Senior athletes sign to play at the collegiate level

On Nov. 11 2015, the first official signing period for National Letters of Intent, opened. As the class of 2016 prepares for graduation, a multitude of senior student athletes have begun to sign their allegiance to their future colleges.

For senior swimmer Cierra Campbell, she will go from a record-breaker, to a record-setter at her college, Indiana State University. A women’s swim and dive team was added to the ISU’s mix of sports in 2014, and the first season of competition will be the 2016-2017 school year, Campbell’s freshman year.

The first ever commit for the program, Campbell is looking forward to her future leadership role-one not unfamiliar. As one of the 13 original members on her competitive swim team, Campbell has experience being the foundation for a team.

“I love the idea of building a collegiate team,” she said. “I saw this opportunity as a chance to grow as a leader, person and athlete.”

I love the idea of building a collegiate team. I saw this opportunity as a chance to grow as a leader, person and athlete.

— senior Cierra Campbell

Despite being 450 miles away from home, Campbell is looking forward to the new adventure ahead.

“I can’t wait to meet new people and create new memories,” she said.

For senior cross country and track runners, Ethan Donley and Claire Sanner, however, their collegiate careers are just down the road. Committed to run for Kansas University, both Donley and Sanner didn’t initially expect to stay in Lawrence, or Kansas, for that matter.

“Originally I was looking to run for a team in the Big 12 Conference but I wanted to leave and go out of state,” Donley said.“It was after my official visit [to KU] that I felt this is where I really wanted to go, and could see myself achieving my full potential.”

Sanner agreed, “At first, I had my mind set on going out of state, but as I got farther into the [college decision] process, KU really grew on me and I realized it was the best fit for me.”

Both Donely and Sanner have made huge impacts on the Free State Track and Cross Country programs. Competing for four years at the varsity level, both are hoping to make a similar impression when they join their teams at KU.

Donely is looking to step in and consistently be one of the team’s top seven runners in cross country, and qualify for national meets for track.

Sanner wants to continue the success KU’s Cross Country team experienced this year when they qualified for nationals for the first time in 21 years. She would like to contribute to and build upon the success of both the track and cross country teams during her time at the university. These two’s desire for success is also echoed in senior baseball player, Trevor Munsch.

An Oklahoma baseball commit, Munsch knew right when he stepped on campus for his visit that OU was the school for him.

“The coaching staff was top notch,” Munsch said. “It was far enough away from home to be out of state, but not too close, and they needed lefty pitchers.”

A 2016 State Baseball Champion, Munsch’s unique left handedness and ability to throw in the 85 mile per hour range earned him multiple Division 1 offers.

Despite an elbow injury that took away the first month of Munsch’s season, he was prepared to come back healthy, and make an impact for the Firebirds.

“I really just had to have the right mindset,” Munsch said. “I knew nothing was majorly wrong with my arm, but I needed to take the days off to rest and let it heal.”

I’ve wanted to play ball in college since I was young, and that summer I knew I was going to,

— senior Lauren Johnson

The healing paid off, and his dream of playing collegiate ball came true.

It seems to always start as a young dream for many student athletes to compete at the next level, and it was during club ball of her junior year, volleyball player Lauren Johnson knew she was ready to achieve it. A William Jewell volleyball commit, Johnson fell in love with her future home on a summer visit to the campus.

“When I took my first visit I could just really see myself going there,” she said.

A three year varsity letterman, it was over the summer of Johnson’s junior year she made the decision to pursue collegiate volleyball.

“I’ve wanted to play ball in college since I was young, and that summer I knew I was going to,” Johnson said.

With a beautiful campus and great academics, Johnson is confident in the new chapter she will begin.

While this is only a few of the many successful student athletes the class of 2016, it is clear there a slew of athletic talent throughout the halls of Free State High School, achieving their dreams on and off the field.