Owen holds signing ceremony for five student-athletes

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
From left to right: Owen High School's Trevor Nail, Sam Hey, Laila Burk, Hannah Larios and Caleb Scott at the school's signing ceremony.

Owen High School held a signing event April 28 to honor its five student-athletes moving on to collegiate programs. Each of the students was joined by family, friends and teammates in addition to faculty and coaches.

Of the five students, Laila Burk is committed to UNC-Greensboro’s track and field program, Sam Hey is committed to swim at Randolph College, Hannah Larios to Montreat College’s cross country squad, Trevor Nail to Warren Wilson College’s cross country program and Caleb Scott to Western Carolina University football.

Burk finished eighth in the 2019 NCHSAA 2A State Championship 800 meters. Hey was the only swimmer from Buncombe County Schools in the 2021 NCHSAA 1A/2A State Championship, finishing eighth in the 200-yard individual medley.

Nail, opposite Larios, finished as one of three Warhorses in the top three in a Western Highlands Conference Championship.

Scott finished with 2,592 passing yards and 30 touchdowns as Owen’s starting varsity quarterback through three seasons. Though starting in the backfield, head coach Nathan Padgett expects Scott to be utilized throughout the Catamount offense.

Scott was recruited to play tight end, Padgett added. Scott’s Twitter profile adds that he is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound tight end.

‘A dream of his’

Scott came in as a freshman with the body of a senior, Padgett said.

“As a coach, you want to build relationships with all your players, and I feel like he’s been a young man that I’ve been able to build a good relationship the last four years,” Padgett said. “He’s worked very hard to get to this point.”

Owen's Caleb Scott is expected to play as either tight end or H-back for Western Carolina University.

“To be able to watch him develop and grow and mature as a person the past four years has been very rewarding.

Scott will join newly hired head coach Kerwin Bell in Cullowhee, who Padgett says is starting with a program with a “clean slate.”

To play college football was a goal from day one, Padgett said.

“He has worked extremely hard behind the scenes to have an opportunity to go to the next level and play college football at a school that he wanted to play for,” Padgett said. “This is dream of his, and I knew it was a goal of his when he first came in. I wanted to do the best I could to help him achieve that goal, but I’m just very proud of him and what he’s accomplished the past four years.”

‘Proud’

Montreat College athletic director Jose Larios, Hannah’s father, celebrated his daughter’s success in addition to each of the students moving on to college.

“I just loved watching her grow and compete,” Jose said. “But, you know, it’s always nice for our local students, like Laila going to (Greensboro) … it’s nice to have these students for local schools just continue on, because it’s not easy. There are a lot of roster spots. It is not easy.”

Hannah finished as the Western Highlands Conference Runner of the Year while winning a cross country championship. She added nine points per game on the girls basketball team.

Jose says he thought she would be headed to run for Indiana Wesleyan in Marion, Indiana.

“We were kind of preparing our hearts for that eight-hour distance,” Larios said.

Though supportive of her decision, Jose said he thought Hannah would move away to experience college on her own. He added that a longtime relationship with Jason Lewkowicz, director of cross country and track and field, made a difference.

The Cavaliers finished with their highest ranking in program history at No. 20 in the 2021 NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 poll. 

“The girls that are here, she’s built a relationship with them, and we have a phenomenal women’s cross country team,” Jose said. “They’re just great leaders on campus, just solid students, a lot of honors students.”

Larios is proud of his daughter.

“She’s going to fit really, really well into that group,” he said.