Eldon senior Macie Halderman always dreamed of being a collegiate basketball player.

After a high school career where she scored over 1,500 points and became the second-leading scorer in school history, that dream was certainly a possibility. But there was something about the sport of track and field that compelled her to choose a different path and the senior took her first step down that road on Friday as she signed with Southwest Baptist University with family, friends, coaches and teammates in attendance.

Being pretty competitive in whatever she chooses to do, Halderman is equally self-reliant in taking on any challenges that come her way and is not one to shy away from any pressure that may fall on her shoulders if she can help her team be more successful.

“I wanted to play basketball up until probably this past summer,” Halderman explained. “I just started liking track more. I like how you are part of a team, but you are doing things individually so it is all on you whereas in basketball you have to work hard, but there are five people you are relying on as well. I kind of like where it is just you, but then again, the bigger picture is your team.”

And it is not exactly like the sport of track and field was an alternative. At Eldon, the teams Halderman has been a part of have seen plenty of success as the program has won three straight district titles and is currently in pursuit of a fourth with multiple athletes having gone on to have success at state. As for Halderman, the senior has made All-Conference and All-District each year and recently made All-State as a triple jumper a season ago. She credits those who have gone before her for showing her the way.

“I think a lot of it was coming in as a freshman and the impact the girls made on me, they kind of paved the way for what we have already done,” Halderman noted of the team that won the first district title in program history back in 2015. “Just the hard work I saw the upperclassmen doing when I was a freshman and seeing how much they cared, it kind of translated down to me. We just picked up where they left off and continued the hard work we saw them do.”

Eldon coach Tobby Eldridge is certainly appreciative of that tradition Halderman and her teammates carried on and noted that the senior’s passion for the sport is something the Bearcats will appreciate about one of their newest additions.

“It is exciting for her because she came in as a junior high athlete and she was setting high standards so we knew she was going to be a good athlete,” the coach recalled. “But for a kid to be able to stay with something six years and still have the love and passion she has for the sport, those are the things that are fun to see. S.B.U., is going to be lucky to have her and she’ll do great for them.”

Of course, that competitive edge can make a big difference for the Bearcats too, as well as her versatility. Halderman was recruited as a triple and long jumper, but may also end up doing some running events as well.

“I think she’ll get up there and they’ll realize what type of athlete she is so you never know what she’ll be doing two or three years from now. The thing I like about her the most is actually what you see when she is on the basketball court,” Eldridge remarked. “She has no fear in terms of competition and it does not matter to her if somebody is a foot taller, or faster or whatever. She is going to compete as hard as she can and thinks she can win in everything she does.”

Now, the senior will have the opportunity to continue that same method of success over the next four years. Halderman said she visited five different schools for track and field, but the campus in Bolivar felt like the right place to be as she studies exercise science and pursues a career in physical therapy.

“It is really an exciting experience for me, especially having all of my friends and family here to support me,” Halderman said on Friday. “I feel like it is just going to be a good step in the right direction and S.B.U., feels like a second home to me so I am just really excited to continue all that there.

“They just drew me in. I was most attracted to the coaching staff and it felt like family to me. When I visited they were ranked sixth in the nation going in and I knew I was going to have to work for my spot because they have good jumpers there. I also got to meet some of the girls and they made it feel like home so I am looking forward to being a part of that.”

Of course, Halderman won’t forget her time at Eldon and what it means to be a Mustang. Just like the upperclassmen that went before her, she intends to help younger athletes achieve success including her own sister Sydney who is a sixth grader.

“I am going to miss everything here. I am excited to graduate, but I am going to miss playing basketball, running track and all my friends here,” the senior stated. “It will always have a place in my heart and I’ll always call this home. I’ll come back and support future basketball and track athletes and I hope to come back and coach my sister and help her with future sporting events.”

Halderman implores her fellow teammates to do the same and noted that there is always work to be done.

“Just keep working because they’ve been working really hard and have been earning everything they’ve gotten,” she said of her teammates. “Just keep doing that and keep encouraging the ones coming up.”

Eldridge certainly welcomes that notion and in the meantime, there is still one final track and field season left for the senior to complete. The coach is looking forward to seeing what she can do one more time in the maroon and gold.

“She is a good one. Se is fun to watch and I am glad we still get at least another month with her before she moves on,” he said.