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Ellender sprinter headed to SLU

Ellender's Brian Verdin signed a national letter-of-intent to run track at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. (Photo by Chris Singleton/Staff)

As Ellender's Brian Verdin prepared to sign his track scholarship on Tuesday, he uttered three simple words to describe the moment.

"Four more years," the star sprinter said to family and Ellender administrators gathered at the signing ceremony on Tuesday.

Four more years of running track is exactly what Verdin will get after he signed a national letter-of-intent with Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

After completing a successful prep career, Verdin said he is thrilled at the chance to continue in college.

"It's a dream that I made it here," Verdin said. "I'm excited to get four more years. It's an opportunity that not a lot of people get. It took a lot of hard work. It's a great accomplishment to be able to compete on the next level."

Verdin ended his high school career in grand fashion at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state outdoor track and field meet on May 4. He won the Class 4A state championship in the boys' 400-meter dash with a time of 49.79 seconds.

Verdin had offers to compete on the college level from other schools such as Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State, but he said he felt more comfortable at Southland Conference school Southeastern Louisiana.

"When I went to visit, it felt like their team was kind of like our team here at Ellender," Verdin said. "It seemed like a family more than it was a team. They told me that they would take care of me, and they will help me wherever I need help. It's a lot closer to Houma also, so I'll be able to come visit home on the weekends."

Ellender track coach Terry Washington praised Verdin for his dedication and hard work in both athletics and academics. Along with all of his accomplishments in track and field, Verdin maintained a 3.0 GPA with a 20 on his ACT.

"It's not only good for him and his family, but it's also good for this program," Washington said. "To have a young man like Brian Verdin sign with Southeastern is going to be a big boost for our track program moving forward. He is a true definition of a student-athlete. The young man is a hard worker. We're going to miss him. He's a joy to work with."

Verdin, who also was the anchor leg runner on Ellender's 1,600-meter relay team, said he will focus on running the 400-meters at SLU. His best time in the event is 48.83, which was good enough for a third-place finish at last year's state outdoor track meet.

After competing at big high school meets throughout his career, Verdin said he is confident that he will adjust quickly to the college program.

"I'm ready for it," Verdin said. "I'm going to try to improve my time. I'm trying to aim for a 47 or better."

Washington said he thinks Verdin is a good fit for Southeastern's track program. Verdin is the third local track athlete to sign with Southeastern this year, joining the H.L. Bourgeois duo of Vanessa Williams and Raeven Scott.

"Southeastern is a good program," Washington said. "They have a good coach who is trying to build the program with great young men and women from Louisiana. Brian is going to be a big asset for that program. I'm looking for Brian to do some good things. He's an exceptional athlete. He's going to do well in college."

Washington said he uses Verdin's success as an example to younger athletes coming up in the program, and Verdin said he takes great pride in that role.

"I'm happy to be an example," Verdin said. "It shows all of the other students if I can do it, then they can do it too. Whatever they want to do, they can do it if they put in the work. If they don't put in the work, they won't do it."

After signing the scholarship on Tuesday, Verdin took time to acknowledge everyone who has helped him over the years.

"I'd like to thank both of my parents (Brian Sr. and Serena Verdin) for helping me on and off the track," he said. "They have always been there for me at home. I want to thank all of my Ellender coaches for their motivation and pushing me throughout the years. I couldn't do it without them."