The Carroll-to-Indiana University pipeline just got wider and faster. Chargers track and cross-country standouts Jon Harper and Eric Claxton have announced that they will continue their running careers as Hoosiers.
“What do you know? It's crazy,” said Carroll coach Zach Raber. “We've had a lot of kids go down there. It's exciting for our program.”
Just in the past few years the Chargers' powerhouse programs have sent Chelsea Blanchard, Samantha Ginther, Robby (Kleber) Nierman and Brianna Johnson, all former all-state runners who have become varsity team members for the nationally ranked Hoosiers. Even IU's volunteer student coach, Michael Nussa, is a former Carroll standout.
Harper and Claxton were two legs of Carroll's 2012 IHSAA champion 3,200-meter relay team, which ran the second-fastest time in state finals history. Two weeks later they helped the relay team place fourth nationally at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in North Carolina. This October, they helped lead the Chargers to second place at the IHSAA cross-country finals in Terre Haute.
Harper placed 13th at the state meet to earn all-state honors.
“I visited a lot of places but when I was IU, it just felt comfortable,” Harper said. “I could envision myself down there next year, on the team.”
Harper combines speed (1 minute, 54 seconds in the 800) and strength (15:30 cross-country 5K).
“The (Indiana) coaches see me running the 5,000 meters in track, maybe even the 10,000,” Harper said. “I look forward to moving up from the 800 and 1,600 that I've run in high school.”
Claxton brings substantial upside, having run only two full years in high school. (He played soccer in ninth and tenth grade.) His natural leg speed (1:54 in the 800) has him pegged for middle distances on the track team.
“The (Indiana) coaches want me to concentrate on track right away,” Claxton said. “I'll train for the 800 and 1,600.”
Claxton's college decision was an easy one: He was bred to be a Hoosier and wearing an IU uniform is a dream come true.
“My parents went to IU, a lot of my relatives went there, my sister is there,” Claxton said. “I've wanted to go there my entire life.”<
Not only will Claxton's family be there, so will his Carroll running family, including Harper. The two have been cross-country teammates since third grade at Perry Hill Elementary and then at Maple Creek Middle School.
“Yeah, that's cool,” Claxton said. “To think we've been teammates all the way through? Wow.”