by Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Wednesday night is going to be a big night for La Salle University track standout Chris Sanders.
The junior will run in the NCAA Semifinals in the 800 meters out at the University of Oregon.
“There’s a lot of good guys and a lot of good competition,” Sanders tells KYW Newsradio. “I’m nervous going into it, but I’m going to race hard and do the best I can and hopefully I can become top-eight in the country.”
Listen to the entire interview with La Salle’s Chris Sanders:
Getting this far has already earned Sanders at least Third Team All-American honors. Finishing top-eight (two top finishers in each of the three heats plus the next two fastest times) would earn him first team honors, as well in as a lane in the race for the national championship. He is just the ninth Explorer man to get to this point, and the first in the 800 meters.
This success is really impressive, even more so when you consider Sanders came to the track game relatively late at Upper Merion Area High School.
“I moved in with my dad my junior year of high school and he gave me an ultimatum,” Sanders says. “He told me I either had to have a job or play a sport. So I went out for the basketball team and I was alright. I was an alright basketball player. I was fast up and down the court. But I wasn’t the best player. So I talked to my brother and he was on the track team and he asked me to come out for the track team. My first year running track I was pretty good and my senior year I was second in the state of Pennsylvania and I did track instead of basketball. From there I moved on to La Salle to a bigger track program.”
Sanders set a school record in the 800 meters last week in the NCAA East Preliminary Round, finishing in 1:46.65.
No matter how this race develops, Sanders says he’ll be ready.
“I don’t really have a style of racing,” Sanders says. “It’s just however the race goes out, I just adapt to the environment of the race and try to run my hardest.”
Should Sanders advance, the national championship race will be run on Friday night, also in Oregon.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.