EU’s Hig­gin­son signs with Ot­tawa Univer­sity

Ripon Bulletin - - Sports - By VINCE REMBULAT

Kelley Hig­gin­son was a lit­tle ner­vous about her big day on Tues­day.

The East Union High track and field stand­out wasn’t look­ing for­ward to giv­ing a speech upon signing her letter of in­tent to run next year for Ot­tawa Univer­sity, where she plans to ma­jor in Nu­tri­tion.

“It was nice hav­ing ev­ery­one here to­day,” she said, point­ing out at friends, fam­ily, coaches and school of­fi­cials.

The EU li­brary was filled with those sup­port­ing Hig­gin­son, who also ran cross coun­try for Lancers coach Rick Cuevas.

It also im­pressed her new coach at Ot­tawa, Bre­anna Les­lie, who is a first-year as­sis­tant coach for the Spir­its un­der Wade Watkins.

“We’re get­ting more than a great ad­di­tion to our team — we’re get­ting great per­son and stu­dent,” said Les­lie, who came all the way from the cam­pus at Sur­prise, Ariz. for the signing event.

She’s pen­cil­ing Hig­gin­son to do 400, 800, and the dis­tance med­ley re­lay for the Ot­tawa track team. Les­lie, who com­peted at the pro­fes­sional level — she did the pen­tath­lete, hep­tath­lete and 100-meter hur­dles, from 2013 to 2016 — was im­pressed by Hig­gin­son’s pro­fi­ciency and flu­id­ity while view videos of her run­ning.

“What es­pe­cially struck me most was her po­lite­ness,” she said.

No sur­prise that Hig­gin­son also had her par­ents, Diana and Rus­sell, along with her brother Matt in at­ten­dance.

Prin­ci­pal Raul Mora noted that Hig­gin­son “al­ways has a home at East Union,” he said.

Cuevas called her his “hard­est work­ing dis­tance run­ner – we’re go­ing to miss you, Kelley,” he added.

Hig­gin­son looked a few schools prior to signing on for the Spirit. But none im­pressed her as much as Ot­tawa.

“I liked ev­ery­thing about the school,” she said.

The Ot­tawa Univer­sity Ari­zona Spirit are part of the Na­tional Chris­tian Col­lege Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion. “We do com­pete a lot in Cal­i­for­nia — South­ern Cal­i­for­nia,” said Les­lie.

This year, for in­stance, they’ll com­pete in track meets held at Irvine, Clare­mont, Azusa, and Hunt­ing­ton Beach.

VINCE REMBULAT / The Bul­letin

East Union High track and field stand­out Kelley Hig­gin­son signed a letter of in­tent Tues­day to run track for Ot­tawa Univer­sity in Ari­zona. She’s joined, from left, by her brother Matt, par­ents Rus­sell and Diana, Ot­tawa as­sis­tant coach Bre­anna Les­lie and Lancers track / cross coun­try coach Rick Cuevas.

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