A new tradition was started Wednesday at Wenatchee and Eastmont, as the two schools honored student-athletes that have committed to play sports at colleges on National Letter of Intent signing day with a ceremony in the evening.
Each school had four athletes sign with four-year schools.
Wenatchee’s Dustin Driver will pitch for UCLA next year, which was ranked No. 2 in this season’s USA Today/ESPN preseason poll. The senior hurler, whose fastball has been clocked at 96 miles per hour, received interest from a number of programs, including Texas, Arkansas and Oregon State, but has been leaning toward UCLA for more than a year.
“I’m pretty excited I know where I’m going,” he said.
Cody O’Connell, who started for the Panthers football varsity squad for three years as an offensive lineman, will attend Washington State University. The 6-foot-9, 350-pound senior has logged in time at the guard and tackle position and is excited to compete for a spot on the team’s roster.
O’Connell, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in September, said he’s willing to step in and play whichever position the Cougars need.
“I really don’t care,” he said. “(I’m excited to be) playing the game I love and being able to hit people.”
Wenatchee sprinter Christie Adams will compete in track next year in the heptathlon at Seattle Pacific University. Adams spent her high school career competing in the 100- and 200-meter dash, but is looking forward to the challenges the heptathlon will bring.
“I’m excited not to be just a sprinter anymore,” she said.
Kristina Tribley signed a letter of intent to play for Western Washington University as a setter. Tribley, who also spent time as a right side hitter, was offered a scholarship in the summer of 2011.
Baseball players Kyle Blankenship and Adam Grubb also signed letters of intent to play for Wenatchee Valley College next season.
Eastmont’s list is headlined by soccer player Mitch Meyers, who will compete in the NCAA’s Western Athletic Conference as a defender for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
“Mitch is one of those players that you can always rely on,” boys soccer coach Eric Duffey said at Eastmont’s ceremony. “He joined the team last year as a junior and was a great addition. He played center in the defense, and he quickly became reliable no only to me, but also to his teammates, and he was voted most inspirational on the team last year.”
Another soccer star, midfielder Karlee Goehner, signed with Central Washington University. The four-year letter winner and three-year captain led the Wildcats in assists in both 2011 and 2012.
“Opposing teams knew where Karlee was at all times. She was tenacious, fearless, ruthless,” Eastmont athletic director Russ Waterman said.
In volleyball, 6-foot-1 Cassidy Brewer will head from Eastmont to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks to play outside hitter and middle blocker. Brewer is a four-year letter winner and two-time all-Big Nine selection for the Wildcats.
“She’s a powerful offensive hitter as well as a blocker,” Alaska assistant coach Mallory Larranaga said of Brewer in a press release. “In a recruiting gym, you heard her kills and couldn’t help but look, which we wanted immediately.”
Kylie Buterbaugh was the lone basketball player to sign Wednesday — the Eastmont guard will play for California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., next winter. Buterbaugh was a sharpshooter for three seasons at Wenatchee before transferring this school year to Eastmont, where she consistently led the Wildcats in scoring.
“She’s added a lot of versatility to our team this year,” Eastmont girls basketball coach Tessa Bromiley said. “She’s a four-year letter winner, which says a lot about her work ethic.”
Several Caribou Trail League athletes will also be taking their talents to four-year colleges next year.
Cashmere football player Moe Roberts, the CTL’s co-offensive player of the year in 2012, is getting an early jump on his career at Eastern Washington University.
“He will be attending EWU this spring and working out with the team during spring practice,” Cashmere coach Phil Zukowski said.
Chelan volleyball player Courtney Dietrich, the CTL’s player of the year in 2012, will play for Sacramento State University.
“I really like Courtney’s athleticism and her strength in the middle,” Sacramento State coach Ruben Volta said in a press release. “She has a really nice arm swing and I anticipate her making an impact for us right away.”
Cascade volleyball player Arielle Turner, an all-CTL selection who led the Kodiaks to a third-place state finish in 2012, will play for the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
Cashmere runner Angela Knishka will attend Lewis-Clark State College and participate on its cross country and track and field squads.
“We think Angela has a huge amount of potential,” Lewis-Clark State coach Mike Collins said in a press release. “She has great wheels and has shown some promise at the shorter events like the 400 and 800 in track. Our goal will be to help her take advantage of this speed in cross country. We are very excited about adding her to our family here.”