National Signing Day hits Park City
Crowded around a table that was much too small, nine Park City High School athletes signed letters of intent to continue their careers in college.
Ben Saarel highlighted a strong contingent of six track athletes signing for scholarships, shattering the previous PCHS high of three runners in one year.
Track coach Jeff Wyant said a class like this year’s group of seniors was special.
"You just don’t get kids like this very often, let alone in the same year," he said.
Saarel, who signed with the University of Colorado, also won the Utah Gatorade Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year award, becoming the first male athlete at PCHS to claim such an honor.
"We kind of expected that from Ben," Wyant said. "There wasn’t really an argument for anyone else."
Saarel is the reigning cross-country 3A state champion, having won state three times in a row.
Joining him at the signing-day table from the track team were Ali Walker (Wyoming), Emily Schmitt (Utah Valley), Megan Glasmann (Stanford), Annie Orr (Utah State), and Colter Merritt (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University).
"At the start of this year, we had six seniors we thought might be capable of competing in college," Wyant said. "We never dreamed all six were going to get scholarships. How cool is it for them to not have to pay for college?"
Justin Shluker, who has been a part of the last four state champion golf teams and was the state medalist the last two years, signed with Sonoma State in Rohnert Park, Calif., citing coach Val Verhunce’s influence as a major factor in his decision.
"The coach did a lot for me," he said. "He seems to have a really structured program and that’s what I was looking for."
Garrett Bullough will continue his soccer career at Division II powerhouse Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and Cassidy Chester will move on to Dawson College in Glendive, Mont., to play softball.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.