no stranger to the UI campus, having participated in one of Wieneke''s summer cross-country camps last year.
One of his most noteworthy track achievements also took place on campus. In early April at the UI Armory, he broke the state meet record for the indoor 800 formerly held by Illini junior Bobby True.
Van Swol won the race in 1 minute, 53.35 seconds. True''s mark was 1:55.19.
Besides winning the state outdoor 800 last spring, Van Swol has placed 18th and 12th the past two years in the state cross-country meet.
Such versatility and Van Swol''s 6-foot-5 frame have Wieneke likening the future Illini to one of his greatest runners.
"I hate to compare guys, but he''s kind of like Marko (Koers)," Wieneke said of the Dutch Olympian who won three NCAA individual titles as an Illini. "With that range and that speed, he definitely has the potential to be a great runner."
McCroy was Indiana''s state champion in the 400 as a sophomore and never has placed lower than third in the event at state despite entering last year''s meet with a hamstring injury. He also has finished second, second and sixth in the 200 at state.
"He''s a tremendous athlete," UI associate head coach Willie Williams said. "When he was a freshman, I didn''t know who this kid was, but we were watching the state meet and I got all excited because I thought he was a senior."
UI routs Greenville.
D.J. Svihlik smashed his 12th home run of the season and freshman Rob Fischer drove in seven runs as the Illini defeated Greenville College 25-1 on Tuesday at Illinois Field.
Illinois, which improved to 22-5 at home this season, jumped to an 8-1 lead after one inning and collected 26 total hits.
Fischer went 3 for 3, including two home runs, and freshman catcher Aaron Peelman was 2 for 3 with three RBI.
Winning pitcher Bob Burlage allowed one run on three hits in three innings.
Siebert, Berggren feted.
All-America basketball standout Ashley Berggren and NCAA wrestling champion Eric Siebert claimed the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor on Tuesday night at the eighth annual University of Illinois Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet at the Assembly Hall.
The award is given annually at each conference school to athletes who demonstrate proficiency in scholarship and athletics.
Lueken heads swim recruits.
Abbie Lueken of Lincolnshire was 1 of 11 recruits who signed letters of intent with UI swim coach Jim Lutz.