Heber Springs senior Parker Ables made it official this past Thursday afternoon, as the highly decorated athlete signed his national letter of intent to run for the Oklahoma Baptist University track and field program in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
"It feels great and rather natural," exclaimed Ables. "I couldn't think of not continuing to run after high school, and the fact that I get to do just that in college on a team is exciting."
The speedy class of 2019 runner has accumulated numerous honors across his career, including state championship rings in outdoor track and field (2016, 2017) as well as indoor track and field (2017, 2018) and cross country (2015, 2016). Along with those rings came numerous victories across events in each sport, as Ables finished his high school cross country career as a three-time champion of the Class 4A boys event (2016, 2017, 2018).
"I selected OBU because God revealed to me through a series of events that OBU is where I am supposed to seek the next stages of my life. A friend of mine joined the OBU track program in 2018, leading me to contact OBU. Upon my first visit, I was far from sold and told my mom that I didn't want to go there. I was determined to go to a large Division 1 school to get lost in the crowd, but God had other plans. Two weeks later, while on a college search trip, I received a call from Coach Kennedy wanting to talk more about my interest in OBU. We canceled all other college visits and drove straight from Dallas to Shawnee. I fell in love upon my second visit and knew that OBU is where God wanted me. It's one of the few schools I visited that offered both a quality track program and also the degree I wanted."
Ables enjoyed contributing to a Heber Springs program that has seen much success over the course of the last 20 years or so.
"It means a lot to have been a part of the Heber Springs track program. To get to participate in a program with so many state titles and help acquire many of those titles has been an honor."
Getting the opportunity to join a traditionally strong OBU program brings much motivation to Ables, who feels as if he will be ready to make an impact from the first meet.
"I honestly think that they already have everything I have to bring. I have high expectations for myself and my team, but part of the reason I'm excited to run there is because the coaches and teammates will have high expectations for me."
"I would like to thank both Coach [Dale] Cresswell and Coach [Johnette] Goldman as well as my parents for supporting me to further my athletic career for the past six years. I would also like to thank the OBU administration and track and cross country program for giving me such an amazing opportunity."
Oklahoma Baptist University is an NCAA Division II that is home to the Bison as well as seven national championships in track and field, as well as 33 titles across all sports.