(SUN PHOTO/William Thompson) Rattler Chris McCasland signs a national letter of intent to attend Western State College of Colorado on a track and field scholarship. From left: Gary Salazar, Wayne Ferguson, Paula McCasland, John Span and Dub Smith.
Once a Rattler, always a Rattler. But soon Tucumcari High School senior athlete Chris McCasland will start calling himself a “Mountaineer.”
McCasland signed a national letter of intent Tuesday morning in the high school lobby. He accepted a four-year track and field scholarship from Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison.
McCasland will compete in the high jump and run in the 200 meter and 400 meter runs for the Mountaineers.
Tucumcari High School athletic director and track coach
Wayne Ferguson summed up the qualities that won McCasland the scholarship to the college nestled in the Rocky Mountains..
“Five years of dedication and hard work,” Ferguson said. “That’s what it takes. I’ve been coaching him since he was in the eighth grade.”
McCasland said the football coach at Western State looks for him to join the Mountaineers’ football team in his sophomore year.
“I told the football coach I wanted to concentrate on track my first year and just spend that time getting adjusted to college life,” McCasland said. “The school is right where I want to be. It’s in the mountains. I love to run in the mountains, and I enjoy snowboarding.”
McCasland’s mother, Paula McCasland, said she was excited for her son.
“The school is awesome. It’s a small school,” she said. “He is going to get a good education. He will have small class sizes.”
Tucumcari High School Principal Gary Salazar said McCasland’s signing increases the reputation of the high school’s athletic program.
“We’re all very proud of Chris,” Salazar said. “He has accomplished a lot academically and with sports.”
The high school’s football coach, Dub Smith, and basketball coach John Span each praised McCasland’s effort.
“I think Chris will get adjusted the first year in college and he’ll do a good job for their football team,” Smith said.
“He worked hard for me, ” Span said. “I enjoyed watching him run track, too.”
McCasland’s high school athletic career isn’t over yet. He will compete in the state track and field tournament Friday and Saturday in Albuquerque. McCasland has already cleared the bar in the high jump just two inches shy of the state record.