Four Highland graduates all were recognized for their intention to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level in May.
Caleb Matos will run track for Ohio Christian University. He will major in business and expects to run in relays and perhaps the 800 on the track team.
“Honestly, my college decision came down to I definitely wanted to go to a Christian school,” he said. “I really liked the school and the campus was nice.”
Matos noted that he had several good memories from his time at Highland, citing senior night in football, as well as the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference meet this spring.
“Definitely the students,” he said. “I had some great memories with teammates and coaches.”
When it comes to the college experience, the 2017 Scot graduate is simply looking forward to what the future holds.
“Just getting to know new people,” he said when asked what he was looking forward to. “To challenge myself against new people.”
Also running track in college is Austyn Albanese, who will attend Wittenberg University.
“I ran at an indoor track meet and met with the coach there,” he said. “They seemed pretty interested in me in the 400.”
Albanese, who will major in biology and minor in marine biology, found Wittenberg to be a good fit.
“I just decided to sign there because it was a great atmosphere and great track program and they need someone in the four-by-four relay.”
One decision he had to make was simply what he wanted to do in college, as he also considered Ohio Wesleyan for both track and football and Muskingum for football. “Football took a lot of time and I wanted to focus on one sport instead of being pressured by two,” he explained.
Laura Spearman will attend Kentucky Christian University, where she will run cross country and major in early childhood education. She also will participate in cheerleading, something she didn’t do while at Highland.
“I originally wanted a small, Christian college and my first thought was Mount Vernon Nazarene, but I wanted to be somewhere new and different,” she said. “The enrollment is about 500 kids, so I thought it was a good size. It’s far enough away from home, I could branch out and meet new people.”
Spearman noted that she realized she wanted to run in college after the district track meet her junior year, as she barely lost a duel for the final regional qualifying spot in a relay.
“Definitely last year at the district finals,” she said. “Running the four-by-eight, I was the last leg. We were running stride by stride, but she started pulling away in the last 100 meters and she beat me by one-tenth of a second. That stewed with me and impacted me. It showed me how much I love running.”
Taylor Belcher will play volleyball at Otterbein, while majoring in nursing.
“We went to a tournament at Otterbein through high school,” she said. “I liked the atmosphere and they have a really nice nursing program.”
Belcher expects to see action as a setter, but noted she also could be used as a right-side hitter. After a successful high school career, she has plenty of good memories about her time with Highland, in particular reaching the Division III Final Four as a senior.
“This past year, going to the state Final Four, with the amount of emotion going into it,” she said in describing her favorite memory.
Now, she’s looking to see how far she can go as a collegiate player.
“I’m really excited to see how I develop as a player,” she said. “Our team made me so much better, especially this year. I’m excited to meet my full potential.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS