WHITESBORO — After two years in high school Grant Butts hadn’t completed a single cross country meet. The work the Bearcat senior put in over his final two years was enough to earn him a Division I scholarship.

WHITESBORO — After two years in high school Grant Butts hadn’t completed a single cross country meet. The work the Bearcat senior put in over his final two years was enough to earn him a Division I scholarship.


"My freshman year I wasn’t really interested, went to a couple practices. Sophomore year I tore my meniscus," Butts said. "I really didn’t think I was going to get a scholarship to run in college but it happened."


Butts completed his rapid rise by signing a letter of intent to run cross country for Northwestern State, located in Natchitoches, La., on Thursday afternoon.


He chose the Demons over Stephen F. Austin, Central Arkansas, West Alabama, Oklahoma Christian and Harding.


"The competition’s going to be a lot harder," Butts said. "I loved the campus and it’s not too far from home."


Butts finished 11th at 16:44.83 in the Class 2A state cross country meet this past fall and helped Whitesboro take seventh in the program’s first appearance at the state meet.


The recruiting process was in full swing by then but his final performance enhanced his standing with Northwestern assistant Amy Guinn.


"I had started talking to them in October and she gave me a good offer and then after state she gave me a better offer," Butts said.


His strong finish came after he won the district meet for the second straight year and finished fifth at the regional meet.


"I had experience under my belt," Butts said. "I knew how I could push my body."


In nine meets during the 2013 season, Whitesboro won four times to go with another third-place finish.


Butts won the 11-2A meet as a junior, when the Bearcats won the district title, in 17:58.50 and finished 14th at the regional meet in 17:26.87.


Northwestern State competes in the Southland Conference and placed 12th at the conference meet in the fall. The team opened the indoor season last month.


The Demons were eighth in the Southland standings in 2012 and were 10th in the conference in 2011.


"I’ll be doing whatever they want me to," he said.


Butts will also run track for the Demons, expecting to compete in the 800, mile and two mile races. He was the district champion in the 800 and 1,600 last spring and was fourth at the regional meet, just short of a wild-card entry in the 1,600 that went to running partner and 2A state cross country champ Evan McQuirk of Van Alstyne.


"It was the first time I had run in them so I learned. My main one’s definitely the mile," Butts said. "I really want to go to state in track. I really think I’m going to make it."