by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Chase Cleveland’s favorite sport is basketball but his best is track, ever since ninth grade when he broke the team 400 record the first time he ran it.
“Chase is the best all-around runner we’ve ever had at Rogers High School,” said coach Matt Webb, praising his combo of natural talent and work ethic. “He is a good sprinter with the endurance to run up to 800 meters. He will set some records this year that won’t be broken in a long time, if ever.”
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior helped football and basketball teams win conference titles before gearing up for his prep track finale.
At the Mississippi 8 meet last year, Cleveland was second in the 400 (51.14), fourth in the 200 (23.66) and third in the 4-by-400. He did his best running at true-team sectional placing third in the 400 (50.59) and sixth in the 200 (23.33). At the regular sectional he took fourth in the 400 with 50.63.
As a sophomore he won the conference 400 (51.40) and took fourth and third in relays. His freshman season he notched thirds at conference in the 4-by-400 and 4-by-800.
He has lowered that 400 record several times to its current 50.59 and is part of the two relay records, 4-by-800 (8:16.66) and 4-by-400 (3:28.59) while getting close to the school 200 record of 23.24. He added the long jump this year, went 18-0 in his debut Tuesday and has a good shot at that record, too.
“Basketball has always been my favorite, and I will play at Northwestern in St. Paul next year,” said Cleveland. “Track will be an option, too, but I’ll concentrate on basketball.”
He enjoys track, too, of course, being as good at it as he is, but there’s a little more pain in track. The 400 is a bearcat, an all-out sprint but a quarter-mile long. “It’s not fun, that’s for sure,” he said. “In four or five meets last year, I threw up after running it. But all the work you do definitely pays off with results.”
In his first year of football since ninth grade, he made contributions at wide receiver and cornerback on a 9-2 team. “I knew it would be fun being with all those guys, and I had good relationships with the coaches, as teachers. And because of the success of the program.”
In basketball, Cleveland lettered as a junior and became one of the top seven this year. His highlight was a 23-point game in December against Anoka. “I had to guard (Tornado star) Mark Tyus and I was just really jacked up for the game,” said Cleveland. With his quick feet and long arms, he continued to draw assignments against standouts like STMA’s Michael Wiese and Zimmerman’s Jake Wilson.
The springy forward averaged 5.6 points and shot 53 percent for the 19-9 Royals, totaling 158 points, 33 assists, 53 rebounds and 23 steals. “Chase was arguably our most athletic player,” said coach Joe Belka, citing him as a solid defender and able to play above the rim. “He came ready to play each and every day.”
Cleveland said his goals for this track season are to get into the 49s, maybe even 48s, in the 400 and make state, add the 200 record, and be a contributor in long jump.
His chief interests outside sports are Fellowship of Christian Athletes activities and creative writing. One of his most memorable RHS moments was being called to the front of Gail Weber’s class to read his satirical essay. Asked where he hopes to be in a decade, Cleveland said, “I’d like to have published a novel by then.” And perhaps still own some Royal records.
THE CLEVELAND SCORECARD
Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents, Scott and Teresa; brother, Weston, 15 … Sports: football, basketball, track … Other activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes … Academics: 3.5 GPA … College plans: Northwestern of St. Paul, English/journalism, basketball … Ambition: publish a novel
Favorite stuff – Class: English … TV shows: “Parks & Recreation,” “Dexter” …. Movie: “O Brother, Where Art Thou” … Music: Metallica, Adele … Reading: Dean Koontz novels … Teams: “All the Minnesota teams, and Kansas basketball.” … Athletes: Derek Rose, Adrian Peterson … Food: bacon cheeseburger … Drinks: Coca-Cola, orange juice … Kickback: pickup football, basketball games; playing Skyroom on PS3 …. Place he’d like to visit: Rome