A number of Highland athletes will be making the move from high school to college this fall, becoming student-athletes at institutions located throughout the state.
Sophia Thompson will continue her running career in cross country at track at Ohio Northern University, where she will major in pre-med.
“I really liked the coach and the family atmosphere was like home,” she said. “Academically, they have a good pharmacy program, so their pre-med is good, too.”
Thompson, who was first in her class academically, as well as president of her class and honor society and homecoming queen, lettered in cross country, track and bowling all four years. She also lettered in marching band three times before giving that up as a senior to focus on cross country.
“For a long time, I had a bunch of colleges on my list, but I’m happy with my decision,” she said of her pick of Ohio Northern.
One thing she is looking forward to is being challenged on a daily basis to improve athletically.
“I definitely noticed in high school that not a lot of people pushed me,” she said. “It’ll be exciting to run with the girls and not the boys.”
Also moving on in track is Travis Mentzer, who will attend Wittenburg.
In that sport with the Scots, Mentzer had a lot of success in the league meet, placing in the 800 and as part of the 3200-meter relay in all four years of high school. He also was a two-time placer in the 1600 and also placed as a senior in the 1600-meter relay. Mentzer also was a district placer in the 1600 and 3200-meter relay.
Two members of the Highland football — Matt Reid and Javier Vasquez — both picked Baldwin-Wallace as their university. The two, who were good friends in high school, were both excited to stay together for the next four years.
“Out of all the schools, that one stood out the most,” said Vasquez, who will major in business. “And one of my best friends since first grade will be my roommate and on the field with me.”
Added Reid, who plans to major in education: “The coaching staff was great and they have amazing facilities. I’m really excited to be able to go there with Javi and keep playing together.”
Vasquez added that one thing he’s looking forward to doing is being part of another team that reminds him of the camaraderie he experienced with Highland.
“I’m looking forward to finding a new family and a good family just like Highland was,” he noted.
Last year, Vasquez was a first-team defensive pick in the KMAC, while Reid earned second-team honors.
McKenzie Fuller will play basketball for Muskingum.
She was a three-time all-league representative for the Scots, earning second-team honors twice in her four years as a varsity player and taking honorable mention recognition once.
Also moving on from the Lady Scots was Erica Sardinha, who will play for Ohio Wesleyan. Sardinha, who will major in exercise science, loved the way everyone got along on the team.
“First, the coach was very nice and welcoming,” she said. “The team is a tight-knit group of friends. They hardly ever get into fights, but when they do, they talk it out.”
Sardinha, who also was a multi-time all-league pick off the Lady Scots — including a first-team selection this past year — expects the college game to be more challenging, in large part due to the increased size of opposing players.
“Defense,” she said when asked about the toughest adjustment. “I’ll be playing with grown women where they’re almost seven feet tall, so that’ll be a challenge for me.”
Kaleb Phillips will move on to play on the men’s basketball team at Wittenburg after finishing a senior year in which he was a second-team all-league performer. He’s planning to double-major in business marketing and business entrepreneurship.
“Just in my spirit, it felt right when I got there,” he said of the school. “I have family in Springfield and they’re the winningest team in Division III.”
Phillips felt that his versatility on the court played a big role in getting the school’s interest.
“They really like my work ethic and personality and when I play basketball, I play outside and inside and am a very versatile player,” he said.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS