HANNIBAL | Hannibal senior cross country and track and field athlete Claudia Nichols is moving forward with the next chapter of her life, as she signed a letter of intent with Southwest Baptist University on Monday.
Nichols will study political science at Southwest Baptist University, while also being part of the Bearcats' cross country and track and field teams.
“Southwest Baptist University had three main aspects that I was looking for,” Nichols said. “That was just a good political science program, a successful track team and also a lot of spiritual values that are important in my life.”
During her time at Hannibal High School, Nichols was a conference champion, a four-time All-Conference and four-time All-District cross country selection. Nichols was also unanimously voted as the cross country team's captain by her teammates.
Hannibal cross country coach Charlie Newland said Nichols should do well both academically and athletically at Southwest Baptist University.
“She's a good person and a good athlete,” Newland said. “It's a shame that her senior (track) season got washed away. One thing about her is that she always got excited when her team did well.”
One of Nichols' favorite memories of her high school career was when her track and field 4X800-meter team qualified for the state meet.
Several of Nichols' cross country and track and field teammates showed up to her Monday signing at Porter Stadium.
“I would say (my favorite memories) was practicing and running in the different meets with all of my friends,” Nichols said. “Just competing and having that opportunity to run, which is something that I enjoy doing.”
Nichols said her favorite sport is cross country, but added she learned a lot from both her cross country and track and field coaches.
“My coaches taught me so much about what competing looks like and what being part of a team looks like,” Nichols said. “They definitely encouraged me to continue to run, and that's why I'm going to be running in college. They definitely made a big impact on my life here at Hannibal High School.”
Unfortunately, Nichols' senior track and field season was cut short when the Missouri State High School Athletic Association canceled the spring season in early April.
Nichols said it was sad news when she found out her senior track and field season was canceled.
“I put in a lot of work up until that point, so that was hard news to hear,” Nichols said. “I feel like it was definitely a driving factor behind my success and it's just motivation to continue to run in college, since I didn't get this season in.”