Rebecca Craddock had everything mapped out.
The recent Brunswick graduate was coming off a stellar senior track season and had the college and coach she wanted for the fall.
Then everything changed.
When Dayton coach Sarah Haveman joined the Illinois track and cross country staff earlier this month, Craddock was sent into a hectic two weeks, but the Gazette MVP got her release and announced Thursday she committed to Illinois.
“I was really shocked and like ‘Oh, my gosh! What’s going to happen?’ said Craddock, who didn’t find out the news until after she ran in the June 3 state meet. “This summer was supposed to be all set and done and all my friends are going to their orientations, so I was very stressed.
“Thank goodness my parents kept it from me, because they knew for a couple of days. I kind of freaked out a little bit … Good thing they kept it from me.”
While Craddock placed second in the 1,600-meter run and third in the 3,200 to cap a weekend when she earned All-Ohio honors in three events, the following weeks were busier.
With the uncertainty at Dayton, Craddock was granted her formal release and then made a trip to Champaign, Ill., and also looked into her other top choice, the University of Pittsburgh.
“My first priority was to go out and see the campus because I obviously really like coach Haveman, so it was opportunity to go see it,” Craddock said. “I really, really liked campus. It was beautiful. It’s a lot bigger than Dayton, and when I was originally looking at colleges, I was looking at bigger campuses because it had everything I was looking for.”
Craddock received messages from Pitt and George Mason. While she was unsure how everything would play out, her relationship over the past seven months with Haveman, who will serve as the Fighting Illini’s distance coach, won out.
“It was important to me because, since November, she’s be the only college coach I’ve been talking with, and she’s been keeping an eye on me,” she said. “It’s been one-on-one with her, and I got to know her, so I definitely wanted to visit Illinois because I trust her.”
Carddock is undecided on a major but interested in biology or statistics. The school has a strong tradition in research.
After the stressful two weeks, Craddock can now look ahead.
“The stress was high at one point, but we got it back down to a normal level,” Craddock joked. “I think it was just the hardest to see my friends go to orientation and I’m like ‘Oh, my God. I don’t even know where I’m going to school.
“I’m really excited. My two-week break is almost up, so I’ll be training again soon and I’m just excited to meet the girls. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and excited for the next step.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.