ARCANUM – Arcanum senior Austin Gibboney committed on Wednesday afternoon to join the Tiffin University men’s track and field team, which is the defending NCAA Division III indoor national champion.
Gibboney, the son of Abby and Theo Whitaker and Bill and Cathy Gibboney, said the chance to be part of a national championship contending program is what drew him to Tiffin.
“I know they’re going to compete,” he said. “They actually just won the NCAA indoor national championships so I know they’re going to be at a high level.”
While Gibboney is excited about the chance to compete collegiately, there was a time he doubted whether he could reach this level. He credits his father, Theo Whitaker, who is an assistant track and field coach at Arcanum, with helping him get to this level.
“My father, Theo Whitaker, he has … there was a point in time my junior year that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this,” Gibboney said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to run. A few injuries, a few bad mistakes I made and he never stopped believing in me. He never varied from the path that we were on. He always knew that this was going to be a possibility, so I owe all of this to him.”
Gibboney has spent a lot of hours working to improve in track and field and make himself into a college athlete.
“He’s put in a lot of time from middle school trying to battle and make sure he keeps running track and all his buddies are doing baseball and seeing that he’s going to do better in track, so I pushed him to do that,” Whitaker said. “To watch him, the love for track grow and spend all the time in the summer working on hurdles and doing the whole indoor thing and just working hard, waking up at like 5 and 6 in the morning to get work in before school. He’s come a long way. He’s worked real hard to get this.”
At Tiffin Gibboney, who will study political science and pre-law, will run in the 400 meter hurdles and the 4×400 meter relay. He also might run in a shorter hurdle event.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it,” he said.
Gibboney still has his senior season at Arcanum to finish. He wants to break the Arcanum school record in the 300 meter hurdles and qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet.
While he’s in college, Gibboney wants to win some conference championships and help the Dragons contend for national titles.
“I’d like to win a couple conference championships,” he said. “I know that Tiffin’s men’s team is really good, and I know that they’re going to have another chance to compete for a couple more titles. So I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
Seeing his son have an opportunity to compete for one of the nation’s best track and field programs is really special, Whitaker said
“The big thing that I like about it is he worked hard and didn’t know that he could run for a program like Tiffin,” Whitaker said. “They’re top five in the nation right now in track and won the indoor national championship so him to be able to go to a school like that, for him it’s just that hard work paid off. And a coach and a team of that caliber wants him, it makes me pretty proud.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.