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'Always an Eagle at heart,' Ward proud as prep career comes to a close


Spencer Ward concluded last month one of the more glorious careers a Nixa multi-sport athlete has put together in recent years.

Ward etched his name on the Eagles’ records board in both football and track, was named the COC Defensive Player Of the Year and earned a spot on the Class 6 All-State First Team from his safety post and bowed out by running the opening leg on Nixa’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays at the Class 5 State Track Meet.

His final day wearing a Nixa jersey didn’t slip past Ward.

"It's surreal,” he said. “I’m going to miss it. Always an Eagle at heart.”

It was an anticlimactic ending for Ward. There was no medal finish at State. The Eagles’ relays were minus injured anchor man Randy Flint and were far from qualifying for the finals.

But it was still a fulfilling finish for Ward, after he teamed with Jaren Davis, Troy Huff and Flint to set a school record in the 4 x 100 relay (42.25) and teamed with Davis, Caden Brown and Flint to set a school mark in the 4 x 200 relay (1:28.24).

“This is a very individual sport, but we put the team aspect into track," Ward said. "Going into the season, one of my goals was to get my name in the records book. I thought I was going to do it in one of the open (sprints). But I realized I could help out in the relays and we could smash those records. I'd rather share a record with someone than have a record just by myself, anyway. That's the type of person I am. I want to share greatness with others.”

Looking ahead, Ward will report to Pitt State on July 7 for the beginning of his Gorillas football career. When Ward signed with Pitt State back in February, he had been unsure of his future leading up to signing day.

“I was making my choice up until the day of signing day. It was down to the wire,” he said.

Ward was also strongly considering Harvard, Dartmouth and Kansas State. He made a visit to Harvard’s famed Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus.

“It was a cool experience and a way different culture than here,” Ward said. “Originally, that's where I thought I was going to go. But some things happened in that process and they kind of did me wrong in a way. They pulled their offer when the head coach retired. Then, they gave me an offer again. But at that point, they showed me where I stood with them. That pushed them off of my list.”

Ultimately, the allure of joining his older brother, Steven, at Pitt State won out. Steven transferred from Missouri State and joined the Gorillas for the spring semester.

“He was chirping in my ear,” Spencer said. “Playing with my brother again is going to be so much fun.

"God put me in the right spot,” he added. “I had some crazy opportunities. I chose Pitt because it felt right, most like home."