Toby Bothwell spent his high school running career posting one terrific time after another. But it was a case of bad timing that could have derailed his college athletic aspirations.
Alas, the former Westmoore cross country and track standout overcame a major obstacle in both sports in his senior season and is headed to compete for a national power.
Bothwell will run for Arkansas next year after being invited to walk-on with the Razorbacks in cross country and track.
He could have taken an athletic scholarship to another school, but he didn't need one. Bothwell, who scored a perfect score (36) on the ACT, has a full academic scholarship to Arkansas.
"I guess basically I was looking at Arkansas and OU," Bothwell said. "I was injured last track season, but Arkansas offered the opportunity to walk on. I liked the staff, the campus, the people there. It was a quick decision to go to Arkansas."
The bad breaks that beset Bothwell as a senior were a serious case of the flu shortly before the cross country state meet (he still finished second) and then a hamstring injury during track season.
"Really bad timing," the 18-year old said.
Nevertheless, his past performances were enough to get the interest of Division I track programs. And because he had already secured an academic scholarship to almost anywhere he wanted to go, it made him a perfect walk-on candidate.
Bothwell will leave for Fayetteville, Ark., on Aug. 16. But before that he will complete his summer internship with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
As for college, running isn't the only thing he's focusing on.
"I'm thinking I definitely want to look at a degree in mathematics and then pursue something in the science field," Bothwell said. "I don't know what area of science yet, but I definitely want to do research."
The hamstring injury healed, he's been working out with the Arkansas training schedule sent to him by the team. Given his summer activities, he's obviously well prepared both academically and athletically for the big changes coming his way.
"I'm sure I'll be a little nervous," Bothwell said. "But mainly I'm excited. I'm ready for this."