SWEETWATER — Harrison Foster doesn’t really get tired.
The Sweetwater senior is one of the state’s best hurdlers, second all-time at Sweetwater in the 110 hurdles (14.49 seconds) and fourth all-time in the 300 hurdles (39.04). Foster placed fifth in the 300 hurdles at the UIL State Track Meet last year, posting a time of 39.25.
But he isn’t just a star on the Mustangs’ track and field team.
Sweetwater track currently shares Foster’s time with Mustangs baseball, for which Foster is an outfielder. And before that, Foster competed on Sweetwater’s football and basketball teams, where he made first-team all-district in both sports.
Spare time doesn’t exactly come at a premium for Foster.
“Baseball practice ends about 7 o’clock, so I’ll go home, get some food, sit around for about an hour and wind down,” Foster said.
Not many high-school athletes choose to compete in both baseball and track. Between games, practices and conditioning outside of school, it’s a significant time commitment to juggle both.
Because of Foster’s dominance in so many events on the track, he’s a necessity for that team. But he’s also valuable in baseball, particularly in left field, where he often makes dazzling plays.
Thankfully, the coaches of those teams work well together to avoid conflicts.
“We both need that guy to be successful,” Sweetwater boys track coach Brian Hodnett said. “Everyone wants him on their team, and I’m no different.”
But ultimately the seamless cooperation comes down to Foster’s dedication to both groups.
“He knows when the baseball team has a big ballgame, he may get a little extra baseball time, and that’s OK,” Hodnett said. “He’s OK with coming in before school to get his track stuff done on a game day when they’re traveling out of town, so he’s not missing a day of working out.”
Foster’s 2022 track season has been his best yet.
The hurdler has won gold in every hurdle competition in which he has competed in at the local level and set the school’s record in the 110 hurdles at the Merkel Badger Relays on March 24. At the statewide Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Foster placed fifth in the 110 hurdles against athletes of all classes.
And on the diamond, Foster has recorded several multi-hit games for the Mustangs in addition to being one of the team’s best fielders.
“You want guys like that to be successful because, in my mind, he’s earned the right to be successful,” Hodnett said.
Success in other sports
Foster was similarly dominant for the Mustangs’ football and basketball teams earlier in the school year.
At wide receiver, Foster caught 72 passes for 1,347 yards and 11 touchdowns, helping Sweetwater reach the area round of the Class 4A playoffs. He was a first-team All-Big Country Super Team selection.
On the hardwood, Foster averaged 16.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game to earn first-team all-district honors.
“The confidence that Harrison brought into basketball came directly from his success in other sports,” Sweetwater basketball coach Evan Grantham said. “There was a confidence that he knew how to be successful on the court, but also that he could help others enjoy that same success as well.”
Foster added, “Putting in the hard work, long hours, early mornings, you can’t come in and not give anything, because then you’re not working toward a certain goal.”
Foster’s excellence in all four sports can be traced to natural athleticism and participation in multiple sports. But it can also be attributed to his dedication aside from practices and games — even when his sports are out of season.
It’s common to find Foster shooting hoops in the summer, running hurdles in the fall or walking through routes in the spring.
“He has a great foresight of what he needs to do a couple months down the road,” Hodnett said. “Not many high school kids have that.”
Of the four sports, Foster believes he is best at track. Foster’s basketball coach agrees.
“It is hard to say that track isn’t his best sport,” Grantham said. “He is a stud on the football field, but I would have to say track, simply by what he has accomplished.”
Others, though, aren’t sure what he’s best at.
“Anything he does, he does well,” Sweetwater baseball coach Steven Biera said.
Foster isn’t just an athletic star, though. He’s also a model student.
The senior is near the top of his graduating class with a 4.0 grade point average and is involved with other groups outside of athletics.
He is a member of Sweetwater’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter, where he participates in land and livestock judging events. Foster recently exhibited the Reserve Champion Middleweight Cross at the Fort Worth Stock Show in February.
Being involved with non-athletic activities has helped Foster develop leadership traits that translate to athletic competition.
“I would say I’ve become a better communicator,” Foster said. “A lot of my friends are doing these as well, so I get to communicate with them. We know who we are and it’s helped us grow.”
Hodnett said, “There’s just a lot of good coming from the whole situation. I can say it, but when a kid models it, it speaks volumes, especially when he’s successful at the level he’s at.”
Setting an example
When Foster isn’t excelling at his various passions, he’s helping younger athletes.
As a senior, Foster has put an emphasis on coaching some of the Mustangs’ underclassmen hurdlers. Between adjusting the blocks and teaching them to improve their form, Foster has helped his teammates turn in faster times.
“That’s the true definition of leadership,” Hodnett said. “He’s not out there for him; he’s out here for everybody.”
Not only is Foster a leader in Sweetwater’s athletic department, he’s a leader to the community.
Hodnett has four sons, all of whom look up to Foster. They are a few of the many children in the area who dream of achieving similar success — both athletically and academically — to Foster.
“They think he hung the moon,” Hodnett said. “Harrison takes time to hang out with them, and that just speaks to the kind of guy he is.”
Foster has big plans after he graduates from Sweetwater: He is signed to be a wide receiver for Abilene Christian University’s football team.
Because of his commitment with the football team, Foster likely won’t have time for track, basketball, baseball or livestock judging. His schedule will be more free than ever.
Foster has mixed feelings about that.
“I think I’ll miss it a lot,” Foster said. “Going to college, I’ll have a lot of hours to myself, and I think I’ll miss it all.”
Sweetwater head football coach Russell Lucas believes now that Foster will focus on just football, he has great untapped potential in the sport.
“He’s never trained to just be a football player,” Lucas said. “I think those coaches are going to get more than they bargained for. He’s already so talented, and now that he’s spending all of his time on one thing, his potential for growth is really high.”
Needless to say, playing college football at the Division I level is a challenge. Playing in the Western Athletic Conference, ACU regularly faces some of the nation’s best Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) programs, such as Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Incarnate Word.
He will follow another standout receiver from Sweetwater, Kobe Clark, a walk-on who became one of the Wildcats’ best career receivers.
But after such a successful, busy high school career, Foster feels prepared for what lies ahead.
“All the hard work I’m putting in right now, I think that’s going to pay off down the road,” Foster said. “It’s going to make it a smoother transition.”
Carson Field is the area sports reporter for the Abilene Reporter-News. He covers primarily Big Country high school sports. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to reporternews.com.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Sweetwater four-sport athlete Foster wrapping up high school career