KENT -- Although sprinter Bobby Cruse didn't fare too well in the recent NCAA Division I and USA Championships, the Kent State senior climaxed a record-breaking collegiate track career -- with high expectations for a professional running career.
Cruse, the son of Shirley and Bobby Cruse and a graduate of LaBrae High from Newton Falls, failed to make the finals in both the 200 and 100 at the NCAA meet, and also in the 200 at the USA Championships, after winning an unprecedented four straight 100-meter championships in Mid-American Conference meets.
His final 100 MAC title came May 17-19 at Miami (Ohio) in Oxford when he won in 10.48 seconds. He also placed second in the 200 (20.96), and was a member of the runner-up 4x400 relay (3:09.72) and third-place 4x100 relay (41.19), helping Kent State to third place out of 12 MAC schools.
Still learning: "You have ups and downs and you hope the downs don't occur at key moments," said Cruse of the downs that did occur at the NCAA and USA meets. But, "Each meet is a learning experience where you hope to capitalize on any mistakes you make."
Primarily, Cruse said he is seeking consistency in his sprints, which he didn't achieve these last two meets.
"I'm either getting a good straight-away performance or a good a good curve performance, but not both. But sooner or later they will come together, and then that will be an extraordinary performance. That's really my main objective, and also to run the time that I am capable of running."
Eyes potential: Cruse is optimistic for the future as he embarks on his post-collegiate running career, with high hopes of finally actualizing his true potential and making the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.
Although Cruse has completed his collegiate track eligibility, he will return to Kent State to complete his academic requirements. He has a 3.0 grade-point average in his major, which is finance, and plans to graduate in May of 2002.
He also will use KSU as his training base for the next year, as he plans to turn professional, attract some endorsements and financial support and travel to meets overseas.
Cruse's sprints coach at KSU is Alonzo Webb, while his coach at LaBrae High was Ken Kilpatrick.
Plans: "I am going to turn pro and hopefully get some type of endorsement, preferably from Nike, and I plan to run overseas, just in Europe in different countries where there is a big meet or competition," he said.
His objective is to use the professional competition as a learning experience to increase his skills and speed, and as a springboard to the 2002 U.S. World and 2004 Olympic teams.
"I would like to do well in the meets and make the U.S. team for the World Championships. The World indoor tryouts are in March, 2002; and the outdoor sometime in June, 2002." said Cruse.
He said he just wants "to stay in shape and run in as many competitions as possible to get my name known internationally and get more endorsements. My ultimate goal is the Olympics. [And] this will be my first try at Olympics."
Glowing career: During Cruse's four-year career at KSU, he won nine MAC titles in all -- six in outdoor and three in indoor. His two other outdoor titles are 200 meters (1999) and 4x100 relay (1998). His three indoor titles are 55-meters (1998), 60 meters (2000) and 200 meters (2000).
He holds the KSU record in the 100 (10.19 in 1999), and also is a member of the school-record 4x100 (39.93, 1988) and 4x400 (3:09.43, 1999) relay teams.
Cruse had entered the NCAA meet May 30-June 2 in Eugene, Ore., ranked nationally No. 6 in the 200 and No. 17 in the 100 in the USTCA power ratings. But in the 200, he faltered to sixth in his heat in 21.01 and didn't advance to the finals. And in the 100, he was last in the preliminaries in 10.52 after slipping out of his starting blocks.
Then in the USA Championships earlier this month also in Eugene, Cruse failed to advance into the semifinals in the 200, placing sixth in his heat in 21.0.
Gallagher's bid: Cruse was joined in the USA Championships was pole vaulter Shannon Gallagher, a 1998 KSU graduate from Springfield Local High who now is a member of the KSU track coaching staff.
Gallagher, a former KSU gymnast who later shifted to pole vaulting, failed to make the opening height of 12-9 at the USA Championships.
She had qualified for the meet during last year's Olympic Trials when she was 10th in 13-6.
But the KSU highlight at the USA Championships was Kim Kreiner from Mogadore High, a 2000 KSU graduate who won the javelin with a throw of 182-11.
Kreiner currently is ranked No. 1 in the women's javelin in the U.S.