By Dillon Tabish, 4-04-12
||Caption: Derrick Williams. - File photo Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
The Flathead Valley has been a good source of talent for the upstart track and field program at Carroll College and head coach Matt Morris recently corralled three more local runners.
Columbia Falls’ Derrick Williams and Flathead’s Michael Managhan and Bailey Hughes have all signed national letters of intent to compete at Carroll College next year in Helena, according to Morris.
Williams is one of the top high school distance runners in the state,
with three Class A championships already under his belt. He won the cross country title last fall. As a junior in track he won the 800 with the fastest time in the state and the 1,600 with the state’s third fastest time. He also finished second in the 3,200. When it comes to academics, he's just as strong, and plans on studying pre-med.
“When you’re a young program like we are, you’re really looking for strong personalities and kids who can be leaders who you can build a program around,” Morris said. “Derrick’s definitely a good signing for us.”
Williams said he narrowed his college options down to Carroll and the University of Montana. He picked Carroll because he “really meshed” with Morris and saw the stature of Carroll’s pre-med program.
“I’m a strong believer in education comes first. I really do believe that. Running can only take you so far,” Williams said.
“I’m really excited. It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders so now I can focus on my senior year of track and trying to keep up with school.”
Managhan is a sprinter at Flathead and also played football. Carroll coaches saw him as a “diamond in the rough.”
“We’re excited to see what he can do,” Morris said. “I think that he’s really under the radar. We feel he can come in and make an impact right away.”
Hughes has competed in cross country and track for Flathead.
“She’s a really hard worker and I feel like she’s got the tools to be successful at the college level,” Morris said. “I think she will really be able to manufacture herself into a really competitive runner.”
The Carroll track program is already off to a strong start for only being in its second year. The program had three athletes compete at the NAIA nationals last year, including Glacier grad Ben Cutler,
and had 11 athletes earn NAIA All-American honors during the indoor season.
The latest local recruits join a few former Flathead Valley standouts on the track program: Cutler; Whitefish's Willie Roche and Carly Schwickert; and Bigfork's Mallery Knoll.
Morris credits the early success with a roster filled with that kind of homegrown talent.
"We definitely want to win the recruiting battle in Montana to the best of our ability," he said. "There's a lot of talent in this state."
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