By Mark Carpenter – People’s Defender
Another local student-athlete has made a decision on continuing her athletic career at the college level as West Union senior Ashley Hackworth recently signed her letter of intent to become a member of the cross-country and track and field teams at Shawnee State University. With coaches, friends, and family present, the signing ceremony was appropriately held on the track at West Union High School.
Hackworth has had an outstanding career in both cross-country and track at West Union, holding five school records and winning nearly half the track races that she has competed in.
“I’ve always wanted to run track in college,” said Hackworth. “I really didn’t consider Shawnee until the last minute. Where I originally wanted to go was too far away from home. It came down to between Shawnee and Northern Kentucky”
“Shawnee is a little closer to home and I already know some of the girls who run there who are from around here. I made a visit and talked to the coach and then made the decision.”
West Union track coaches Jason Little and Buddy Niece are understandably proud of the accomplishments of their athlete and Little spoke to the Defender about her body of work at WUHS.
“Buddy and I are very excited that Shawnee has given Ashley this opportunity,” said Little. “Ashley is one of the hardest working athletes that I have ever coached. Throughout her career, she has set many goals for herself and for her team. She keeps each one of them in the proper perspective, focusing on what needs to be done and then having the dedication to see it through. She is very modest about her personal accomplishments and she accepts defeat with dignity and wins with class and is always willing to take the time away from her own workout to help a teammate or mentor a younger runner.”
On the cross-country course, Hackworth has been coached the past two seasons by Sean Inman.
“She’s just a great runner,” said Inman at the signing ceremony last week. “She’s a hard worker every day who pushes her teammates and it’s good to see her get the opportunity to continue her career in college and I know she will do very well.”
Shawnee State University is an NAIA school, competing in the Mid-South Conference, and their boys and girls cross-country and track teams are coached by Eric Putnam.
“I saw her run early in last fall’s cross-country season and we’ve been pursuing her since then,” said Coach Putnam. “She was pretty close to making the state and we approached her then. We will have her running both cross-country and track, probably most of the same events she runs in high school competition.”
While at Shawnee, Hackworth plans to study Early Childhood Education with hopes of becoming a teacher.