PARKERSBURG -Chandler Hamilton, whose performance at the Class AAA state track meet last month allowed Parkersburg High's boys team to win its first championship since 1965, is taking his immense talent to Wheeling.
Hamilton announced Monday he will join the track program at Wheeling Jesuit University this fall.
"It came down to Wheeling and West Virginia Wesleyan,'' said Hamilton, who the 100 and 200 titles at the state meet. "Wesleyan is on top right now. I want to help Wheeling be on top.''
Hamilton was impressed by the spirit of Wheeling coach Ricky Moore.
"He's a young guy coaching at a high level,'' said Hamilton.
Hamilton learned this past season just how much coaching matters. Rod O'Donnell, a former college coach at Kent State and Marshall, took over the Big Reds program and immediately turned it into a winner.
Hamilton was so impressed with O'Donnell that one of his goals upon graduation in Wheeling -where he plans to study exercise physiology -is to come back and be O'Donnell's assistant and eventual successor.
"Coach O'Donnell is one of a kind,'' Hamilton said. "I really look up to him. If I ever got into trouble, he would be the first person I call.''
O'Donnell heaped praise on Hamilton.
"Chandler is always very positive and upbeat,'' he said. "He's very focused and determined and that will make him a good college athlete. Wheeling is getting a great young man who will do whatever he has to do in order to succeed.''
Hamilton, who also was a standout running back for the Big Reds football team, already is preparing for track season. On Monday, he ran a dozen 100s, trying to maintain an even pace.
"I want to help Wheeling win the MEC championship,'' he said. "I know the competition will be tough. I ran against Dante Price for three years -I don't get nervous.''
Hamilton is a soft-spoken, humble young man who has great confidence in his abilities.
"Every time I stepped onto the football field I told myself nobody is better than me.''
He took that same attitude on the final day of the state track meet.
"I'm going to win this thing,'' he said. And he backed up those confident words with the best performances of his life. "We knew nobody had worked as hard as we had.''
The son of John and Chastity Hamilton -who also credits his uncle Jeremy Corbin for being a big inspiration in his life - is ready to pass the torch as Parkersburg's main sprinter to Logan Wooddell, who had an outstanding freshman season.
"If it wasn't for Logan, I might not have won states,'' Hamilton said.