Scholarship signings usually draw a crowd, and that was the case last week when 2002 Evans High School graduate Roy Cheney signed his letter of intent to attend Clemson University on a track and field scholarship next season.
Just as he'd been during his career with the Knights, the Class AAAAA state hurdling champion was the center of attention, surrounded by coaches, friends, teammates and family members.
After sealing his deal Friday at Evans, the new Tiger took time to acknowledge the Cheney Gang.
"I'd like to say thanks to all of my coaches, my mom, and everybody that was there to support me," he said.
Cheney separated himself from the crowd as a high school senior, winning Region 4-AAAAA titles in the 110- and 300-meter hurdle events, then capturing both crowns at the state meet.
"Some people have told me I have natural ability," he said. "You can't get anywhere with natural ability, so I had to put the hard work in there, too."
Cheney increased his training regimen last summer, and hit the weight room hard. He also competed in - and won - national meets in California and Florida.
Those performances helped him land a scholarship offer from Tulane University earlier this year; but shortly after committing to Tulane, the school discontinued its track program.
That unexpected hurdle made Cheney's senior season pivotal. He realized a strong showing at state could secure a scholarship.
"If I'd thought about that, the pressure would have gotten to me, so I put it all out of my mind," he says.
His focus paid off at the state championships, and the Clemson coaching staff took notice.
"Clemson was actually impressed with my performance at state. If I'd done bad, they might not have thought too much of me," he said. "I was disappointed about what happened with Tulane, but I actually think it was for the best. Clemson's coach is one of the best, and the conference is a whole lot better."
Clemson track coach Charles Foster is a former world record holder in the 110 hurdles, and the Tigers finished ranked No. 4 in the country last season.
Throw in some athletic scholarship money, and the school's strong mechanical engineering program, and Cheney had an offer he couldn't refuse.
Cheney has set high goals for his college career, and beyond, but the first priority is adapting to the next level. College teams run the 400-meter hurdles, rather than the 300, and Cheney also will have to adjust to change in the 110s.
"In high school, the hurdles are 39 inches, and in college they're 42, so I'll have to get used to the higher hurdles."
Cheney's coach Doug Gurth doesn't think that will be a problem for the only Evans athlete to ever win a state track title.
"He's got the height and the natural ability that I don't think it will affect him," Gurth said. "He'll be able to slide right in and make a big impact with Clemson."
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