April 30, 2014 - By Trevor Keiser
Front Row: Left to Right: Emily Cleland, Sam Medici, Madi Eschberger, Zeb Throne, Mitch Tilley, Zach Wood, Wes Maskill and Haley Kornburger. Back Row: Kyla Kurczewski, Kristen Godwin, Darien Bandel, Kyle Reason, Jacob Schenten, Joey Ufolla, Taylor Barrett and Liz Ettinger. Photo by Matt Johnson. (click for larger version)
Leader Staff Writer
Twenty-four athletes in one year is the biggest group to sign to play at the college level from Oxford, according Athletic Director Mike Watson, who held one final ceremony for all college athlete signers on April 16.
"That's more (signers) than any time I've been here," noted Watson. "I think if I were to focus on anything, I would focus on the fact that many of these students didn't necessary get athletic grant and aid, but they got academic grant and aid and that's an important factor to know, because these universities and these colleges really want to get a student that is well-rounded."
The signers include cheerleaders Taylor Barrett who will attend Division II Grand Valley State University and Liz Ettinger who will attend Division III Alma College.
"There has been only a couple times where I've had one (cheerleader sign) in a season even at Rochester High when I was there," Watson said. "To have two going the same year is pretty remarkable."
Watson also said they are having a lot more athletes sign in Oxford's "emerging sports," like swimmer Haley Kornburger who will attend Division I Michigan State University, golfer Emily Cleland who will attend Division III Hope College and Madi Eschberger who will play lacrosse at NAIA Siena Heights University.
Baseball players Josh Arndt will attend Division II Wayne State University and P.J. Piesko will attend Division I Oakland University as a scholarship athlete.
Other athletic commitments came from runners Kristen Godwin who will do Cross country/track & field at Division III Hope College, Jacob Schenten will run cross country at Division I Oakland University and Joey Ufolla will run cross country NJCAA Oakland Community College.
Football scholarships include Owen Bachusz who will attend Division III Adrian College, Luke Champion will attend Division III Hope College, Noah Johnson will attend Division III Adrian College, Ben Line will attend FCS Division I Robert Morris (PA) University, Kyle Reason will attend Division III Hope College, Cody Roop, will attend FCS Division I Robert Morris (PA) University and Mitch Tilley, (Football) will attend Division II Lake Erie (OH) College.
For soccer, Chase Garavaglia will play at Division III Olivet College, Samantha Medici will attend Division II Northwood (MI) University and Travis Simat, will play at Division II Tiffin (OH) University. Darien Bandel will play volleyball as a Grizzly at Division I Oakland University.
Three Wildcat Wrestlers moving on the next level include: Wesley Maskill, who will attend Division I Michigan State University as a scholarship athlete, Zeb Throne who will attend Division III Thiel (PA) College and Zach Wood who will wrestle for Division II Limestone (SC) College as a scholarship athlete.
While in-state schools are still the most popular for attendance, Watson said there is definitely a good number of students taking opportunities outside of Michigan as well. He also noted that Oxford is getting a lot more attention from Division III schools both in and outside of the state.
"As we've gotten higher in enrollment, certainly the Division III (schools) like Alma and Hope College and some of those are really paying attention because they can get that level kid (they want) at a school like we've become," he said.
Watson looks to the current group of college athletic signers to being a model and voice to underclassmen.
"Getting a quality education that is affordable for families is still paramount and can be accomplished through participation in athletics," he said. "These athletes, who signed this year, are a tremendous example of what can be accomplished from kids, right here in our own community."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.