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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Dutch runner must overcome hurdles to pursue his dreams

Craig Levine
Bas Van Leersum is one of the leading athletes on the City College track team this year, as both a hurdler and a sprinter, Thursday, March 5, at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara.

The stakes are high for sophomore Bas van Leersum, whom must prevail in track and field in order to stay in the United States.

Van Leersum moved from the Netherlands to Santa Barbara and joined the City College track team with the intention of transferring and obtaining a full scholarship from a four-year university.

He always dreamed about living in the States, but cannot afford to stay unless he receives a large chunk of scholarship money to support him. He pushes himself six days a week at practice in order to acquire attention from college coaches.

“I seriously emailed about 300 coaches,” he said. “I looked up every Division I school with a track program.”

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Van Leersum set a school record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 53.32, Feb. 20, at the Western State Conference relays in Ventura.

“Surely his confidence is high after running a personal best two weeks ago and getting the school record,” head coach Scott Fickerson said. “I’m sure he will do very well this season and will find a place to continue his success at the next level.”

Van Leersum placed seventh in the 400-meter hurdles at the state championship meet last spring, and placed second at the Dutch Junior Nationals before moving to Santa Barbara. But he hasn’t always been at the top of the pedestal.

He may have been the fastest kid in his elementary P.E. class, but this wouldn’t continue to be the case when he started out at the college level. Van Leersum had to put in a tremendous amount of effort to meet the standards of a collegiate runner.

“I worked my way up from being decent to being one of the better,” he said.

Van Leersum equates running to a love-hate relationship. Even when he feels like he wants to give up, he keeps pushing himself to go just a bit longer.

“It sounds funny, but basically during every hard workout you’re like why am I doing this? This is no fun,” he said. “And after every hard workout you feel happy that you did it.”

Staying at a college in the United States is looking promising for Van Leersum. He went on an official visit to Drake University in Iowa this semester. He must get his times down a little in order to get a scholarship. Jackson State University in Mississippi has offered him a full tuition scholarship.

“He really enjoyed his visit to Drake University and that helped him to realize that he could fit in at that level,” Fickerson said.

Van Leersum takes every race with caution, knowing what his future holds. These coaches are watching his times the entire season.

“Some people get stressed out if there’s an important meet and perform badly,” he said. “I use my stress and pressure to run better.”

Van Leersum says the biggest setback to his running career to injuries. He has pulled hamstrings on both legs twice and strained them once, causing him to miss time off and on for almost a year.

“That’s the worst for an athlete to get injured,” he said. “You can’t practice anymore, can’t compete anymore, it’s frustrating.”

Van Leersum’s teammates think of him as a great team player on and off the track. He traveled on his own time to watch the men and women’s cross-country team compete at the state championships in November.

“Not only is he a determined and committed athlete, but he is also so supportive of other athletes,” teammate Camille Schutze said.



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