On a day dominated by football players, a pair of western Iowa track and field standouts snared a small portion of the spotlight.
In ceremonies at their high schools on Wednesday, Derek Jones of Glenwood signed a national letter of intent with Iowa State and Chaley Rath of Treynor pledged to Northern Iowa.
Jones finished second in the Class 3-A 400-meter hurdles last year and third in the same race at the Drake Relays. He faced a two-part decision, as the first involved whether he would compete in football and track in college. He considered doing both at Division II Northwest Missouri State.
He eventually eliminated football and whittled his track choices to Iowa and Iowa State, taking official visits to both. The Cyclones offered “more money than I expected,'' he said. He took an unofficial visit back to Ames last month and still felt comfortable.
“I was never too stressed,'' said Jones, who plans to go into engineering.
Treynor's Rath cleared 5 feet, 8¼ inches last year to set a Class 1-A state-meet record. It was the top jump in either the Nebraska or Iowa state meets. She was offered a full ride in her first year with the Panthers.
“It's pretty hard to turn something like that down,'' Rath said.
Rath picked the Panthers over Iowa State. She said UNI wants her to give the heptathlon a shot. She called it “a little scary,'' but added she's willing to try it.
Another versatile, high-profile western Iowa athlete made his intentions known on Wednesday.
Sioux City East senior Dom Thompson-Williams, the offensive honorary captain on The World-Herald's All-Western Iowa football team (Class 4-A/3-A) and the honorary captain on the All-WI large-school baseball team last summer, said he intends to play both sports next year at Iowa Western Community College.
The 6-foot 185-pounder led all classes last season with 112.2 receiving yards per game to go with 12 touchdowns. On the diamond, the pitcher-outfielder led Class 4-A in batting average (.544), doubles (25) and stolen bases (42). Iowa Western is the reigning national champion in both sports.
Northern Iowa added three highly regarded Siouxland football standouts: Sioux City Heelan defensive end Zach Skibinski (6-4, 250) and offensive lineman Bryce Sweeney (6-6, 310), and Sioux City East offensive lineman Jon McReynolds (6-5, 290).
Northwest Missouri State added a pair of standouts from Fremont-Mills, tight end Clayton Wilson (6-4, 200) and lineman Seth Phillips (6-0, 240), along with defensive lineman Keaton Hulett (6-3, 215) of Creston.
Division II Wayne State added three WI athletes, wide receiver Marcel Dunson (6-2, 205) and safety Jake McDonald of Sioux City East (6-0, 195) and offensive lineman Cody Kahl of IKM-Manning (6-7, 270). Glenwood lineman J.J. Hahn (6-5, 300) signed with Northern State, a Division II school in Aberdeen, S.D.
Morningside, the NAIA national runner-up in 2012, added Caden McDonald and Logan Melby of Logan-Magnolia, and Britton Barrier and Doug Hoke of Tri-Center. Northwestern College gained Paul Hutson of Logan-Magnolia and Mitchell Lensch of Glidden-Ralston.
Jordan Siebert of Harlan Community signed with Drake, and Noah McKeever of Sidney signed with Hastings.
Other reported signings:
Track and field: Northwest Missouri State: Cassie Kruse, Glenwood. Iowa Western: Brittany Kulesa, Treynor; Breezy Weaver, Missouri Valley.
Girls soccer: Morningside: Amy Grause, Sioux City East. Dordt: De Felts, Sioux City East.
Volleyball: DMACC: Amber Huttmann, CB Lewis Central; Nevada Meis, CB St. Albert. Morningside: Katie Kuck, CB St. Albert.
Baseball: Iowa Western: Trey Lapke, Sioux City East.
Softball: Morningside: Ashley Palandri, CB Thomas Jefferson; Keisha Eickholt, Sioux City North; Madison Lee, Sioux City North; Ashtyn Schubert, Sergeant Bluff-Luton. Kirkwood: Madison Keysor, Treynor.
Kirkwood: Madison Keysor, Treynor.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1055, email@example.com, twitter.com/KWhiteOWH