East Central senior long-distance runner Chandler Underwood will keep competing at the college level, and he will be doing so for his dream school.
Underwood said Monday that he has verbally committed to walk on at Mississippi State, where he will study computer science on an academic scholarship.
Underwood had long pursued an opportunity to run both cross-country and long-distance events in track at MSU, but he had heard little in return from the staff.
"I've been trying to talk to them for a while, but I couldn't get anything out of them," Underwood said Monday. "Last week, I sent them an email. They called me and offered me a spot."
South Alabama, Mississippi College and William Carey had all talked with Underwood about running for them, but he always had an eye on competing for the Bulldogs.
Underwood kept improving on his times and those numbers helped him land the opportunity to walk on in Starkville. He recently went from 5-flat in the mile a year ago to 4:37.
Underwood claimed gold in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs in Class 4A at the MHSAA Track and Field State Meet in Pearl on May 6. He won the 1,600-meter run by more than 12 seconds with a time of 4:40.25 and the 3,200-meter run by almost 32 seconds with a time of 10:03.13.
Underwood also won first place in the Class 4A cross-country meet in November with a time of 17:14.8.
Much like the MSU coaches, Underwood didn't believe he could compete on the college level until this school year.
"It never crossed my mind until six months ago," Underwood said. "I didn't think it was a possibility to run at this level. I know it's kind of cliché, but it is a dream come true."