Five Jackets leave the nest

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

Staff Photo by Scott Rodgers The North Augusta High School signers included, from left, Nik O達rien to Fordham University; Kaleigh Busbee to Spartanburg Methodist College; Taylor Hurst to Lander University; Ronald Williams to Livingstone College; and Willie McCloud to the University of Pikeville.


In training for his state championship in the 2-mile, Nik O達rien probably covered the 782 miles from North Augusta to Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., where he signed to continue his career yesterday.

O達rien considered the Universities of Texas, Florida and Iowa State before deciding to become a Ram.

的t痴 a great feeling, he said. 的致e worked a long time at this, and I don稚 see my career ending anytime soon. It痴 a great continuation of that. I知 really blessed to have this opportunity.

The cross country and track star still has a few events that he aims to conquer in his final season as a Jacket.

的 would say being a state champion in the 2-mile for 2013 is definitely an achievement that I知 proud of, he said. 的 would like to be track and field champion in the 3,200 (meters) this year and maybe even the 1-mile.

Along with O達rien, North Augusta had athletes sign from the football program, girls soccer and softball team.

Kaleigh Busbee, the third baseman for the Jackets softball team, signed to play at Spartanburg Methodist College.

的t means a lot, because I致e worked hard throughout the years, she said 的 don稚 have a lot of time off because I知 always playing softball.

Busbee chose to become a Pioneer because of the coaching staff.

典he team is great, the coach is amazing, she said. 滴e痴 really familylike.

As a freshman, Busbee is hoping to move into the starting lineup immediately, something her coach, Derrick Quinn, thinks she is capable of.

鉄he has all of the tools, he said. 摘xcellent ballplayer and a really nice glove. Very strong arm. Swings a very strong bat. Solid all-around player.

Joining O達rien and Busbee in signing was Taylor Hurst of the girls soccer team. The midfielder is headed to Lander next year to continue her athletic career.

的t痴 paying for my education and I love the sport, she said. 的 don稚 think I ever want to stop playing.

Hurst, whose final soccer season is underway, hopes to start immediately at Lander.

的 know I値l be playing (at Lander) the first couple of games, hopefully I値l start toward the end of the year, she said.

Matt Sawicz, North Augusta痴 head coach, called Hurst a 菟henomenal athlete.

典aylor has been on varsity all four years, he said. 鉄he is already a three-time all-region player. Two years ago she was our most outstanding player. She has been placed on several tournament teams with us. She is one of those girls who has played soccer since she could walk. The efforts of that are here today with all of that hard work. She痴 a phenomenal athlete. You can稚 teach speed and she痴 got plenty of speed. She痴 worked really hard to be a good soccer player on top of that. You see so many young girls who get used to only playing with their speed that they never develop into soccer players. That痴 not Taylor. If Taylor didn稚 have her speed she would still be an excellent soccer player. Really good kid. I have enjoyed working with her and we値l be really sad to see her go. She痴 going to have a career at Lander, too, I think.

From the gridiron, Ronald Williams and Willie McCloud each took the next step in their athletic pursuits.

McCloud, who rushed for more than 1,400 yards in his senior season, is headed to the University of Pikeville in Kentucky next year.

的t痴 a big deal, I知 the first male in my family to go on to play football, McCloud said. 的t痴 a chance to get a free education, so that痴 really humbling. Pikeville runs the same offense that we ran and they have a pretty good program. They have a really good media program, which lead me to Pikeville. I知 going to major in communications or teaching.

McCloud, who shared the running back position with Williams, called his teammate a great player and person.

迭onald and I have been friends since fifth grade when I came back from Florida, McCloud said. 迭onald is a heck of a player, and one of the best people I致e ever been around. He痴 gonna go far in life.

Williams, who will be a Livingstone College Blue Bear next season, is excited to showcase his talents in Salisbury, N.C.

的t means a lot, because I really want to show my talent to everybody that痴 outside the state, he said. 的致e loved football ever since I was little, since rec league. I really was a baseball fan, but when I started playing football I started loving it more and kept working at it and became better at that.

In his final season at North Augusta, Williams played both linebacker and running back and looks to do the same thing in college.

典hey came to me, they saw my highlight tape and said 閃an, we gotta get you here quick,樗 Williams said. 典hey asked if any other college was looking at me, and when I said no, they asked me to hurry up and get there. So, I chose there, they池e going to work me at running back and linebacker, which are the two positions I love to play.

With the two signings yesterday, the Jackets football team now has eight players headed to the college ranks.

的t痴 big (for the program), Dan Pippin, North Augusta痴 head coach, said. 的t says a lot about the kids, the assistant coaches and the program. It痴 neat that we池e to that point, where we can sign eight kids. Ronald was a three-year starter for us, was All-Region for a couple of years. Willie started this year, had over 1,000 yards and was a part-time starter last year. They池e great kids, great team guys. They helped us win a whole bunch of football games. They池e good kids going to good schools. I couldn稚 be prouder.

T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.

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