The dream of competing in the sport they love at the college level is something just about every high school athlete has dreamed about once or twice.
For a select collection of Madison County athletes that dream has become reality now that their high school careers have ended and college is on the horizon. Athletes from all across the county schools are making plans to play their sport at the next level.
The most accomplished athlete in the county has to be Jonathan Alder track standout Aziza Ayoub. The two-time Division II state champion in the 800-meter run will trade in her Red and Black Pioneer colors for the Scarlet and Gray of Ohio State University.
Ayoub will be very familiar with her surroundings, she ran in the state championships at OSU all four years in high school and has been in touch with OSU coaches for years.
“Ohio State has had Big Tens a few times in the last six years,” she said. “They also haven’t had anyone transfer out of their program recently, no kids wanted to leave or transfer anywhere else which says something. I really liked the team and everyone I met and I really liked the coaches. I think they believe in me too.”
Madison-Plains’ Blair Bryant will also stay local as she will continue to compete in track and field at Capital University in Bexley.
Jonathan Alder advanced all the way to the D-II state semifinals, doing so on the shoulders of Kayla Fredendall. The first team All-Ohio selection hit a pair of home runs in the regional semifinal win over Springfield Shawnee and then hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning of the D-II regional championship win over Greenville.
Fredendall will play Division I college softball at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
“I’ve worked my entire life to get here,” Fredendall said during the ceremony where she signed her National Letter of Intent. “I’ve always had the dream to go and play college softball. All my hard worked has paid off.”
West Jefferson’s Alexis Good will play her college softball at Capital University.
Alexis Hasting, a standout on the Lady Pioneers volleyball squad, will play Division I volleyball at West Virginia University.
High school teammate Julie Jakse signed a commitment letter to play at Wittenberg University.
A trio of West Jeff wrestlers will all continue their careers at the college level.
David Staten and Damir Pereria will both join the team at Otterbein University, while Jake Burns will travel north to become a member of the squad at Adrian (Mich.) College.
Madison-Plains graduates Jonathon Dill and Hunter McConkey will both play at the next level after Dill signed to play at Ohio Dominican University and McConkey agreed to join the team at Urbana University. McConkey will also play basketball at Urbana University.
Jonathan Alder’s Riley Gruenbaum signed to play D-I soccer at the University of Cincinnati. She helped Alder reach a district title game last fall. Teammate Kristen Beachy chose to continue her career at Ohio Wesleyan University.
MPHS’ Kaili Patterson is excited to get a chance to play a major role at Urbana University.
“The culture of the school was really nice, the history behind it,” Patterson said. “But I’ve talked to a lot of coaches but when I talked to coach (Kevin) Mounce I just really felt that this was the program that I would fit the best with.”
A handful of county athletes will go off to play football in college, including Hunter Maynard, an Alder grad, who will play at Limestone College in South Carolina.
MPHS’ Cameron Near (Muskingum) and Alder’s Colton Swick (Wittenberg) and Daniel Gowans (Ohio Wesleyan) all chose to play for D-III schools in the state of Ohio.
Alder teammates Cal Duckworth and Ian Gehres will both be heading out of state to play in college.
Duckworth will be headed North to Adrian College in Michigan and Gehres will head south to play at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky.
Alder graduate Devin Keaton will continue his athletic career at Heidelberg University.
Mackenzie Heimlich was a dominant force for the Lady Pioneers for four years, earning All-Ohio honors. She’ll be rolling along next year for Urbana University.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.