By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — Seven Beavercreek High School student athletes announced their intent to attend their respective colleges and universities, Wednesday, on the early period National Letter of Intent Signing day, in the school’s gymnasium.
Jade Delaney (gymnastics, Georgetown (Ky.) College), Ben Ewert (cross country/track & field, University of Louisville), Jordan Grant (cross country/track & field, Miami University), Matthew Gregson (cross country/track & field, Northern Kentucky University), Matthew Riekens (track & field, U.S. Military Academy, West Point), Brittany-Ann O’Connell (bowling, Maryland Eastern Shore) and Sarah Sperber (swimming, The Ohio State University) were each recognized during the after-school ceremony in the school’s gymnasium.
The first day for prospective student athletes to sign for the 2017-‘18 college sports seasons was Wednesday for basketball, and most other sports, with the exception of football, soccer and men’s water polo. This early signing period will run through Nov. 16, then the regular signing period will take place beginning April 12, 2017.
Beavercreek cross country coach Howard Russ and track & field coach James Weckesser were busy with introductions to the roughly 100 family members and students in attendance. Four of the seven athletes — Ewert, Grant, Gregson and Riekens — were involved in either cross country, track & field or both at BHS.
Russ credited Ewert with putting the cross country program “over the top” in state competitions.
“Yes, he’s been four times to state in cross country. And yes, he’s been all-state numerous times. But for me, it’s very rare when an athlete changes the culture of a program,” Russ said. “We were always really good, and always district champs. But we’d get to regionals and just couldn’t get to that next level of being one of the best teams in the state.
“When Ben came along, yes he was really fast and he helped our team score, but it was his mentality that really bonded the team together. As a young freshman, he was the person who made the team believe that we could make it to the state meet. … To change the culture and take this program to where it’s now one of the best in the state, that’s something I will always thank Ben for.”
Weckesser said Rieken will compete in the decathlon while at West Point.
“Like most of these athletes, Matt started out real small and scrawny, but he too developed into a great athlete,” Weckesser said. “Matt’s a track nerd. He loves track, he’s a hard worker, and he gets great grades. I know he just took his physical fitness test for the Army and he received very high marks.
“It’s mind boggling to think that he’ll be doing 10 events almost every weekend, but he’s a guy who works hard and has a great family. His parents are very supportive, too. They probably helped our program more than we’ve helped Matt. We thank you for your dedication and hard work.”
Several parents thanked the BHS coaches, Athletic Director Brad Pompos and the school’s staff for helping them with the recruiting process.
“Like everyone else, I’d like to say thank you to coach Russ and coach Weckesser and everyone who was involved. It’s been an exciting journey, and it’s gone way too fast,” Gregson’s mom, Jennifer Schmidt said. “It’s a dream come true to have Matt here at Beavercreek signing this today, and making this decision. He’s been through a lot of obstacles, so I know it’s a dream come true for him and for us.”
Gregson will compete in both cross country, and track & field, at Northern Kentucky University.
Gymnastics coaches and the entire team from the Gymquest Sports Academy gathered for a group photo for Delaney’s signing to Georgetown (Ky.) College.
Sperber will sign with The Ohio State University’s swimming team, but she was not on hand for the signing ceremony.
O’Connell nearly missed the signing ceremony. She learned roughly 20 minutes before school had let out that Maryland Eastern Shore’s powerhouse women’s bowling team had made her a signing offer.