Kornelius Klah jumping from Pennsbury to George Mason

FAIRLESS HILLS — Pennsbury senior Kornelius Klah just started running track events in middle school. That said, it’s a little bit of a surprise that he’s taking his game to the Division I level.

Klah recently committed to running track next year at George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.). He says he had doubts himself entering the halfway point of his high school career.

“At the beginning of my 11th-grade year, I didn’t think I was going to run track in college,’ said Klah. “Then when I went to districts that year and all the hard work started kicking in.

“I was able to make it to the next step.’

Klah made his commitment to GMU known in a signing ceremony held recently at Pennsbury TV Studios located on the second floor of the East Campus. It was a big day for Klah, who made his announcement alongside teammate Uche Onuoha, who is headed to Howard University and will compete on the track circuit close by in our nation’s capitol.

“I can’t really feel anything right now,’ said Klah. “It’s too surreal right now.’

A hurdler who also competes in the jumps, Klah was also looking at Kentucky, North Carolina, Agricultural & Technical and Rhode Island.

“When I got there, it felt like the right place,’ said Klah of his official visit to GMU.

“They made me feel really comfortable and I was able to open up. I had some really good moments with the team.’

Pennsbury track coach Micah Wright says GMU is the right place for Klah.

“George Mason is a great school, academically; he’ll fit right into that program,’ said Wright. “He had talked to some other coaches — some big-time schools — but ultimately, I think he made the right choice because of the (connection) that he felt with the coaches.

“It’s a good fit for him.’

Klah competes in several hurdling events at Pennsbury as well as the high jump and the 200, 300 and 400-meter dash. His favorite is 110-hurdles. Since sophomore year, he’s whittled his time in the event from 14.97 to 14.27. In the 300 hurdles, he’s chopped a lot more off — from 45.48 as a freshman to 39.24 as a senior.

In indoor states as a senior, Klah captured a third place medal in the 60-meter hurdles. A national qualifier, Klah took first place in the New Balance Nationals Emerging Elite competition held recently at the Armory in New York. His fastest time in the event is 8.06, down .84 from 8.90 three years ago.

As a freshman, Klah’s best time in the 400-meter dash was 54.36. Now, he’s completing the event in nearly 50 seconds flat. His personal best in the high jump is 5-8, outdoors. Indoors, it’s 5-10.

“He put in a lot of work to get to this point where he is today,’ stated Wright. “This is a proud moment for him and is family — a testament to how hard he’s worked.’

As a high school junior, Klah broke the school record in the 110 hurdles.

“He came on the scene really strong last year,’ said Wright.

Klah worked on perfecting his game last summer, setting new personal bests in several events. That’s when the offers started pouring in from Division I schools, said Wright. At the beginning of this school year, Klah did not take the fall off and continued to perfect his skills in the technical events, as Wright calls them.

“Uche and Kornelius do what we call the technical events. They’re not just runners, they’re hurdlers and jumpers,’ the coach explained. “They’re technical events that require a lot of hours of practice to master what you are trying to do.’

From his time put in on the practice field, Klah says he’s grown close with Onuoha, who says one of the reasons why she chose Howard was its half-hour proximity to George Mason and her buddy Kornelius.

“She’s like my sister,’ said Klah, of Onuoha. “Ever since 10th-grade, we’ve always been near each other.

“It always seems to be me and her practicing the hurdles.

Both senior members who have competed on the track for the last four years, Klah and Unuoha are a pair of senior leaders who take that status seriously.

“They do a lot for the team so there are times when I work with them exclusively,’ said Wright, “because of how much they want to get better and how much they help others around them.’

In turn, Klah says coach Wright and coach Tim Cass have prepared him to take this next step.

“They have fully prepared me,’ said Kornelius. “At meets, they let me be independent.

“They gave me my own space — allowed me to have that for myself and at the same time, made sure I was fully prepared for my events.’

It appears Klah is fully prepared to make the leap to the collegiate track & field circuit.

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