Regarded as one of the Midwest's premier distance runners, O'Fallon High School senior Patrick Perrier had dozens of scholarship offers from colleges throughout the nation.
But in the end it came down to a pure desire to become the best that was the determining factor for Perrier choosing to attend Stanford University.
"I want to be part of the best of the best and that is Stanford,'' Perrier said Wednesday. "When you talk about athletics and academics and everything else combined, it was just the best situation for me.
"I have aspirations of running professionally someday, it's there for me. I'm going to major in political science and Stanford has the No. 1 rated political science department in the nation, and I want to be able to compete for a national championship every year, and Stanford's vision does that.''
A five-time state medal winner in cross country and track and field, Perrier also considered Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Florida State, among others. But after making his official visit to the Stanford, Calif.,-based campus, Perrier knew he had found his collegiate home.
Perrier has given Stanford a verbal commitment and will join former Edwardsville standout Garrett Sweatt as members of the Cardinal next season. Sweatt is a sophomore at Stanford.
"Stanford wasn't always my top choice. In fact, this past summer it probably wasn't even in my top five,'' Perrier said. "But once I started researching schools and then went out to visit, I knew this was it. I just had to iron out a few more details first.
"I made my official visit earlier this fall. The place is just phenomenal."
A perennial top 10-ranked program, the Cardinal is coached by Chris Miltenberg and has a rich tradition in both cross country and track. Stanford has won four men's NCAA Division I national cross country titles -- including back-to-back crowns in 2002 and 2003.
The Cardinal has 12 Pac-10 titles and is ranked 12th in the NCAA Division I poll.
"I think if you ask any of the team members, they will tell you that they're disappointed with where they are ranked right now,'' Perrier said. "The seniors probably have never been ranked out of the top 5.
"They had the No. 1 ranked freshman recruiting class in the nation this year and hopefully I'm part of another top recruiting class.''
In Perrier, the Cardinal is getting one of the best distance runners in metro-east history. Third at the Class 3A state cross country meet a year ago, Perrier also placed third in the 3,200 meters this past spring at the Class 3A state track meet.
He also placed 19th in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship last fall and plans to run in the event again following the conclusion of the high school season.
Perrier also is the second O'Fallon runner in the past two years to commit to run at a major NCAA Division I program. Alex Riba is now a freshman at Texas A & M.
One person who has watched Perrier develop into an elite runner is O'Fallon coach Jon Burnett, who feels Perrier is a special athlete.
"I've had several runners go on to compete at NCAA Division I schools and do very well. But Patrick is the first one who will be going to a school which will compete for a national title each year,'' Burnett said. "There are a lot of people out there who have great talent. Patrick has both the drive and the talent, which is why he is going to get to go to Stanford.''
Perrier will compete along with his O'Fallon teammates this Saturday at the Class 3A Quincy Cross Country Regional.