After three National Letter of Intent signings in two weeks, Creston head girls track coach Clay Arnold said he’s started to run out of things to say.
But, that didn’t stop him from praising senior Emily Wignall, who made her decision official on Tuesday when she signed her National LOI with Northwest Missouri State, becoming the second member of the Panthers’ girls track team to sign with the Bearcats this year, and the third in the past two years.
Wignall joins fellow senior Brianna Maitlen and current Northwest Missouri State freshman Audrey Bolinger as Bearcat signees.
“It’s going to be real interesting. Those other couple of girls will just be running track, but Emily will be running all three seasons down there,” Arnold said, referring to cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. “I really think that year-round training is going to help her out. We’re excited to see what she can do with some times this spring, and I think that continuous training year-round will help her for next year’s cross country and indoor and outdoor track as well.”
Wignall said she is relieved to have her decision made, noting that now she can concentrate on the upcoming track season.
“It’s exciting and it’s nice not to have to worry about stressing about it anymore,” Wignall said. “It’s nice to be able to look ahead and focus on what I’m going to do next year, and focus on that more clearly.”
Her decision came down to Central College in Pella and Northwest Missouri State, but she said after visiting the campus in Maryville, Mo., the decision was easy for her.
“I liked the campus and the people, and the coaches,” Wignall said. “I just felt a connection while I was there to everyone, and I just knew I wanted to go there.”
Wignall, who plans to study nutrition and dietetics, looks forward to being teammates with Maitlen and Bolinger at the collegiate level, as well.
“You make that connection as a teammate, and you always have that,” Wignall said. “It’s always nice to have that familiar face around. Especially, Audrey has been there already, so she can give helpful pointers to help us out.”
The decision came as exciting news for both Arnold and Creston head cross country coach Pat Schlapia, both of whom are Northwest Missouri State alums.
“I knew it was between Central and Northwest,” Schlapia said. “Whatever she decided was going to be great, but this is even more exciting that she’s going to be going to my old cross country and track team.”
Schlapia said this shows the younger members of the Creston teams what hard work can do for an athlete.
“This is the reward of all the hard work a kid puts in,” Schlapia said. “The reward is, you get to go on to the next level, and she’s going to do something she loves. That’s just great when you see the kids being able to succeed and going on to the next level.”
Schlapia believes Wignall will adjust well to the increase in distance in cross country, as the collegiate distance jumps to 5 kilometers for some regular season meets and to 6 kilometers for championship races. The distance for high school girls in Iowa is 4 kilometers.
“She handles that overdistance just fine,” Schlapia said. “She was a good leader for us all these years. I think she’s going to have even more success down there. She’s represented Creston very well here, and I think she’ll represent Creston very well down at Northwest.”