One way or another, Simon Thorpe is going to have a grand experience in college.
The Dixon High School senior cross country and track standout made a verbal commitment this week to attend Grand Valley State, a Division-II school with nearly 25,000 students located in Allendale, Mich.
The Lakers are members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, with 16 schools in Michigan and Ohio. It is divided into North and South divisions.
Thorpe made an informal visit to the GVS campus in June, then made an official visit this past weekend with his father, Dixon cross country coach Evan Thorpe, after the conclusion of the Northern Illinois Big 12 cross country race held in Morris.
Thorpe stayed with team member Michael Matusiak, a freshman from Lyons Township, toured the campus and facilities, and trained with the Lakers on Sunday. That sealed the deal.
"It's a Division-I setting with a Division-II label," said Thorpe, noting the campus has a new track and a new library. "It's a school that really supports athletics, and it just seemed like the right fit for me."
Grand Valley State won the Director's Cup, an award given annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics for athletic success, for 8 consecutive years (2003-04 through 2010-11). The Lakers were runners-up the past 2 years.
Thorpe has been to the IHSA Class 2A state cross country finals 3 years in a row. He finished 23rd as a freshman (15 minutes, 8 seconds); 14th as a sophomore (15:04); and 21st as a junior (14:58).
Dixon is currently ranked seventh in the state, and figures to be in the hunt for hardware when the state meet is held Nov. 9 in Peoria.
Thorpe has a grade-point average of 3.95 on a 4.0 scale, and is ranked ninth among 169 DHS seniors. He plans to study physical therapy at Grand Valley State.
FYI: 3-time medal winner at Class 2A state cross country meet. ... Also standout in track. ... Will run next year at Grand Valley State in Michigan