Destinee Howell has known her entire life that she wanted to be a collegiate athlete.

She signed off on her dream on Friday, as the Ardmore senior signed with Central Oklahoma for a track and field scholarship in front of friends and family at Ardmore High School.

It was a fitting end to an illustrious career for Howell, a four-sport athlete who started high school fully intent on leaving with a scholarship in something.

"That was my goal, to go either for softball or track," Howell said. "I've always wanted to be a college athlete. I've always wanted to do sports all through college and high school, so to finally have my dream come true is kinda cool. I'm happy."

After transferring to Ardmore her sophomore year from Madill, Howell became one of Ardmore's leaders in softball, basketball, cross country and track and field. In her three years, the Tigers' girls programs slowly rose back to prominence, capped by her runner-up finish in the 800-meter dash at the Class 5A state track meet May 11.

Howell also ran the anchor leg on the Tigers' second-place 4x800 relay team, helping Ardmore to a new school record time in the race and a seventh-place finish as a team in 5A. She wrapped up her career with her personal best in the 800 (2:21.32).

"She's a hard working girl," Ardmore track and cross country coach Steve Wright said. "Destinee's biggest contribution was that she was a senior and we didn't have any seniors. She was a mentor to the other girls. It carried over and they saw what it takes to be good.

"Destinee is a workaholic. It's obviously paid off."

Howell said the atmosphere at UCO was the deciding factor in her selecting school, which participates in the Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA).

"The campus was awesome; it's more like a big school with a small-school feeling," Howell said. "The people there are very nice and welcoming.

"I already have a friend there (former Madill/current UCO long jumper) Audrey Price. She kinda told me what to expect, so I feel more comfortable there. It's like a home."

Howell said she's happy with what she was able to accomplish personally and team-wise at Ardmore, and she hopes what she was able to do will inspire the younger group returning. Ardmore coach Brenda McHatton, who only had Howell for one year, said she hates to lose her only senior runner.

"I hope it just keeps getting better," Howell said. "I'm glad I was the person that helped them get back to where they need to be, and I kinda hope I inspired them to get better and keep trying.

"I really love the team that I ran with this year. I hope they take a lot from what I helped them do."

Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD