Basalt’s Sierra Bower commits to Furman, looks to defend state championship
There’s no pressure on Sierra Bower these days. A state championship? Yeah, that’s taken care of. Her college decision? Yep, go ahead and check that off the list as well.
“I don’t have to worry about taking the SAT again or anything like that,” Bower said Wednesday. “It definitely feels really nice. I wasn’t ever too stressed out about the recruiting process, but at the same time, it’s definitely really nice to have that decision out of the way. Not only just athletically, but also academically.”
Bower, a senior at Basalt High School, went public with her post-Longhorn plans via social media on Tuesday night, announcing she has committed to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, where she will compete for the Paladins’ NCAA Division I cross country and track teams.
She is the reigning Class 3A state champion in cross country and a trendy choice to repeat this fall. The BHS girls should also contend for another high finish as a team.
“I’m still feeling good. I feel like this year I’m even more motivated, just knowing that the team has an even better chance at doing really well,” Bower said. “A lot of the girls on the team came in super fit and worked really hard over the summer. So yeah, I definitely think we have a good chance. We just kind of have to stay focused and keep our goals in mind throughout the season.”
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The Basalt girls finished third as a team in 2019, behind champion The Classical Academy and runner-up Faith Christian. Bower won the race in roughly 18 minutes flat (18:00.1), beating TCA freshman Sawyer Wilson by 44 seconds. In fact, Bower’s time was the fastest among any female runner, regardless of classification, at last year’s state meet. The 5A girls champ finished in 18:12.3, and the 4A girls champ in 18:11.9.
Bower also finished second in the girls 3,200-meter run at the 2019 track and field state championships during the spring of her sophomore season, losing in a sprint finish to TCA’s Kaylee Thompson.
She wasn’t able to compete in track as a junior after the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, with the results she’s already put on her resume, Bower wasn’t short on good college offers and it was Furman that stood out the most.
“The reason why I chose it is because I really felt the most confident with the coaching staff there from all the different schools I talked to,” Bower said. “I noticed all the girls were super proud to represent Furman in every type of way, athletically and academically, and I really admire that. I think that’s kind of the reason why I chose it, because everyone is so excited and motivated to do good things for Furman, and I definitely want to be a part of that.”
Bower is set to take her first unofficial visit to the Furman campus — consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful in the country — over Labor Day weekend. She never took an official visit because of the pandemic and mostly toured her top college choices virtually. Still, she was comfortable enough to make her decision, picking Furman over Colorado, Oregon, Northern Arizona and Arkansas.
“I feel super confident with my decision. I definitely have no second guesses or anything. I just feel really confident with it, even without seeing it,” Bower said. “I’m super excited. I know that the coaches at Furman are really going to help me be successful in college. I feel super confident in the training.”
Her decision will remain verbal-only until this year’s graduating class is allowed to officially sign, a window that is tentatively set to open Nov. 11 for sports other than football and basketball.
Until then, her focus will be on BHS cross country, which is scheduled to start its pandemic-altered season on Aug. 29, with its own Longhorn Invitational at Crown Mountain Park.
“I’ve had a pretty good build-up and I’m feeling good going into the season,” Bower said, making note of the team around her. “I want to do well for them, too, and try to bring home the title as a team as well. But I’m feeling good going into it. Not too much pressure or anything.”
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