ANNA – Anna senior Mason Massingill will be taking his versatile athletic skills to the collegiate level. On April 25 at Anna High School, the Coyotes’ current regional-qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles signed his National Letter of Intent to run track for John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

The occasion on the school cafeteria stage drew plenty of Massingill’s friends, teammates, coaches and family – as well as JBU track and field head coach Scott Schochler.

“I’m really excited to go off to college and run,” Massingill said. “I loved running in high school but college is a whole ‘nother level. Coaches are focused on your event. … I’m really looking forward to that, and trying to see how much better I can get with some focused coaching.”

Massingill plans to major in mechanical engineering and minor in renewable energy at JBU.

“It’s a beautiful campus,” he said. “They’re near the Ozarks. It’s beautiful up there in Arkansas. But really the thing that got me the most is their junior design project for engineering. It’s very real-world-based.”

Massingill will join six other Coyotes at the Class 4A Region 2 Championships April 26-27 in Commerce.

Besides the 110 hurdles, Massingill also competed this year in the 300 hurdles, the 4x400 relay, the 800 meters and pole vault. He also played tennis and ran cross country while at Anna, and was Coyotes’ top finisher at last year’s district cross country meet.

In signing with the Golden Eagles, Massingill will have the opportunity to help start a program from the ground up. JBU is reviving it men’s and women’s track and field programs this year for the first time in forty years.

“When I first got to Anna,” Massingill said, “and came into high school to run cross country, it was me and two other people on the team. So I already know what it’s like getting to leave somewhere knowing that you were a part of starting something. I can’t wait to have that feeling again at John Brown.”

Making it to regionals for the first time will definitely be a top Anna memory for Massingill.

“For four years, that has been my goal,” he said.

JBU is a private Christian university that competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as a member of the Sooner Athletic Conference. The conference includes three Texas schools: Texas Wesleyan University, Wayland Baptist and Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

Schochler has been JBU’s cross country coach for the past six years and now takes on the track-rebuild effort. “We’re basically starting from ground zero,” he said. “The great thing with Mason and some other athletes like him that will be part of our program is just the versatility of them. He’s a great athlete all the way around. We’ve got a lot of different events that I think he’s going to be able to compete in at the college level.”

“Mason is a heck of a leader,” Anna boys track coach Jeremy Patton said. “Not only does he lead through his voice … but his work ethic is one of the biggest things that shows he’s a leader. He’s truly going to be missed. Patton agreed that that Massingill could become a “3-event kid” or a decathlon-type athlete at JBU. “With some extra coaching and what John Brown can bring, I think he could do good in a multi-event situation.”

Massingill is the son of Jason and Amy Massingill.

“My dad is definitely my biggest role model,” Massingill said. “He ran hurdles in high school [Emory Rains] and at college [Howard Payne University]. And he did pole vault in high school and college too.”

Massingill cleared his first hurdle at about age 11. The family was meeting his grandparents in Lone Oak and happened upon the LOHS track. They had some time, so Jason set up a hurdle.

“He said, ‘Hey, Mason, go jump over that,’” Massingill recalled. “And I did.”

“We’re just proud of Mason,” Jason said. “We’ve enjoyed watching him improve and grow over the last three years, in his athletic ability and in becoming a man. … John Brown impressed me with their focus - their Christian background and their focus on the Lord and leading young people in their walk with the Lord.”

“I think it’s a good university with good, solid morals that they’re going to be teaching the kids. And, obviously, we’re excited about the athletic program,” Amy Massingill said.