MINFORD — One could certainly consider Minford’s Drew Skaggs to be a late bloomer.
But, better late than never — and the University of Rio Grande track and field program is getting an up-and-coming hurdler, jumper and sprinter.
That’s because the speedster and recent graduate Skaggs, on a hot and humid afternoon on Friday at Minford High School, officially announced his intentions to continue his track and field career — as he joins the RedStorm program of the NAIA and under longtime head coach Bob Willey.
Skaggs was flanked at his signing ceremony at Minford High School by his parents Todd and Michelle Skaggs; Minford High School boys track and field head coach Jesse Ruby; Minford High School Athletic Director Kristin Ruby and several family members and friends.
Skaggs won’t need a new wardrobe line with the Falcons and RedStorm both decked out in red — although he candidly admitted he almost chose workforce clothes as opposed to track and field apparel.
“I didn’t have too much interest in going to college. I really just wanted to go ahead and go out in the world and start working. But luckily Rio Grande gave me an offer to go run track there, and I love track. Probably more than I love making money,” said Skaggs. “So I said I wanted to go out and have fun and run track for the next few years. Now I’m very excited about it.”
So much so that the Southern Ohio Conference champion in three events in his senior season has aspirations of NAIA national competition in the back of his mind.
“I want to go out there, get a good feel for things, and try to do the best I can the first year and get through it. Eventually, I want to be able to get to nationals and be able to compete there,” he said.
Skaggs actually only had two seasons of track and field for the Falcons — as he was out injured as a freshman followed by his junior season getting canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
In fact, after four football seasons and four basketball seasons, he said he gave serious thought about not even competing in track and field for this past spring.
But Jesse Ruby, who doubles as Minford’s head football coach, persuaded Skaggs against skipping his senior campaign —and instead go ahead with hurdling, jumping and sprinting.
“I really ran track because Coach (Jesse) Ruby is our track coach and our head football coach. It was just natural for us to always go run track in the spring and summer to get better for football. After this basketball season, all I had was my track season left, and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to run. It just didn’t seem fun to me and I didn’t have a reason to. But Coach Ruby talked to me and said it was the last thing I was going to do as a senior here. Coach Ruby is a very good coach, coached me through it, and got me to the position I am now,” said Skaggs. “He told me to come out and do it, and I started doing it, and I had a very good year.”
Did he ever.
Individually, Skaggs was a double event champion in the SOC meet — winning the 110m high hurdles in 16.25 seconds and capturing the long jump with a leap of 20 feet and one and one-half inches.
He also ran the anchor leg for the Falcons’ 4x100m relay team, which also consisted of freshman Jeffrey Pica and juniors Colin Parker and Devin Parker — and which also claimed an SOC championship.
Skaggs also advanced to the Division II regional meet in the high hurdles, going seven one-hundredths (16.18) of a second lower from his SOC title time and placing third in the competition at Washington Court House.
As for the collegiate level, Skaggs said he will indeed continue to hurdle and long jump — and possibly run relays or even individual sprints.
While the latter is a wait-and-see situation, long jumping is definite — as Willey has even talked him into trying the triple jump at Rio Grande.
The triple jump is not offered by the Ohio High School Athletic Association at its postseason meets, but is at the NAIA and other collegiate levels.
“It’s the same as the long jump, only you have a mark and you have to get from that mark to the furthest point out and you get three steps to get to that furthest point,” said Skaggs.
And, there was once a far point from which Skaggs was going to continue in track and field.
But, akin to committing in late June, he is what one could certainly consider to be a late bloomer.
Skaggs said he plans to major in Education — with the goal of becoming a high school teacher.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved