In a span of seven weeks, Brownwood senior Cory Richardson turned himself from the top scorer on the Lions’ basketball team into a regional qualifier in the 800 meters — a feat he never imagined possible.

Now with his attention fully on track, Richardson is eager to see what he can accomplish at Tarleton State University, as he signed a national letter of intent Monday night with the NCAA Division II program.

“I remember back in my middle school years I’d get last at every meet in everything I ran,” Richardson said. “I never thought I’d have an opportunity to run in college so I’m really excited about it.”

Richardson finished second in the 800 at the District 6-4A meet in a time of 2:04.7, followed that with a runner-up time of 2:02.83 at the area meet in Mineral Wells and qualified for the Region I-4A finals where he placed eighth in a time of 2:02.94.

“I only ran seven weeks right after basketball season and got my time down to a 2:02,” Richardson said. “I’m pretty confident if I had two or three more weeks I could have gotten it down even lower. I feel like if I’m really committed to running, I can get that number down a lot.”

Brownwood track and field head coach Don Hood believes Tarleton coach Pat Ponder is exactly what Richardson needs as he embarks on a new adventure.

“I think Coach Ponder at Tarleton may be one of the best middle distance coaches in the country,” Hood said. “The kids really buy into his program and work hard, and it’s amazing how he can get a guy ready to run fast. Cory has a distance runner’s body, a great mentality and toughness and natural speed. If he buys into the training it’ll be fun to see what he does.”

Hood added that Richardson’s desire to run track in college developed recently.

“Cory made up his mind the last couple of weeks that he wanted to explore if there was some interest in him from area schools,” Hood said. “I’ve known the coach from Tarleton for a while and his daughter is a sprinter at Stephenville, so he’d seen Cory run a few times and jumped at the chance.”

Looking back on his high school athletic career, Richardson said, “Competing for Brownwood is one of the things I’m most proud of. I wanted to win in every sport and wanted to do whatever it took to help my team win, whether it was run the 4x400, on the court, or on the field blocking for running backs or catching passes. Playing for Brownwood really means a lot to me.”

As for his future at Tarleton, Richardson said, “I just want to be the best runner I can be. I want to get in there and give it everything I have. Whatever I end up running and whatever my time is, I’ll be satisfied as long as I give it my all.”