Twenty-three athletes signed letters of intent to pursue collegiate athletics at a ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 3, in the main gym.
For senior Emma Wetzel, signing a letter of intent to play soccer at Washburn has been in the making for a while now.
“I committed with a coach named Tim Collins. He was my [Olympic Development Program] coach all throughout middle school and high school,” Wetzel said “I loved him and what he taught us [players] and I loved the way he coached. He coached at Washburn, so I’ve known I wanted to go to Washburn for a long, long time.”
Senior Lucas Krull felt ready to take the next step to collegiate athletics thanks to “all of these great coaches and athletes who really [humble me].” Krull signed to play baseball at the University of Arkansas, where family history and the reputation of the program played into his decision.
“I really love the school,” Krull said. “My sister attends there and and all of the facilities are the best of the world. The coaches are outstanding and I think it’s just a home away from home.”
All of the athletes who signed letters of intent were coached for years to prepare, something head football coach Joel Applebee made sure his system provided for the eight football players who signed.
“I feel like they’re prepared [for the college level],” Applebee said. “We as a program always try to get them ready to be in our program, and also, if they want the opportunity to go to the next level, we try to help them there as well.”
For senior Thomas Franco, signing a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Ottawa University came down to support from family and dedication over the years.
“It would have to go back to when I played in Minnesota, all up through elementary school,” Franco said. “All of the hard work I put in, and the times that my mom would drive me to practice even though it was raining outside or there was thunder or snow. All that has led up to signing today.”
Players signing to play in college have made a great impact, according to Applebee, who is both excited and grateful for his now-former players.
“[The signings] have a huge affect on our program. They led our program to our first state title and set the standard of what hard work can do,” Applebee said. “It is always gratifying to see the hard work come to fruition. I’m very proud of them and that part is very, very exciting.”
The following athletes signed:
Senior Tyler Grauer: Indiana State University, baseball
Senior AJ Knight: Cloud County Community College, baseball
Senior Lucas Krull: University of Arkansas, baseball
Senior Jack Nielsen: William Jewell College, baseball
Senior Tanner Reed: Johnson County Community College, baseball
Senior Brenden Shutt: Missouri University of Science & Technology, baseball
Senior Clayton Holmberg: Washburn University, boys basketball
Senior Logan Koch: Eastern Illinois University, boys basketball
Senior Hersimran Aujla: Hutchinson Community College, football
Senior Anthony Branch: Hutchinson Community College, football
Senior Anthony Brown: Butler Community College, football
Senior Spencer Clayborn: Butler Community College, football
Senior Ben Hecht: North Dakota State University, football
Senior Christian Jegen: University of Northern Iowa, football
Senior Tanner Jenkins: Missouri Western State University, football
Senior Cole Morris: Butler Community College, football
Senior Thomas Franco: Ottawa University, lacrosse
Senior Kennedy Hoffman: Emporia State University, girls soccer
Senior Emma Wetzel: Washburn University, girls soccer
Senior Christian Howe: Avila University, boys soccer
Senior Weston Waldron: Avila University, boys soccer
Senior Kally Claeys: Westminster College, softball
Senior Alicia Pickett: Missouri Southern State University, volleyball