Texas freshmen adjust to life in new state

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Spencer Dodds is one of four freshmen from Great Oak High School in California that chose to run for Texas. Dodds will compete in the NCAA South Central Regional Championship on Nov. 11.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Freshmen Skyler Bollinger, Destiny Collins, Spencer Dodds and Taylor Walker weren’t a package deal. 

All four come from Great Oak High School in Temecula, California, a school acclaimed for racking up cross country state championships. And although the four friends ended up in Austin together, being on the same team again was never the plan. 

“Texas was actually the last school I considered,” Bollinger said. “I was looking at Purdue, Iowa State and other Midwest schools.”

Bollinger wasn’t the only one. All four considered different schools, including Utah, USC, Baylor and Syracuse. But one by one, they started committing to Texas. 

Collins was the first to commit with Bollinger, Walker and Dodds following suit several days later. The group said the Longhorns’ coaching staff and athletes made them feel like family throughout the process.

Now they are convinced they made the right decision. And while they say their friendships didn’t totally influence their individual decisions, they appreciate having each other at a University far away from home.

“It’s good to have people to relate to,” Collins said. “Sometimes the team will start talking about Texas things that I have no idea about. We can do that about California things.” 

Walker echoed Collins’ sentiment. She said the four miss the weather and beaches in California. And even though she appreciates Austin, she said having three familiar faces helps her cope with adjustment.

“I just feel more comfortable around them,” Walker said. 

Though the quartet is young, they have high aspirations for their time at Texas. Collins said she hopes to earn All-American honors. And Dodds, who shined in the Big 12 Championship on Oct. 29, said he thinks the young team is bound to accomplish big things in the future.

“I knew I wasn’t going to win [the Big 12 this year],” Dodds said. “But I think we have a good chance to win the NCAA championship my junior or senior year.” 

Walker, redshirting this year, and Bollinger haven’t competed much this season, but they are eager to gain experience and serve the team in the near future. 

For now, they cheer on Collins and Dodds as they prepare to compete in the NCAA South Central Regional Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Nov. 11. The crucial meet decides whether or not the Longhorns advance to the NCAA Championship Nov. 19.