Valdosta Daily Times

May 31, 2013

Viking runners Watts, Sims sign with colleges

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A pair of Lowndes runners signed their way onto college rosters Wednesday.

Recent graduates Devonte Watts and Reaud Sims signed national letters of intent inside the empty, student-less, hallways of Lowndes High School.

Watts signed with Division I Alabama State while Sims signed with Brewton-Parker, a small NAIA school located in the northern portion of the state.

“I am a little nervous but I am ready to move and see what it is like,” said Watts, a region champion that finished third in the state tournament last month.

Watts had a stellar senior season with the Viking track team, finishing third in Class AAAAAA in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.67, after he finished first in the event at the sectional meet at Mill Creek High School last April.

Watts won the Region 1 championship in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, an event he finished seventh in at state after slipping on the wet track at the state meet in Jefferson.

“I would’ve liked to finish higher in state, but I won region and sectionals,” Watts said. “(Running) is something I enjoy. I used to run just for fun and I just enjoy it.”

When asked about his decision to attend Alabama State, Watts said the program is “really good” and that “they focus on developing their runners.”

And after all, Watts is going to college to continue his development, eventually, hopefully, earning the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic games, representing Team USA on a global stage.

“I would like try out for the Olympics, if I could just make the USA team,” said Watts, who will major in Art in college. “I need to get better and focus on college right now, focus on improving.”

Alabama State finished sixth in the Southwestern Atlantic Conference championships in April. The school competes in both indoor and outdoor track and field events.

As for Sims, his decision to attend Brewton-Parker was both athletically driven, as well as academically.

“The track team is kind of new; it is something for me to start at, and being a relatively small school, it is a place where I can learn college, rather than just jumping into a big college,” Sims said. “Being at a small school allows me to adapt to school and learn how to be a student and an athlete.”

Sims, who finished first in the 400-meter run at the Tift County II track meet in March — finishing with a time of 52.89 — said running track and competing in field events at Lowndes was instrumental in his development and his ability to compete in the sport at the college level.

“Running track at Lowndes was a very great experience for me,” he said. “I started running track there my junior year. It was challenging in the beginning but with the great coaches we had, and the hard work they put us through, we were able to get better and show other schools that we were getting better. Lowndes was a great learning experience for me.”

Brewton-Parker is a small track and field program, but does compete in rather large venues. In April, the Baron runners competed at Florida State University. And that just one of many large venues the team has competed in.

Since last August, Brewton-Parker has competed at Clemson three times, Florida State once, Georgia Southern, Mercer, North Florida, Georgia College and Augusta State.

“That is actually a good thing about them — the school gets into big track meets where you can get a lot of exposure,” Sims said. “But when you come down to your studies, it is a small learning environment where I can focus on studies.”

And Sims isn’t joking about his studies. He is serious. The recent grad has already tabbed Agricultural Business as his major at Brewton-Parker, with the plans of moving on to a larger university and completing his degree in engineering.

He already has a jump start on his courses, too.

As a junior in high school, Sims was named the national champion at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) National Convention after he used recycled material to make fresh water from salt water.