Dylan Schafer had a difficult decision to make.
The Marietta High senior, who is scheduled to graduate later this spring, is both a talented soccer player and track athlete. But at the next level, in college, it is sometimes hard for a freshman student to juggle two sports and studies.
"I thought about playing soccer, but then I thought I'd have a better chance of running track in college," Schafer said.
Said MHS boys track and field coach B.J. Mayer, "He's a really good soccer player. But his big upside is track."
On Wednesday in Sutton Gym, Schafer signed a National Letter of Intent to run track and continue his education at West Liberty University in the fall. He will be receiving a scholarship, "between 10 and 15 percent, now."
Schafer said he also considered going to Coastal Carolina University, Robert Morris University, Tiffin University, and UNC-Asheville.
"I would've just been walking on (in track) at those schools," Schafer said.
Schafer is planning to major in business management, marketing at West Liberty.
"There was a lot of schools I was looking at," Schafer said. "But West Liberty coach (Dave) Bell was the only one who stuck with me and kept calling me."
West Liberty is an NCAA Division II school and a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC). The 2011 Hilltopper men's track and field roster features 14 male thinclads, three of whom are distance runners.
"The 800 is Dylan's main event," Mayer said. "He's been one of better mid-distance runners since he was a freshman. He's been a good student, hard worker and a good leader for us this season. He's very coachable and will do anything I ask of him.
"I think at the next level (college), they may look at him in the 1500. I believe his better (track) days are ahead of him."
Currently, Schafer is enjoying a fine spring on the track. Last Friday night at the Russ Parsons Invitational at PHS Stadium Field in Parkersburg, he covered the 800 meter run in a winning time of 2 minutes, 04.60 seconds. He also helped the Tiger 4 by 400 relay and 4 by 800 relay teams capture first in a clocking of 3:36.11 and 8:34.97, respectively.
Earlier this season, Schafer was one of the legs on the school record-setting 4 by 1600 relay team that ran an 18:37.64 mark at the Dover Relays. The following Tuesday at the Marietta Night Relays at Don Drumm Stadium, Schafer and his teammates then broke another school standard - the distance medley - in a time of 10 minutes, 50 seconds.
At last year's regional at Pickerington, Schafer ran the 800 in 2:00.26, good for an 11th-place finish.
Only the top four advanced to state and the top eight placed.
"I ran the fastest race I ever ran," Schafer said. "I'm pretty close to that this year, about a second off. I hope to be under that before districts at least."
Schafer is the son of Mark and Kathleen Schafer. He has an older brother Michael and younger sister Olivia.
"I just plan on having a lot of fun in college, and lowering my times a lot (in track)," Dylan Schafer said.