GW’s Malika Houston signs to run track at Georgetown

George Washington’s Malika Houston (seated) laughs with sister Cadence Taylor (left), mother Carolyn Taylor and grandmother Gretchen Spella (right) during a ceremony at the school where she signed a letter of intent to run track at Georgetown University. (Justin Rogers | Gazette-Mail)

One trip to Washington and the campus of Georgetown University was all it took for George Washington track athlete Malika Houston to fall in love.

She’ll spend the next few years as a Hoya and as an NCAA Division I hurdler, signing a letter of intent Wednesday to attend Georgetown and compete for its Big East Conference track and field program.

Houston was one of eight GW student-athletes who signed letters of intent Wednesday afternoon. Several were to Mountain East Conference schools — place-kicker Nathan Parsons to Glenville State and baseball player Josh Petit, girls swimmer Alayna Thompson and boys goalkeeper Cooper Zent all to West Virginia Wesleyan.

Boys swimmer Patrick Reed signed with Ohio Northern, girls lacrosse player Grace Moore signed with Guilford College in North Carolina and girls sprinter Gabrielle Reynolds signed with Davis & Elkins.

Houston admitted she needed that trip to Georgetown to make sure it was the right place for her.

“Coming into it, I was feeling iffy about it,” she said. “And I walked through the campus and I fell completely in love with Georgetown. Everything about it, the people, the buildings, the atmosphere, it felt like I place I could really be for four years.”

Houston will run hurdles with the Hoyas, but she has made her mark in several areas in West Virginia prep track and field. She won the Class AAA state long jump championship as a sophomore, finished second in the 100 hurdles as a sophomore, second in the 300 hurdles as a junior and finished third in the 100 hurdles and long jump as a junior.

Parsons was named to the All-Kanawha Valley football team following his senior season after booting three field goals and 45 extra points for the Patriots. His two field goals in a 34-18 win over Capital in GW’s regular-season finale helped secure a home playoff game for the Patriots. Petit is one of the Kanawha Valley’s leaders with nine stolen bases. As a junior, he hit .396 with 25 RBIs, earning honorable mention on the Class AAA All-State baseball team.

Reed and Thompson were stalwarts on the Patriot swimming team. Reed won four state titles at February’s state championships, swimming a leg on GW’s 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams and winning individual crowns in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Thompson was part of the state runner-up 200 medley relay team and fourth-place 400 free relay team and finished fourth in the 100 butterfly.

Zent was named the state’s goalkeeper of the year and a Class AAA All-State first teamer by the West Virginia Soccer Coaches Association. He recorded five saves in the Class AAA state championship game as GW beat University 4-0. Reynolds was part of GW’s 4x400-meter relay team that finished sixth in last season’s Class AAA state championships and finished fifth in the long jump in last season’s Mountain State Athletic Conference championships. Moore was named MVP of the 2015 girls lacrosse state title game and earned a spot in the 2016 West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association’s All-Star Game.

“Our kids come out and they work hard,” GW athletic director Shawn Wheeler said. “A lot of them, when they come in as freshmen, strive to go to the next level. That hard work over the four years that they’re here and the hard work that the coaches put in with them pays off. We’re lucky to have as many signees as we do year after year.”

Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or derek.redd@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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