Eight local seniors have recently committed to furthering their academic and athletic careers next year. Those students are as follows:
Kenai Central's Lierin Flanagan will run for Montana State University, an NCAA Division I program.
"I'm just so excited," she said. "I'm just so proud of myself. That's been my goal since I started running."
In the 400-meter dash preliminary race at the 2010 Kenai Peninsula Borough Track Meet on Friday, Flanagan ran a 56.84, beating the current state record of 57.14 set by Bartlett's Andrea Crook in 2006. However, state records can only be set at state meets.
"The state of Alaska does not see times in the 56s," Kenai track coach Tim Sandahl said. "That is just rare."
Flanagan was part of last year's state record-setting 1,600 relay team.
Soldotna High School's Nathan Strieby will play football for Chadron State College, an NCAA Division II program. The head coach saw Strieby play at a football camp he attends at Colony High School. Strieby has always wanted to play at the collegiate level.
"I can't wait to get to that next level and play at a higher rate than high school," he said. "I can't wait for the fall. I've always wanted to move on and play at the college level."
Though not sure exactly what position he'll play, Strieby said he expects to be an offensive lineman. Strieby said he enjoys football because it's a team sport and a complex game.
"It's not just one simple thing," he said. "As a lineman you have to be intelligent and have to be able to learn all the aspects of football."
Strieby said he plans on following the pre-medical track at college and wants to study orthopedics in medical school.
SoHi's Jeff Mullen is leaving one peninsula for another. He will play soccer at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Wash., next year. Mullen said he plans and using the junior college as a steppingstone to a four-year school where he hopes to also play soccer.
Mullen toured the school last summer with the Alaska North Stars team he plays on. He said he's looking forward to the change.
"I'm excited to see what it's gonna be like," he said. "It's been my goal to play college soccer for a long time."
Mullen said he should be fine making the transition to the collegiate level. Mullen said he anticipates he'll play center midfield next year.
SoHi's Karen Senette has been accepted to Judson University in Elgin, Ill., about an hour outside of Chicago. She has yet to sign a letter of intent but expects to do so in the very near future. Judson has a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II women's basketball program.
Senette plays a tournament in Elgin every summer with her travel squad, Team Alaska. It was that team, which focuses on giving teammates a chance to be seen by college coaches, that gave Senette the necessary exposure needed to play college ball.
"I wouldn't have this scholarship at all without traveling," she said.
Coming from Alaska, Senette said she knows she'll be up against tough competition next year.
"I definitely think it's going to be a really big step," she said. "It's really eye-opening to go play teams in the Lower 48. I know it's going to be tough, but I've prepared a lot."
Receiving a college scholarship to play basketball has been a goal of Senette's since she started playing, she said.
"It feels awesome," Senette said. "I've accomplished one of my goals. It's good to know now that high school is over I'm not done playing basketball."
Getting a sports scholarship was no easy task, Senette said.
"People aren't just knocking at your door," she said.
Senette is undecided on a major but said she can see herself coaching one day. Senette said she wants to be involved with basketball at some level.
SoHi's Boomer Blossom will take the floor as a member of the University of Alaska Anchorage men's basketball team next year. UAA is an NCAA Division II program.
Blossom said his father talked to the school on his behalf. The coaching staff then watched Blossom play, and liked what they saw. He said he recently toured the school and played with the team.
"I definitely wanted to play (college basketball)," he said. "I'd miss it too much if I didn't play."
Blossom said he's looking forward to making the jump to the collegiate level.
"It should be a fun challenge," he said. "It's a next chapter in my basketball career."
Success on the court next year will take commitment, Blossom said.
"If I put in the time and the hard work, it will pay off in the end," he said.
Blossom said he wants to become a fireman or go into the criminal justice field.
SoHi's Josh Harvey will play lacrosse next year at Western Oregon University, a Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division II program.
Lacrosse is a mix of hockey and soccer, said Harvey, who plays both. He started playing lacrosse his freshman year on SoHi's club team. Immediately, Harvey knew he found the sport for him.
After his first year playing the sport, Harvey said, "This fits me. I can go somewhere with this."
Harvey said the game will be much faster and more intense at the college level.
"It's a pretty big step," he said.
But Harvey said he's ready for the challenge.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Harvey said he plans on following the pre-med track at school.
Kenai's Billy Kiefer will run track for UAA's NCAA Division II program next year.
"I'm excited," he said. "They have a great track program."
Kiefer said he's always wanted to pursue his sports career at the college level. He said UAA was the best fit for him to do that.
Kiefer currently holds the school record in the 1,600.
Skyview's Ivy O'Guinn will run for the Seawolves next year.
"She's not hard to coach," said Skyview's distance coach Ted McKenney. "She has a good work ethic, a tremendous attitude and she's a very gifted runner."
"She's having a great senior year," Skyview head track coach Rob Sparks said.
O'Guinn is the reigning 800 state champion. She finished second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600 last year at state.
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