PAOLA — Carson Eilts is following in the great Paola Panther tradition, joining a list of state medalists to sign with Pittsburg State University.
Eilts is a senior letter-winner on the Paola Panther track and field team. He is a four-year member of the program.
He was runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles at the Class 4A state track and field meet as a junior. Eilts placed third in the 110-meter high hurdles.
Eilts made the decision official Nov. 30, signing a national letter of intent during a ceremony at Paola High School with teammates, coaches, friends and family by his side.
“When it came to signing with Pittsburg State, not only was I looking for an amazing coaching staff that I feel could better me as an athlete, but I had done extensive research into my major and they had exactly what I was looking for,” Eilts said. “It is extremely humbling knowing that I get to compete at the NCAA level at one of the most impressive NCAA Division II schools in the country. Not everyone gets the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Eilts started competing in track and field for Paola back in seventh grade. He has been on the track ever since.
“I first decided I wanted to compete in college after my sophomore year when my times went down tremendously,” he said. “My coaches suggested that if I worked hard enough in my junior and senior year I’d be a potential recruit for colleges.”
Eilts has come a long way since his freshman season with the Panthers, Paola coach Mike Smith said.
“Carson has grown from a freshman hurdler who was a junior varsity competitor to a varsity leader, letterman, state-placer, school record holder and now college athlete,” Smith said. “Carson is very competitive and is very coachable.
“He always works to get better and will do anything to help the team,” Smith said. “His true love is the hurdles. Pittsburg State is getting a great hurdler and a great kid.”
Signing his name on the piece of paper, knowing he was going to compete for the Pittsburg State Gorillas in college was an incredible experience, Eilts said.
“It is unreal,” he said. “It is nothing I’ve ever experienced before. A flurry of emotions came over me and I was just unbelievably happy.
“Honestly, the Paola coaching staff is ultimately the reason I am where I am,” he said. “The team has a history of winning and they have the most elite coaching staff in the whole state.”
Eilts plans on majoring in business administration with an emphasis on finance.
He is the son of William Eilts and Amanda Maichel.