John Raffel

Sports Scene

Randy Gillon can’t wait for Jake McFadden to become a Michigan State Spartan.

Gillon is one of the assistant track and field coaches at Michigan State, and McFadden recently signed a national letter of intent to join the program this fall.

McFadden won two state titles in the outdoor track season for Clare last season, and he’s coming off a strong indoor season. At the 2011 state meet in Comstock Park, McFadden won the Division 3 title in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.36 seconds and the 300-meter hurdles in 39.15 seconds.

He had a good season last year. You want that type of athlete from high school who has had success,” Gillon said. “They have that competitive drive. For him to be a state champion, that’s a big deal.”

Clare coach Adam Burhans will be counting on McFadden to have a strong spring campaign for his team.

He definitely comes from a long line of fairly successful hurdlers that I’ve had over the last 10 years,” said  Burhans. “He gradually worked his way into being the best hurdler/sprinter we’ve had. He’s poised to defend his state titles in both the 110 and 300s. We’d like to see him in the open sprints.”

McFadden took advantage of indoor track season. He had a tremendous off-season,” Burhans noted. “He was state [hurdles] indoor runner-up to the defending state champion for Division 1. He had a great experience out in New York a few weeks back competing at the national level. He narrowly missed All-American honors, which is the top eight. He finished 12th.

“That was a three-day event. He had a tremendous experience out there. He’s off to a great start this year. He won the 60-yard hurdles [April 12 at Central Michigan Indoor relays] and a pretty impressive 200-meter dash.”

At Central, McFadden was a double winner in the 60-meter hurdles (8.1 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (22.5). Clare also got a a 4th place in the 800-meter relay from the team of James Simon, Jackson Gross, Todd Wysong, and McFadden (1:40).

McFadden said he preferred the coach and the environment at Michigan State, which led to his decision to go there.

I went down and watched some basketball and football games,” he said, adding that his main contact came with the sprints and hurdles coach Randy Gillon.

This is the first time that a track athlete from Clare has signed to run track at Michigan State, “so this is a pretty special day for us,” Burhans said at the official signing ceremony at Clare High School, at which McFadden and his parents were present.

Burhans noted that a lot of schools started looking at McFadden after his state championship performances last spring.

They also started looking at him harder this year based on his tremendous success at the indoor level,” Burhans said. “It wasn’t really until he broke eight seconds in the 60 hurdles….”

The University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University, and Central Michigan University were some of the other schools interested in McFadden.

“He’s expressed a obvious interest in studying engineering,” Burhans said. “MSU turned out to be the best fit for him.”

At MSU, McFadden figures he’ll run the 110- and the 400-meter hurdles.

He has become accustomed to the 110- and 300-meter hurdles in high school and has been working on the 60-meter hurdles for indoor track. It’s a race he’s seen a lot at MSU.

It’s a good race,” he said. “I’ve been getting good starts.”

McFadden said he started thinking about a college career during his sophomore track season. He started getting contacted by colleges the summer of 2010.

McFadden called going to State “an easy choice. They have the academic programs I wanted to take.”

We feel he’ll come here and make us better in a variety of ways on and off the track,” Gillon said.

The track program at MSU is “pretty solid,” McFadden said, adding that after the spring season, “I’ll probably see what they tell me,” and he anticipates conditioning and training year-round for the track season on the collegiate level, starting with the fall of 2012.

You like to have guys that have experienced success,” Gillon said. “He’s had success in in a number of different divisions. When I’ve gotten a chance to know him, he’s been very driven, very strong work ethic; he’s a multiple sport athlete and is very bright. He’s an all-around solid guy.”

But before he calls it a career on the high school level, McFadden still has some goals to reach at Clare.

I hope our team can win the state championship,” McFadden said. “I hope I can break the record in the state meet in the 110 hurdles.”

The 2012 team “has a lot of talent,” McFadden said.

He wants to improve in his steps during his hurdle races this spring.

As for signing a letter to run track at Michigan State, “it’s a great feeling,” McFadden said. “All my hard work and dedication paid off.”