By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Fifteen athletes signed their Letters of Intent to play athletics at the next level starting this upcoming school year at Sprague High School Wednesday night.
Logan Smith (Football, College of the Redwoods), Colton Herring (Football, College of the Redwoods), McKenzie Wernicke (Soccer, Chapman) Caylin Gadberry (Soccer, Linfield University), Abby Sorensen (Volleyball, OIT), Dallon Morgan (Basketball, Eastern Arizona College), Brook Byers (Wrestling, Stanford), Brayden Boyd (Wrestling, Corban), Bo Davis (Wrestling, Corban), Bailey Kalar (Cross Country/Track, Pacific), Carley Schlag (Softball, Western Oregon University), Sophia Honse (Softball, Western Illinois University), Maddy Neufeld (Golf, Linfield), Jonathan Scott (Golf, Central Michigan University) and Chris Rogers (Baseball, Edmonds) all signed at the ceremony.
Some signings had some family ties to them. For Byers, he’ll be attending where his Father went and played Football at back in the early 1990’s, his Father graduating in 1993.
“It’s pretty special,” said the 182-pound 6A State Champion. :”I feel really blessed with the opportunity to attend a school like Stanford and be a part of the dominant wrestling program. As a program and individually we’re hoping to improve everyday. We have a coach, Coach (Rob) Knoll who is a great recruiter and a great coach. I’m confident in my ability and my team’s ability to improve everyday.
“The last four years have shaped me, not just as a wrestler, but as a person. Everyone that has been a part of my life has been great. It’s just more than just wrestling or academics, it’s all a working mechanism there in life.”
The past four years have shaped each one of the athletes as they embark on their next chapter of their journey. It doesn’t matter if it’s Junior College, NAIA, Division-III, D-2, or D-1, they were all sitting together. Celebrating the same result of being able to play college athletics.
Some of it was motivation. A drive within like with or a challenge to see how far you can push yourself.
“A lot of motivation for me came from AJ (Lapray). He’s up there on the leader-boards and I always seen him up there. It pissed me off because I always wanted to be better than him. He helped train me a lot to get me to where I am. I think that was a big motivation for me in always wanting to be better than him. He was very good player, so I figured if I can be better than him, than I’ll be in a really good spot,” describes Morgan.
Playing with his best friends was a big motivation too for Morgan and being able to share that experience with them as Morgan finished his High School career second in All-Time Scoring, Second in rebounds and seventh in assist as he’ll head to EAC. Similar to Byers he had a family member there too with his grandfather attending and playing with the Gila Monsters, graduating there in 1959.
“It’s going to be really cool. I’ve never met my grandpa, he died before I was born. For me it’s cool to go there and I heard even before I’m there I’ve had my coaches texting me going, ‘hey I ran into this guy who knows your grandpa’. So I’m super stoked in coming there and find out some stuff that I didn’t know about my grandpa,” Morgan said.
Depsite playing different sports in college, former Olympian Soccer teammates in Neufeld and Gadberry will each have a familiar face on campus. The two friends will room together this upcoming year despite their collegiate changes in sports.
“It’s good to have someone. It’s really awesome especially since we’re rooming together and it’ll be good because we’ll be on the same schedules. We’ll help each other with classes and get through our classes together and go to practices whenever we need it,” Gadberry said.
“I’m super excited, we’re going to be roommates so I’m even more excited about that because we’re going to be together at school. We’ll make new friends and it’ll be fun,” Neufeld adds.
Gadberry was a captain on the Sprague team this past year, helping lead the Olys to the postseason for the first time since 2015. Capping the last four years playing for Kevin Plechl and the Sprague Girls Soccer program.
“All my coaches helped me, coach KP was a big one. Pushing me to my best and my parents were big on always telling me to come out and go practice. Even when I don’t practice, just go out to train and do everything to the best of my ability,” Gadberry said.
Neufeld went to State as a freshman and as a senior in golf, finishing 85th while shooting a 236 over the two-days before improving her ranking and scores her Senior year where she finished 51st while shooting a 189, closing out her senior year strongly heading into college.
“It went OK. There were a couple holes that I wished I did better, but I did pretty well,” Neufeld said. “I think next year is going to be really fun for me and it’ll do well for my golf career.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald