Creston senior Brianna Maitlen made her college decision official on Thursday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her track and field career at Northwest Missouri State next year.
Maitlen joins former Panther state champion Audrey Bolinger, who is a freshman on the Bearcat track and field team this year. Another Creston senior, Emily Wignall, is expected to sign with the Bearcats as well.
It was a big decision for Maitlen.
“I was nervous at first, because it’s like I’m signing my life away,” Maitlen said. “But, I’m really excited. I’m excited to be a Bearcat.”
Likewise, Creston head girls track coach Clay Arnold said he is excited for Maitlen.
“It’s great to know the girls are going to be running at the next level, but even more awesome that they’re going to be running for Northwest,” Arnold said. “That’s where I went to college. I’m extremely excited.”
And with Taylor Hudson signing with Morningside College today, that marks four Panther girls in Arnold’s two years as track coach who have decided to continue the sport at the next level.
“It’s a huge deal,” Arnold said. “We’ve tried to make it so track is an up-and-coming thing here at Creston. The girls have really bought in. The younger girls have seen this. Those girls see that and they’re kind of falling in love with the sport too, and have some big aspirations.”
Arnold said he believes Maitlen will fit in well with the Bearcat program, and that he doesn’t think she has peaked as an athlete yet.
“I think Bri can definitely have a big career down there and be a versatile athlete, just like she is for us,” Arnold said. “She doesn’t have any experience, but triple jump — something like that. I think college is geared around someone like that, with the talent she has, to be in events like that.”
Maitlen said the Northwest Missouri coaching staff wants her to continue long jumping, and that they also want to try her in the triple jump, hurdles and sprints.
Maitlen has qualified for the state meet in the long jump in her first three years of high school track, placing sixth, seventh and sixth. She has also qualified for the Drake Relays each of the past two years, finishing 18th and eighth.
She holds the school record in the long jump with a mark of 17 feet, 8.75 inches.
Maitlen plans to major in radiology.
She said she wouldn’t be where she is now without her family and coaches.
“I want to thank my coaches and parents for pushing me and making me who I am,” Maitlen said.