Har-Ber is home to one of the state’s elite athletes. Senior Payton Stumbaugh is the fastest girl in Arkansas, a talent that her coach noticed when she was much younger.
“I think in seventh grade we had a pretty good idea she was going to be pretty special,” said Har-Ber track and field head coach Brett Unger. “But at that level you just don’t know how good yet.”
Fast forward six years and Payton Stumbaugh is arguably the greatest female track and field athlete Arkansas has ever produced. She accounted for 56 points at the 7A state meet last Thursday. That’s more points than what 12 schools had. For Stumbaugh it took her more time to realize how good she could be.
“Sophomore year in high school I felt like I was getting better and better and better and my dad was training me and I was training harder,” said senior Payton Stumbaugh. “I was beating senior girls and I was like ‘OK, I’m not that bad’ and then I won five state titles my sophomore year.”
Surprisingly, only one school offered Stumbaugh a scholarship.
“I really wasn’t thinking about OU until I went to a meet at Texas A&M. They saw me and called me and said ‘Hey we want you’ and he [OU coach] visited me,” said Stumbaugh. “I went to OU, loved it, loved the coaches they were awesome and I committed.”
It wasn’t until she committed that other schools, including Arkansas, took notice and extended offers.
“Right when they became interested I was like ‘This is making this so hard because I don’t know what to do exactly,'” said Stumbaugh. “But I was just thinking about it, thinking about the coaches, and I just thought Oklahoma would be the best for me.”
Stumbaugh still has two more goals she would like to complete at OU.
“I definitely want to become an All-American in college and then I definitely want to shoot for the Olympics,” said Stumbaugh. “Whichever one it is, 2016 or 2020, we’ll see.”