ANNA – Surrounded by family, friends and coaches at Anna High School on April 21 record-setting Lady Coyote runner Raye Moran officially realized some fruits of her labor. Moran, who has also been a cross county state-qualifier for the Lady Coyotes, signed a letter of intent this day to attend Cowley College of Arkansas City, Kansas, in the fall. The school, located about an hour south of Wichita, competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association.


“She has set the stage with her work ethic,” Anna girls track coach Hoot Jones said of his middle-distance star. “She’s obviously very talented, but talent alone won’t get you there. Her work ethic enhances. Without those two ingredients, she wouldn’t be having this signing today. … She came in a freshman relatively unknown, and just kind of worked her way up. She could run anything from a 200(-meters) up through a 2-mile and be effective. UIL rules say you can only be in three running events, but she could be effective in any of those distances.”


Moran first held Anna’s 800-meter school record last year and she’s broken it in each of her last two meets — the district meet on April 12 and the just-completed area meet. She claimed the gold medal in both of those races and will represent Anna at the regional meet in Commerce, April 28-29.


Anna Athletic Director Jason Heath called Moran “a great student and athlete, and an even better person. She’s a quiet leader who’s an extremely hard worker and loves to compete.”


Sophomore teammate Madison Hemenway said she’ll remember Moran as a tough competitor, adding “I really look up to her because — she runs fast. And she’s my buddy. She’s been really encouraging.”


Said Anna assistant track coach Tomika Crosby, “I’ve had the pleasure of being around Raye for these last four years, watching her run, watching her grow. She’s been a great teammate. The girls love her and respect her because at practices she’s always working hard. She’s soft-spoken but when she gets on that track you just see a totally different person. She’s fierce on that track. … I just wish her all the best. It’s going to be exciting to see what she does in college.”


Moran said Cowley College has a “really homey” feel.


“It’s more like a small college and I feel like I’ll be able to make friends there,” she said. “It seems like the right step for me. Their coach is very passionate about running.”


Moran said her academic interests will involve science and perhaps medicine.


“My favorite memory (from Anna) is going to be the team in general, being so supportive of each other,” she said.


“It’s been pretty amazing,” Moran’s mother Jennifer DeGroot said. “It’s fun to watch her run. We go to every meet.”


Heath DeGroot, Moran’s stepfather added, “She’s worked really hard. She deserves it. She set a goal when she was a freshman. When she first got into running she saw another girl in the Anna-Melissa Tribune who had sat down and had a similar day — had a full-ride scholarship to college. I said, ‘That could be you if you work hard over the next four years.’ She really put her mind to it … and she’s reaping the benefits now as a senior.”


Moran’s father Shannon Moran said, “I think she’s going where she wants to go and we’re really proud of her. I’m glad she’s starting off in a small college and hopefully … she’ll get to go to a bigger school later. ”


Shannon said he began to really notice his daughter’s talent last year, while living in Lubbock and receiving lost-distance updates on her times.


“Her mother would always send them to me,” he said.


Now living back in this area, Shannon said watching Moran in action has been exciting.


“When I first came over and started seeing her run, I could see it with my own eyes,” he said. “It was like, wow.”


Just this week, three Cowley College track and field athletes signed with NCAA Division I schools and the Tigers’ program appears to be on the upswing. Four school records have been broken in recent days.