SEELEY LAKE — While many high school seniors across Montana are preparing for college, Seeley-Swan High School’s Owen Hoag is taking that preparation to the next level.
He’s been accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, the training grounds and alma mater for military minds like Ulysses S. Grant, George Patton, and Buzz Aldrin. He’ll head to New York just two weeks after high school graduation to begin basic training.
Something Hoag says he’s excited for.
“I’m really excited to begin basic training,” Hoag said. “The physical aspect of it is right up my alley.”
Why is he so confident? He’s a record-breaking sprinter on the SSHS track team. He's a two-time defending Class C state champ in the 400-meter run and is also the reigning 200 champion.
He will be running for the academy’s track team as well.
“This is a huge honor that I don’t take lightly,” Hoag said. “I still want to get faster. There’s a couple school records I still want to break this year. I’m excited to give that a shot.”
He didn’t get into the academy on his athletic credentials alone. Each candidate cadet must pass intense scrutiny, showing a history of community service, academic excellence and a nomination from a member of congress.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester nominated Hoag for the academy, and said in a press release that he is proud of every Montanan who applies for the school.
“Montanans have a proud history of serving in our armed services, and it’s an honor to help our state’s best and brightest continue that legacy by attending our military service academies,” said Sen. Tester. “Owen’s outstanding commitment to serving our country is exactly the kind of leader we need in the military, and I look forward to seeing him continue to make our state proud.”
The Hoag family has very little military background, which makes Owen a trailblazer. He said breaking the mold is something he’s comfortable with.
“I guess it hadn’t really occurred to me that I’m the first in my family to do what I’m about to do,” Hoag said. “That changed when I visited West Point and talk to guys where it was tradition in their family to go. I’m really proud to be able to do this.”
He won’t be representing Montana alone. Of the 1,200 men and women joining the school, 20 Montanans received congressional nominations. Graduates of the academy join the armed forces for five years of active duty and three years in reserve.
Hoag says he’s just ready to go.
“I’m proud of it, because I’m a Montanan, Hoag said. “I like the idea of representing our state, my family, my town.”