FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista cross-country and distance track runner Timberlin Henderson will compete for one of the top Division II teams in the country.

On Wednesday, Henderson signed his letter of intent to run for Western State Colorado University.

"I liked the environment and the degree they have," said Henderson, who plans on majoring in exercise and sports science. "They have a really strong team and adding me will just give them another strong runner."

Piedra Vista head cross-country coach Sampson Sage said Henderson's work ethic will help him make a "seamless transition" into collegiate competition.

"He's dedicated to what he does, and he wants to be the best, not just on the course or in a race, but in the classroom as well," Sage said. "He's a well-rounded kid that will be a big asset to their team."

Sage and the entire Panthers' coaching staff played an integral part in his training, Henderson said.

"They are very good at what they do. They know their stuff," he said.

Sage is hopeful that Henderson's success will motivate underclassmen within the program.

"Everyone who comes after him in the program sees that they've been working out with him and running with him," Sage said. "They see him move to the next level, and they believe they can do it, too."

Henderson was PV's top finisher at the 4A state cross-country meet in Rio Rancho on Nov. 9. He placed ninth with a time of 16:28.50 for the Panthers.

Western State, located in Gunnison, Colo., capped the 2013 cross-country season with a fourth place finish in the Division II national championship.

Western State head coach Jennifer Michel said Henderson's academics and athleticism will benefit the program, and she looks forward to seeing how he develops as a runner.

"He's a nice young man and will be a good fit for our program," Michel said. "We always plan on redshirting (freshmen) and let them mature and adjust to the altitude. That's what our program is built on is patience and development."

The Mountaineers compete in the 14-school Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which also includes New Mexico Highlands, Western New Mexico and Fort Lewis.

Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.