One of the top runners in the history of the Robinson High School cross country program will get the opportunity to compete for one of the top junior college cross country programs in the country next season.
RHS senior Mickey Shook fulfilled a career goal Monday when she signed her letter-of-intent to continue her cross country career at Danville Area Community College.
"I'm pretty excited," Shook said. "I have wanted to go to college for running and now I get to. It's pretty exciting."
Her new coach is also excited to add a runner of Shook's caliber to his already-talented squad.
"We always look for the most talented kids we can find," DACC head coach Kyle O'Brien said. "She is the perfect athlete in that she is a good athlete and a good person. She is an ideal candidate for our program."
Shook's strong senior season put a cap on a stellar cross-country career for Shook, who has been a multi-sport athlete at RHS. She has also competed in track, wrestling and basketball during her four years of high school.
"Mickey has been a tremendous person to have in our program," RHS cross country and track coach Tony Cork said. "She is a dependable, consistent runner that put in her time in the summer and is a very good competitor."
Among her accolades during her cross-country career was a state finals appearance this past fall, along with three all-conference awards (2 All-Apollo, 1 All-Little Illini). She qualified for the sectional all four years and holds the fifth-best ever time on a three-mile course in program history with a time of 19:03.
Cork and O'Brien expect more of the same success for Shook at the next level.
"I think she should fit in very well," Cork said. "Their top girls run in the ball park of where Mickey is competition-wise. They (DACC) have done a nice job getting significant improvement out of their kids. Mickey has worked hard to get here, I am excited for her and this is a great opportunity for her."
"I think she will fit in with the top girls and should be in the top two or three right away," O'Brien said. "I think the sky is the limit for her. It is fun for us to get small-school athletes because by the time they are done with high school, they have just scratched the surface of their ability. I could see her reaching All-American status, turning that into another scholarship at a four-year school and who knows from there."
Shook is going into a strong program that has won the Region 24 championship the past two seasons. Another selling point was the past history between RHS and DACC, as at least a handful of athletes from RHS have competed at DACC, including Dick Andrus, Jeff Montgomery, Keith Jared, Chad Veenstra and Austin Dart.
"I heard a lot of good things from our coaches, then I met some of the girls on the team and they were really nice," Shook said. "I also considered Elmhurst, but I decided Danville was the better fit and I think I will fit in well."
"We have had strong ties with Robinson and they have a great program," O'Brien said. "Anytime we can get an athlete from here, it is a feather in our cap."
Initially, Shook thought she would be competing in track as well at DACC, but later found out DACC currently does not have a track program. However, the program may be reinstated in the near future.
"I would be excited if they got their track program back," Shook said. "I would be interested in doing that, too."
The ultimate goal for Shook is to continue running after she is done at DACC, which she believes she can do.
"I would like to keep running at a four-year college," Shook said. "I just have to keep working until I get there."
Cork added he is proud not only of just Shook, but all the athletes he's had that have moved on to compete at the collegiate level.
"It feels good to see those kids move on," Cork said. "Having runners with the talent and desire to go on after high school is really neat."