'Hootie' heads up 11 Fayetteville signees

Raw but versatile track athlete inks with Oklahoma State

Posted: April 16, 2017 at 1 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Fayetteville senior Hootie Hurley warms up Friday, April 14, 2017, for the pole vault during the Bulldog Relays at the Fayetteville High School outdoor track. Hurley signed a letter of intent to compete for Oklahoma State.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Harrison Hurley sat centerstage during Fayetteville High's signing ceremony on Wednesday.

Ashley Breathitt

Elizabeth Costner

Grant Hynes

Morgan Martin

Jackson Sloan

Grace Cape

Ben Farrell

Bailey Lindsey

Quin Rudzinski

Cody Smith

The Bulldogs' senior trackster was the lone Division-I bound player at a spring signing event as he signed a national letter of intent with Oklahoma State.

In two short years, he's transformed from a novice to an athlete with the kind of upside college coaches crave. His main event is pole vault, but he also has competed in long jump, triple jump, sprints and discus, which may lead to a college career as a decathlete.

"Sophomore year I started running track and I never really thought anything of it, I just did it for fun," Hurley said. "That quickly escalated and last year I started getting lots of calls from coaches from Baylor, Ole Miss, BYU, TCU and other big schools. I was like, 'Dang man this is awesome.'

"I know there are guys better than me, but I've never really had coaching specifically for my event. Pole vault is almost like a foreign language. Coaches saw me at big meets and saw me jumping what I did with bad form and real raw."

Hurley, who's nicknamed "Hootie," originally figured he would ink with Baylor, but a trip to Oklahoma State's campus in Stillwater changed all that. He had grown up following the Cowboys a bit because a friend's father played football there and would take Hurley to games.

"I went to OSU and said, 'this is for me,'" Hurley said. "I liked the team. There are a lot of great guys, the coaching staff was awesome and really down to earth. I think they'll help me a lot and it'll be a good mix and I'll fit in well there."

Other signees who believe they've found the right college "fit" on Wednesday were Ashley Breathitt (Arkansas Tech, basketball), Grace Cape (Hendrix, soccer), Elizabeth Costner (Ouachita Baptist, track/cross country), Ben Farrell (Williams Wood University, track/cross country), Grant Hynes (Northeastern State, golf), Bailey Lindsey (Hendrix, soccer), Morgan Martin (Oklahoma Baptist, swimming), Quin Rudzinki (Lyon College, baseball), Jackson Sloan (Northwest Florida State, baseball) and Cody Smith (Harding, baseball).

Breathitt, a versatile player with the ability to play four different positions, is one of five signees off of this season 7A state championship squad and said she "loved" Arkansas Tech while on a visit with her family. She plans to pursue a career as a physician's assistant.

"I felt comfortable there," Breathitt said. "It's not too far away from home, but far enough that I'll be on my own."

Fayetteville had three signees off of its baseball team, which currently leads the 7A-West with a 7-1 record. While infielders Rudzinski and Smith elected to ink with in-state programs, Sloan decided to take his skills to a junior college in Niceville, Fla. He has speed in the outfield while batting leadoff for the Purple'Dogs, but is projected as a pitcher in college.

"I had a chance to play at some Division I schools as a preferred walk-on, but I knew I needed to have some years and experience on the mound and just really develop," Sloan said.

Cape and Lindsey, the 'Dogs two soccer signees, chose Hendrix because it "close to home" and offered strong academics with an "improving soccer program," Lindsey said. Cape, who plays goal keeper, called it "a perfect win-win" because of the soccer program and the "85 percent acceptance rate to medical school, which is what I've wanted to do for a long time."

Farrell said Williams Wood in Fulton, Mo., "felt like a good fit," while Coster, Fayetteville's other track/cross country signee, said Ouachita Baptist "felt like home," because several family members had attended the school.

Martin and Hynes are headed to Oklahoma schools. Martin will swim at Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee. Hynes said the coaches and a chance to compete early impacted his decision to golf at Northeastern State in Tahlequah.

Sports on 04/16/2017