Former Mansfield graduate Alex Van Herpen was the front runner for his Williams Baptist College cross country team at the Chile Pepper college men’s Division II race last Saturday in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Van Herpen ran a personal record 27:45.26 over the 8K race to beat his closest teammate by nearly one and one-half minutes. The clocking placed the former Tiger runner into 211th position out of 435 total DII racers.
The Mansfield native could certainly be described as an avid runner. While in high school, the distance specialist competed in the first annual Fort Smith Marathon. Last year as a freshman in college, Van Herpen again ran in the Fort Smith race to finish second overall.
With his marathon time, William’s top runner qualified and will be competing in this year’s prestigious Boston Marathon in April.
Van Herpen has been busy through his second year at the tiny Walnut Ridge school. Not only does he find time to race, he attends course work for a double major in religious languages and pharmaceutical technology. Not to mention, he also juggles three jobs.
That’s quite an accomplishment for a kid who was once strapped to a wheelchair for the better part of his freshman and sophomore years of high school. Unable to walk due to a mysterious illness that left him without feeling in his lower extremities, the motivated athlete suddenly found has strength sometime during that tenth grade year. From that point on, the Mansfield mystery not only learned to walk but he began to run.
Competing in cross country and track throughout the remainder of his high school career, Van Herpen parlayed that into a college scholarship after graduating from Mansfield in 2015.
At the Chile Pepper race, the second largest of its kind in the country, Van Herpen’s average time was 5:35 per mile. Pretty good feat for the former Tiger that couldn’t feel his feet once upon a time.