After taking a year off from the track, Haley Dennard made a triumphant return last year, ending the year in Austin at the state meet.
Dennard finished seventh in the Class 3A 800-meter race, running a 2:22.87.
“I started back up my junior year to see what would happen,” Dennard said. “It turned out better than expected.”
With that performance, along with a 12th-place finish at the state cross country meet in the fall, Dennard will now get a chance to run at the collegiate level. The Decatur senior Tuesday signed a letter of intent to run at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.
Dennard said she looked at Dallas Baptist, Midwestern and TCU but decided Tarleton was the best fit for her.
“I visited several schools. Tarleton felt like home. The team and coaches seemed really nice when I visited,” Dennard said.
As a four-sport athlete who was a region-qualifying swimmer and all-district basketball player along with running track and cross country, Dennard is looking forward to focusing on one sport in college.
“I’m excited to see what happens,” she said.
Decatur track and cross country coach David Park expects Dennard to continue to improve.
“You don’t sign if you don’t have talent but she also has a great work ethic,” Park said. “She doesn’t have a long history running. She hasn’t come close to being as good as she can be.”
After helping the Lady Eagles to the state meet in cross country in the fall, Dennard said she started pursuing a chance to run in college.
“During cross country, I played with the thought of running in college,” she explained. “After regionals, I decided I really wanted to run.”
With her signing out of the way, she is turning her attention to getting back to Austin in May. She expects to run the 800 this week in Sanger.
“I’ve been worried about where I was going to go,” Dennard said. “Now, I can look past that and just run.”