In recent years, the Bradford Owls have continued to be one of the area’s best track and field programs. The program has been filled with excellent runners like Logan Caruso in addition to throwers such as John Eakin that have led Bradford to numerous District 9 titles as well as success at the state level.
One of those former Owls who has also made his mark as an athlete at the next level is Mitch Vleminckx. He is a sprinter and jumper for Slippery Rock University, and has found success in Division II indoor and outdoor track and field.
During his high school days, Vleminckx was a star athlete in both football and track and field. In fact, Vleminckx won four letters in each sport during high school. Additionally, he was named the District 9 James Manners MVP Award winner twice while also earning 13 District 9 medals. Vleminckx was also selected as a football player to play in the Frank Varischetti and Big 30 All-Star Classic football games. He played on both sides of the football, playing in the secondary as a cornerback on defense, and playing as a scat-back, a combination of a running back and wide receiver, on offense. The name to Vleminckx’s game, is unquestionably speed, and it is that speed that had college coaches recruiting him as both a football player, but also as a track and field athlete.
“Growing up, my dream was to play college football,” he said. “I received offers to do so at the Division III level, but I could not pass up the education and opportunity to participate in Division II track and field that Slippery Rock could provide me with.”
While he ultimately chose track and field, his career in football may not be over. As an exercise science major, Slippery Rock provides its students with opportunities to shadow as trainers in a variety of sports both at the university as well as at local high schools. This upcoming season, Vleminckx will be shadowing as a trainer the Slippery Rock football team, one of Division II’s best.
“I am really excited to be around the game of football again, especially one with so much talent. I am excited that one of my lifelong best friends John Eakin will be starting his redshirt freshman season on the team. We have been teammates for a long time, and I am excited to watch him complete his first college season,” Vleminckx said.
The duo was responsible for a large portion of the Owls’ offense during their time playing for Bradford High.
As a freshman at Slippery Rock, Vleminckx qualified for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) meet as a long jumper, and he finished 11th overall. It was a great start to his college track and field career as a jumper, and the future appeared to be bright. Heading into his sophomore season, Veminckx had high expectations for himself. However, injuries limited him in action as a sophomore. He was able to compete in three outdoor meets for The Rock and was named a PSAC Scholar Athlete for the second straight year. Heading into year three, Vleminckx hopes he can continue to show more improvement as both a runner and jumper. Though he realizes he needs to continue running and practicing his form jumps, his best option is to continue to work in the weight room.
“The lifting programs here at Slippery Rock have made a huge difference on my distances and times.” Vleminckx said. Being a student athlete and then studying the difference it can make in the classroom has shown me the difference it will continue to make over the next two years.”
While there are plenty of people Vleminckx credits for helping him achieve his dreams, he credits his parents Amy and John for their unparalleled belief and encouragement of him during his career as an athlete.
Exercise and sports are a huge part of Vleminckx’s life, and outside of track and field and football, the most common places to find him are in the weight room or out in the woods fishing. This summer, Vleminckx spent a week at Black Lake in New York fishing for bass, walleye, and pike.
With two more college seasons as a track and field athlete and as an exercise science student, Mitchell Vleminckx is hoping to continue his success in his best event of long jump while working towards improving as a sprinter and triple jumper, as well.