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FARMINGTON — Clayton Corley wasn't a track athlete for the bulk of his high school athletic career. But after deciding to join the Farmington High track team this spring, the recent FHS graduate found a new skill set, which garnered the attention of college programs.

Corley will now take his skills to the University of the Southwest after he signed a letter of intent to compete for the Mustangs today.

“To get this offer is a blessing. It was kind of a surprise,” Corley said. “I didn’t think I was going to get an offer, especially not one this big. It was definitely a surprise.”

Corley’s focus for the Mustangs will be in the jumping events. He said his main discipline will be the high jump, but is also going to test his skills in the long and triple jumps.

At this year’s state track meet in Albuquerque, Corley placed second in the high jump, clearing the 6-foot mark, and fourth in the triple jump with a length of 41-6 3/4.

Corley competed for the Scorps track and field team as a freshman before turning his focus to basketball for his sophomore and junior years. He rejoined the track squad for his senior year.

After spending two years away from the sport, Corley was a raw jumper and relied on his natural athleticism for success. But his sheer talent was enough to provide the Scorps with a boost and was a key factor in the team’s success.

“He brought a definite spark to get us a second-place finish at the state track meet. His jumps were consistent, and they played out big for us to get that state trophy,” FHS track coach Jeff Dalton said. “Basketball was kind of his top sport, but he took on track, and it really paid off for him.”

The University of the Southwest is located in Hobbs. The Mustangs compete in the Red River Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Corley listed business management as his intended major, but said he plans to explore other majors during his first year in Hobbs.

On the field of competition, Dalton said he doesn’t have any doubts Corley will find success as long as he can find a balance between school and track.

“Like every teenager in high school, you like to procrastinate a little,” Dalton said, “but in college you have to learn to be a little more organized and stay ahead of the game so it doesn’t swallow you up.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

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