GREENFIELD — There is no such thing as not enough time. Greenfield-Central senior Syrus Fletcher firmly believes if you want something badly enough, you will make time for it. No excuses.
So far, in his four-year career at Greenfield-Central, Fletcher has wanted a lot and made time for almost all of it.
The four-year Cougars cross-country runner owns one of the program’s top-10 5K times after having never competed in the sport before high school. He claimed the starting catcher spot on the baseball team last season.
His 4.2 grade-oint average, volunteer work and membership in more than a dozen school clubs have helped him earn acceptance into the College of Engineering at Purdue University.
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He has applied for more than 30 scholarships to help pay for college.
He was recently named Indiana’s Wendy’s High School Heisman for his combination of academic and athletic accomplishments.
That’s the short list. There’s much more to Fletcher, and now he’s set his sights on yet another achievement: playing two sports in one season.
Fletcher aims to earn varsity letters — and lead his team to championships — in baseball and track and field this year.
The dream of playing two sports in one season came to him during his freshman campaign. It took some time, however, for inclination to collide with inspiration.
Last year, Fletcher found his inspiration. All he had to do was look across the baseball diamond. As the Cougars’ starting catcher, Fletcher witnessed Shelbyville’s Daniel Kuhn bombard Greenfield-Central pitching with six hits during the Golden Bears’ sweep of a Friday night doubleheader.
The fact that it was Kuhn undoing the Cougars was fitting, Fletcher said he remembers thinking. After all, it was Kuhn who helped the Shelbyville cross-country team steal a pair of Hoosier Heritage Conference titles from the favored Cougars. And it was Kuhn playing baseball and running track at the same time for the Golden Bears, who were becoming menaces to Greenfield-Central and the rest of the state on the track.
Fletcher was envious. For three years, he had wanted to run track with his cross-country brethren but did not know it was possible.
Kuhn, who went on to win a state track title in the 800 meters in June, proved it was. He originally committed to Trine University for baseball but couldn’t turn down a late offer from Indiana University to run track.
“It wouldn’t be fair (to me) to compare us,” Fletcher said of Kuhn, who parlayed one season of high school track into the Division I scholarship. “But the fact that he was able to play baseball and track at the same time and be successful … something clicked. Maybe I could do both, too.”
With that in mind, Fletcher finished off his cross-country season last fall, took a week off, then got back to work. He began training for track and baseball before even securing permission from the school to enlist in both programs.
Regardless, Fletcher knew if he wanted to not just play but to excel at both sports, he had to begin preparing.
When he finally worked up the courage to approach the athletics department, including track coach Scott Burton and new Greenfield-Central baseball coach Rob Miller with his request, he found they were both more receptive than he could have hoped.
“For a kid like Syrus, it was a no-brainer,” Miller said. “If it was someone else, I probably wouldn’t have encouraged it.”
That is because Miller knew what Fletcher — who has vowed to put baseball above track when scheduling conflicts occur — was in for, but believed the senior, as he had been his entire Greenfield-Central career, would be up for the challenge.
For the past couple months, Fletcher’s will has been put to the test, as his schedule has barely included time for sleep.
A normal weekday, he said, consisted of him waking up around 5 a.m. — or as he put it, the only time of day he regrets his decision. From 6 to 7:30 a.m., he hit the gym for baseball practice. Then from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m., he’d work on hitting drills. After that, he’d go to school until 2:30 p.m., and afterward, he’d have track practice and sometimes weightlifting.
When is there time for homework?
“Sundays,” Fletcher said with a smile. “And I get a lot done during school. I’ve learned not to waste any time. An extra 10 minutes here and there adds up quickly. … I also make sure I don’t put off things I can do today. Sometimes, that means doing homework on Sunday that isn’t due until Thursday or Friday. … You just manage your time wisely.”
Miller said he knows Fletcher is unique among his compatriots in that not all of them could handle such an intense workload. But that is why he encouraged Fletcher to pursue his dream.
The Cougars’ skipper also said he did not want to be the one to step in the way of another of Fletcher’s goals: to walk on to the Purdue cross-country team.
Fletcher is not sure if he can or even will try, but he thought it was only fair to give himself the best possible chance to succeed.
“I’m excited to see what I can do after running for an entire year,” Fletcher said. “I’ve never done that before. I’m going to learn a lot about myself this season.”
Fletcher said he knows he’s asking a lot from his body. But that’s what he’s been training so rigorously for. And don’t think he will be asking for any favors at practice or during games.
“I don’t want them to treat me different,” Fletcher said, explaining that special treatment would defeat the purpose of what he’s trying to accomplish. “I don’t want them to take it easy on me. I don’t want this to be a cakewalk. … I expect to go hard each practice and each game. I don’t want to waste time out there.”
Though indoor track and field is not an IHSAA event, the season has started, and Fletcher’s work already has begun to pay dividends. Competing at Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday, he and the 4×800 relay team (Jason LaFord, Zach Bishop, Tyler Morris) qualified 20th with a time of 8:40.
Fletcher paced the group, finishing his leg in 2:05. According to Fletcher, though, there is much work to be done.
“These meets are not as important,” Fletcher said.
“We’re just getting (warmed up). Later in the year is when we want to excel. … We want to break the school record of 8:23, and I really think we have the guys to do it this year.”
Name: Syrus Fletcher
Sports: Baseball, track and field in spring; cross country in fall
Positions: Catcher, DH; 4×800 meter relay; 800 meter run
College: Accepted and likely attending College of Engineering at Purdue University