Photo courtesy of Julie Shelby
Continuing a family legacy, Bryant senior Talyn Billins will be attending Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia next fall. And, thanks to her stellar work academically and athletically, she’ll be on scholarship. The 4.0 student, daughter of Kerri and Don Billins, made that official on Tuesday as she signed an NCAA Divison II letter of intent to run cross country and track at SAU.
“My parents went to SAU so I know (the school) from that,” she noted. “My Grandpa actually works there. And I had a teammate (Hannah Raney) that ended up getting a scholarship there as well.”
A four-year letterman in both cross country and track, Billins contributed to the Lady Hornets’ 2011 and 2014 7A-Central Conference championship cross country teams. Last fall, she was one of three Bryant runners to finish in the top 10 in the conference meet.
In track, she was a member of the 4×800-meter relay team that competed in the Meet of Champs and the quartet that will compete in the event again in the 2015 Meet of Champs this Saturday in Russellville.
“Talyn joins a long line of outstanding distance runners that have gained college scholarships through our program,” noted Lady Hornets track and cross country coach Danny Westbrook. “Her dedication, hard work, and commitment have made her a very successful high school athlete. Those attributes also have provided her this opportunity to continue competing along with pursuing a college degree.”
As for her education, Billins said she plans to major in Biology with an eye on med school and a hope of being a Dermatologist.
“I almost ended up going to Henderson,” she said. “I went to recruitment weekend in 10th grade but they don’t have a track team and SAU does. I wanted to be on a track team and, also, the whole team at SAU team and the coach (Tim Servis) just has a better reputation. I just feel like I would get along there better.
“I stayed there one weekend and I really clicked with the team,” Billins added. “I like the coach a lot and I hear he pushes them and I want to be pushed.”
Reflecting on her career, Billins said, “My dad is a runner. He did triathlons and stuff like that. So I’d sometimes run with him. Then I started running track in eighth grade and fell in love with it. I made a lot of friends. And I stuck with it.
“Just meeting all the girls and the guys, I made a new family here and I love it,” she added when asked what she liked about track and cross country. “Meets were super fun but just practices, in general. We all suffer through the same thing. We all have our good little moments together.”
Things started clicking for her as her 10th-grade year got going.
“I got faster and I actually started liking the sport a lot more,” she related. “I got more competitive. My competitive nature grew.
“It’s all worth it in the end,” Billins reflected. “There’s always a good outcome. After you finish a race, there’s no better feeling. Whether you do bad or good, you know that you accomplished something.”