BULLARD — The cheers inside the Bullard High School auditorium were different Tuesday morning.
This day was all about Woo Pig Sooie.
With the Razorbacks’ fight song providing the background music, Bullard’s Bailee Callens signed a national letter of intent with the University of Arkansas. The senior plans to run track and cross country for the Hogs.
“I just fell in love with it,” said Callens, who’d been looking forward to this day ever since making her first trip to Fayetteville, Ark., as a sophomore.
With many members of the BHS student body and faculty joining Callens’ family at the ceremony, Callens posed for photographs and thanked everyone for their support over the years. The support was evidenced by the number of Arkansas t-shirts in the crowd, representing both Arkansas track and field and Arkansas cross country.
Regardless of the sport, the Razorbacks’ cardinal and white replaced the Panthers’ red, blue and white for one day.
“It’s impressive,” BISD athletic director Shannon Wilson said. “She’s a great kid. She works hard and we are extremely proud of her. It’s a big deal to go to the University of Arkansas track program and compete.”
Addressing the crowd and comparing Arkansas track to Alabama football, Wilson’s program will be sending two female athletes to the NCAA Division I ranks next fall. The other is star basketball player Minta Spears, who signed a scholarship with Texas Tech.
Callens and Spears have been coached by Greg Gay since their freshmen years, Callens in cross country (for three seasons) and Spears in basketball. Gay wore an Arkansas shirt at Callens’ ceremony and a Texas Tech one at Spears’.
“I’m extremely proud of both of them,” Gay said. “Here we are at Bullard; we are a 3A school and have two Division I signees. It’s every coach’s dream to coach kids like that.”
Callens, a state qualifier in cross country, returned to visit the Arkansas campus last summer and met with Razorbacks coach Lance Harter during the Christmas break.
“He was really nice and said I would fit in really nice there,” said Callens, who plans to study nursing. “He told me what to expect. ...I was going to go there no matter what, before I decided I was going to run.”
Callens started competing in long-distance runs as a sixth grader, and has continued to pursue them ever since.
“This young lady came to work every day,” Gay said. “She was going to make those around her better, not only by the example she set, but she is also an encourager. She’s one of those on the team you like to coach.”