WHS runners commit to colleges
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's track and field
team will have five athletes either sign or walk-on to college programs.
The latest athletes to commit to schools are distance runners Hannah Barbour and Haley Middlebrook. Barbour will attend Wheaton College, a Division III college in Wheaton, Ill. It's a member of the College Conference of Illinois-Wisconsin.
Middlebrook made a verbal commitment to walk on at Michigan Friday.
Since Wheaton College is a Division III university, Barbour will receive academic money from the college. Both Barbour and Middlebrook are four-year lettermen at Watauga.
“They've done a whole lot for our program,” Mountaineers coach Randy McDonough said. “Both have been to the state meet in cross country and in track for four years. They were strong as freshmen and hopefully they can end it on a good note in the next two weeks.”
Watauga hosts the state 4-A Western Regional at 11 a.m. Saturday at Jack Groce Stadium. Both played a part in Watauga's easy Northwestern Conference championship the Pioneers won at Lenoir-Rhyne College May 2.
Barbour qualified for the 3,200-meter relay and the 800 run. Middlebrook won the 800 run, and also qualified for the regional in the 1,600 and is Barbour's teammate on the 3,200-relay.
McDonough said Middlebrook's versatility is a key element to the Pioneers' success.
“Haley's got a lot of speed,” McDonough said. “She's gone back and forth between the sprints and distance. She's one of our most versatile athletes, so she's one of our most valuable.”
Barbour had made herself into one of Watauga's most reliable distance runners.
“Hannah's going to shine a little more because of her distance running,” McDonough said. “She's been in more individual events. She's had a great career.”
The two will be recognized with three other Pioneers. Reid Harris signed with Charlotte, Max Ruble will walk on at Charlotte and Andrew Vandenberg signed with Milligan College.
Harris holds the school record in the pole vault and also runs the hurdles. Ruble also is a pole vaulter, while Vandenberg is a cross-country runner and a distance runner for the Pioneers.