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Cibola standout Huston headed to BYU
Monica Huston began her career with Cibola as a member of the swim team.
One day later, she decided it wasn't for her.
It turned out to be a good move to switch to cross country, because Huston signed her letter of intent to run both cross country and track at Brigham Young University in the Cibola library on Wednesday afternoon.
“I only applied to BYU. I was planning on applying to other places,” Huston said. “But I didn't want to start those until BYU was out of the question, because BYU has been my first choice.”
Huston, who is Mormon, won the Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Cross Country Runner of the Year four times in a row at Cibola. The quiet runner has accumulated several accomplishments for the Raiders – she was the runner-up at the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I Cross Country Meet her sophomore year (19:04) and also finished in second place in the 800-meter (2:13.58) and 1,600 (5:02.66) her sophomore year at the AIA Division I Track and Field State Meet.
“At this point, she could probably make a claim – and I'm probably biased because I'm her coach – but you could make the claim she's the best (female) athlete to come out of Cibola.” Raider coach Kris Norton said. “Fabulous kid. You always hope you get a great athlete, but when you get a great athlete who's a fabulous kid and the whole package, you're kind of living in a cloud and trying to make sure you're enjoying it while it's happening, because we knew she was really special.”
Huston's career at Cibola began when her mother, Patricia, told her that she should try out for the Raider swim team.
That didn't last long.
“The first time she came home from practice and said, ‘I don't like swimming,'” Patricia said. “And I said, ‘You do whatever you need to do.'”
“I was on the swim team for one day,” Monica said with a reflective laugh. “It was just a bad practice for me because I wear contacts and I didn't have goggles. I was not prepared for this.”
When Huston dedicated all her attention to running – both cross country in the fall and track in the spring – Norton said he knew he had something special on his hands.
“Her freshman track season, we knew she probably wasn't a JC type kid, but at least a Division II, Division III – maybe even a walking on at a Division I,” Norton said.
The move to BYU will definitely be a big change of scenery for Huston. She will go from running in relatively flat and hot Yuma to Provo, Utah – which is 4,560 feet above sea level at the western base of the Wasatch Mountains.
“I think it'll be a big difference because of the hills,” she said. “For here, the hill workouts, you have to go find them. There, the hills are incorporated into your workouts.”
The terrain won't be the only thing that Huston will have to adjust to. Instead of cruising to easy victories in local meets, she'll be surrounded by extraordinary runners at Division I, which leaves her nervous, scared and excited.
“I think I'm going to a mixture of all three but mostly excited, because that's where I'll get my PRs,” Huston said. “If you're not running against people who can push you, it's hard to push yourself.”
Huston said that the chance of going to BYU is a dream come true. But perhaps best of all, getting the right school figured out means she can focus on more pressing matters.
“I'm glad the recruiting process is over so I can focus on what I really love to do, and that's run.”