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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Track & Field

Burrell finds talent at former high school


Head coach Leroy Burrell said freshman sprinter Eric Futch has a lot of potential in the 400-meter hurdles. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Head coach Leroy Burrell said freshman sprinter Eric Futch has a lot of potential in the 400-meter hurdles. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Before attending UH, freshman sprinter Eric Futch was told by head coach Leroy Burrell that he wasn’t fast enough.

Futch attended the same Pennsylvania high school as Burrell; so to prove him wrong, Futch broke all but two of Burrell’s high school records.

“It upset me a little when coach Burrell told me that, but it made me run faster through the years,” Futch said. “My senior year after I dropped a fast time and broke some of his records, he called, and I asked him if I was fast enough, yet. Then, we both had a pretty good laugh.”

During high school, Futch accomplished much more than scratching Burrell’s name off Penn Wood High School’s record books.

He broke a 32-year Pennsylvania state record in the outdoor 300 meter hurdles, won the 400 meter hurdles at the 2011 Amateur Athletic Union National Championship, earned All-Delco and All-State honors, and won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Indoor Championships in the 200 meters, the 4×200 and 4×400 meter relays. He finished up his senior year by being named the International Association of Athletics Federations World Juniors 400 meter hurdles champion.

“Eric’s talent is special. He has a really unique combination of strength and endurance. He is actually one of the fastest 400 meter hurdlers out there,” Burrell said. “He just needs to learn how to harness that. A lot of athletes have some of the same talents. The key is are you going to learn how to maximize those talents and that’s one of the things we are teaching him.”

Futch hopes to compete in the Olympics, running for the U.S.

The connection between Burrell and his fellow Penn Wood High School graduates makes them believe they can accomplish the same feats he has, Futch said.

“He knows what he’s doing. He been to this same stage, and he’s been to a stage higher than this as an Olympic champion,” Futch said. “I know he has my back because we are from the same place, so I just take notes on what he says, and then I run.”

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