After picking up indoor track his sophomore year in order to keep busy during the winter, Staples hurdler Robert Cross became a cornerstone competitor for Coach Laddie Lawrence.

Cross was previously involved with the technical side of Staples Players, mainly building sets. He worked on "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," "Beauty and the Beast," and "The Wiz," but with no productions during the winter, Cross found himself with some time on his hands. He picked up track because he had "heard it was fun," and soon enough he fully committed to the track team and didn't have time for Players.

"At first, Robert didn't know a hurdle from a hole in the ground," said Lawrence. "But he quickly evolved into one of the best hurdlers. He was a student of the hurdles."

Cross ran cross country in the fall to "stay in shape," hurdled in the 50 meter indoor during the winter, and the 110 meter outdoor in the spring. Highlights of his senior year included a second place finish in the 110 meters in the FCIAc championship and seventh in the Class LL championships.

After being named Staples Scholar-Athlete for outdoor track, Cross will continue to hurdle next year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, a Division III program. Cross decided on the school before deciding to run. "I'm looking forward to it," said Cross. "I'm going to be hurdling there but I'm not going there to hurdle."

The school was a perfect fit for him on all levels.

"I knew I wanted to go to a strong engineering school and I really loved the city of Pittsburgh," said Cross.

A big reason why he has the opportunity to run track there is Lawrence, who Cross called "a big part of me sticking around and enjoying track so much."

Another standout was captain Jon Foster. "Jon led by example," said Cross. "He worked hard and showed us what needs to be done if you want to succeed."

As far as actually learning skills goes, previous hurdlers were a big help. "[2009 graduate] Pip Turegano passed his skills on to Robert, and now Robert has passed his on to the kids coming up behind him," said Lawrence. "It's a good way to keep an event going. They actually do better that way than when they're listening to me."

Lawrence calls Cross "helpful, cooperative, responsible, dependable, and loyal to the program," in other words, a great asset to the program.

"You couldn't ask for a better kid," said Lawrence. "I'm sure he will succeed in his future."