Rock Bridge senior Andrew Hauser has put himself among the state's All-Time great high school preps with his performances over the last 3.5 years. His resume made him a highly coveted recruit with many colleges interested in getting his commitment to continue his running and academic career at their schools.
His parents both competed in college (Southern Illinois University), his brother and former teammate Matthew, a state champion and college junior (Kansas State), and his former teammate Ian Kemey a college freshman (Oklahoma State), and longtime Rock Bridge coach Neal Blackburn has sent many kids off to the college running ranks; giving Andrew plenty of resources for counsel and sounding boards when needed.
Hauser announced his college decision two weeks ago and he is staying close to home. Extremely close. Hauser committed to the University of Missouri and signed a letter of intent at a ceremony at Rock Bridge in Southwest Columbia on Wednesday.
MileSplit spoke to Hauser last week to hear about his decision.
In June, having just finished his 13th year as Mizzou's Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, Brett Halter hired Kyle Levermore to assist Head Cross Country Coach and distance coach Lindsey Anderson, taking Stephen Smith's place after Smith left coaching to work full-time in the running industry.
Levermore is a New Jersey native who ran at Oregon and Arkansas and who coached at Georgetown University for the previous 4 years. A few weeks later, Anderson got an offer she couldn't turn down. The Utah native, Weber State All-American and alum, and 2008 USA Olympian in the steeplechase accepted an offer as an assistant coach and head coach in waiting at Weber State with and for her former coach. After a year in the Black and Gold, Anderson returned West to make her second stint coaching at her Alma mater.
Rock Bridge Sr Andrew Hauser on Mizzou Commitment
Halter was pleased enough with Levermore, that rather than seek a replacement for Head Coach Anderson, he hired two more assistants instead. The NCAA increased the number of coaches and staff that can actively assist athletes this year. Mizzou added a pair of young coaches and recent NCAA All-Americans who had worked in varying positions at NCAA Division I schools recently. Paige Duca starred at Boston College and Tanner Anderson did the same at Oregon and Washington for Mauricia and Andy Powell.
The group has worked diligently over the last few months to attract the best distance talent from around the country, but Hauser and fellow Show-Me Stater Natalie Barnard of Lafayette (Wildwood) are at the head of this new era of Mizzou distance running.
A new era and the staff are some of the reasons Hauser decided to stay home and help write the upcoming chapters of Mizzou distance running.
"I think every hometown kid, I know it's a little bit different for me than maybe some other Missouri kids being in different cities, but I think everybody's always wanted to see Mizzou become what we always thought they could, and that was always kind of in the back of my head."
The staff's work paid off.
When asked what his pitch to other high school preps would be to sell them on joining him at Mizzou, he mentioned the things Mizzou and Columbia have to offer, but more importantly he said they shouldn't just listen to what he says, but to watch what he and his Mizzou teammates do.
"I would say for the younger guys, honestly, just watch and see what happens first. I can tell everybody the same pitch... 'we're building something here and this time, it's different', but rather than just say something, I believe in going out there and doing it. And so, I would say, for those for those young guys that are thinking (about MU), give us a year, and let us prove to you...we can make a difference in the SEC. We're going to be developing runners and doing the right thing...we're building something here in Columbia."
He also mentioned the resources in Columbia, including those that help make it one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the Midwest. "We have every every reason to be perfect. Growing up here, (Columbia has an) unbelievable trail system. (Also) it's the SEC. You've got some of the best equipment and finances and food and all of that stuff to get the job done. And, all that stuff is great, but if we can't put it all together on on race day for everybody to see, it doesn't mean anything. So I would just say let us let us prove to you guys that it's a new Mizzou."