Cole Smith, Hoquiam High School’s record-setting high jumper, will continue his track career at Washington State University.
The HHS senior, a two-time state 1A boys high jump champion, recently signed a letter of intent with the Cougars. While the WSU track program has only a limited supply of full-ride scholarships, Smith will receive full tuition and books as a freshman.
The 17-year-old Smith said that Washington State and Iowa State — the latter renowned as a school that produces outstanding high jumpers — were the two finalists. His only campus visits were to those schools.
“They showed the most interest,” he noted Thursday. “Between the two, it came down to distance (away from home) and (WSU) being part of the Pac-12, which I grew up watching.”
Three of Washington State’s top high jumpers this season are seniors, which could allow Smith to gain more immediate access to big college meets.
While he is undecided on a college major, Smith said business and athletic administration are two areas of interest.
Also a standout in basketball at Hoquiam, the 6-foot-6 Smith said he considered competing in both that sport and track at Redlands University in California. His sister Mackenzie pulled off a similar double and was a four-time All-American in the women’s javelin at Redlands.
“It really came down to the opportunity I was given,” Cole said, “and if it doesn’t work out, I can always transfer to a smaller school.”
Smith jumped a school record 6-foot-10 in winning his second straight state 1A championship and helping the Grizzlies capture the state boys team title last May.
His goals for this season include clearing 7 feet and improving his marks in the javelin and discus.
Smith’s college choice created something of a humorous conflict for his father, Dave Smith. A former pitcher for Gonzaga University (he later advanced as far as the Class AAA level in professional baseball), the elder Smith is also an avid University of Washington fan.
“I think — and Marcia (his wife) agrees — that WSU is a great fit for Cole,” Dave Smith related Thursday. “But you won’t see me in an airport yelling ‘Go, Cougs’ to a guy in a WSU T-shirt, at least not yet.”