With the pandemic still shutting down high school sports in the state, it’s good to find a little normalcy.
Wednesday was signing day across the country, and while it might not be how this group of seniors envisioned it – surrounded by friends, family and classmates – several in the area held socially distanced ceremonies to sign their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
Head of the class
Mt. Spokane basketball star Tyson Degenhart has known his college destination for several years, but that didn’t make his excitement on signing day any less.
“It feels great,” he said in a small ceremony in his family’s front room in Colbert. “You know, it’s been a long time since I committed and it finally it feels good to put the pen to the paper and make it official.”
The reigning Greater Spokane League MVP and all-state forward is headed to Boise State, one of several prospects the Broncos hope will propel them to basketball significance.
His college coaches, future teammates, many high school teammates and family members were some of 50 or so watching Degenhart sign via Zoom.
“Tyson is a very versatile, high-motor guy with a ton of skill and toughness,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said in a statement. “He has a very mature game that will translate to this level and give him an opportunity to make a significant impact as a Bronco.”
The 6-foot-7 senior said Boise State’s up-tempo style made the Broncos attractive – so much so that after one camp and his official visit, he committed. He didn’t visit another school.
“It really felt like a family when I was down there,” he said. “I connected with the coaches really well. I had a prior relationship with Coach Rice’s son Kade and … it feels nice to know people when I’m going down there and to know who I’m going to play with.”
As with everyone else in the state, Degenhart hopes to get his senior season in before heading to Boise, but signing his letter of intent makes waiting out the pandemic less stressful.
“It’s definitely easier,” he said. “I really want to play … I would love to get one last chance to go out on the court and try to win a state title.”
After playing in the State 3A title game as a sophomore in 2019, Mt. Spokane fell to Eastside Catholic in a first-round game earlier this year.
“We have some unfinished business,” he said.
“We did not have our best performance last year at state and we need to redeem ourselves for that.”
Degenhart was one of the “Big 3” in Washington to sign Wednesday, along with Battle Ground’s Kaden Perry (Gonzaga) and O’Dea’s Paolo Banchero (Duke).
Degenhart said it’s “an honor” to be mentioned with the others.
“You know, I’ve been overlooked a bit because I’ve been on the east side of the state in Spokane, but it was nice to be honored along those guys. They’re two great players. I played against them a little bit this summer and they’re just really good players and they’re going to succeed at Duke and at Gonzaga, so I wish them the best of luck in their future.”
Jumping to Texas
As a sophomore, Ferris’ Cole Omlin wasn’t happy with his high jump mark of 6 feet, 6 inches – which was still good enough to win a State 4A title. He was aiming for school records last season in the high, long and triple jumps before the pandemic wiped out spring sports.
None of that will keep him from pursuing his career at the next level, as the three-jump star signed with Texas Tech, the NCAA men’s track and field champions in 2019.
“It’s been a dream for a very long time and just to have it come to fruition is a great deal,” he said during a small ceremony in his family’s South Hill driveway.
Omlin is psyched to join the nationally ranked Red Raiders program.
“I mean, reigning national champions is obviously a big draw for things, but the culture was just different,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we don’t get around here in Spokane that I loved, and the coaching – I mean (jumps) coach (James) Thomas is amazing. He’s one of the best in the nation.”
Lubbock, Texas, is a long way from the South Hill, though.
“It was where I wanted to be, for sure,” Omlin said. “It’ll be different. I can’t say I won’t mind the weather, I won’t miss the weather here, either. But yeah, I’m ready to go. I mean, it’s moving on to the next phase of my life.”
Cole’s father, Bob Omlin, coached track and field at Whitworth and Eastern Washington. The experience of college athletics is a little different from the parents’ side.
“Very much so,” he said. “As a parent with your children in any form of athletics, it’s always super exciting that they have the opportunity to continue the adventure of completing in college.
“It’s an incredible setup (at Texas Tech) and I’m really excited to see what his future holds for him there. They make amazing jumpers and amazing young athletes.”
Running toward the future
North Central’s Allie Janke will graduate in the spring as one of the most decorated long-distance runners in Spokane’s illustrious prep history, despite losing her junior track season to the pandemic last spring.
She’s a two-time cross country state champion, two-time 1,600-meter champ, owns a first and second in the 3,200 and a second in the 4x400, and is the State 3A record-holder in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Imagine what the senior could do if she gets the chance to race this year.
Janke is headed to the University of Arkansas to join the No. 1-ranked cross country and track teams.
She, along with other athletes at NC, will be participating in a signing ceremony at the high school Thursday.
Other notable signings: Central Valley: Rebekah Ross, Brigham Young (track and field); Kami Twining, Eastern Washington (golf).
Gonzaga Prep: Jacyn Bamis, Clemson (volleyball); Maddie Davies, Univ. of Northern Colorado (volleyball); Tommy Kimmel, UNLV (golf); Callah Preti, St. Mary’s University (San Antonio) (tennis).
Mead: Elijah Hainline, Washington State (baseball).
Mt. Spokane: Jeter Schuerman, Community Colleges of Spokane (baseball).
Shadle Park: Izzy Boring, Corbin (basketball); David Dawson, CCS (baseball); Ethan Pugh, Yakima Valley (baseball).
Clarkston: Ashlyn Wallace, Idaho (basketball).
Deer Park: Hannah Carnahan, North Idaho (soccer).
Coeur d’Alene: Angela Goggins, Saint Leo (volleyball); Lauren Phillips, Point Loma Nazarene (volleyball); Sarah Wilkey, Fort Lewis College (volleyball); Drew Roberts, Minnesota (wrestling); Alex Karns, Wenatchee Valley (baseball); Liam Paddack, CCS (baseball).
Lake City: Abby Jankay, Coastal Carolina (softball).
Post Falls: Cassidy Olsen, Grace Christian (cross country).
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