By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — FULTON, Ill. — Four seniors from Fulton High School will go on to play college athletics next fall, with all four of them staying within a 3-hour traveling distance.
Only Matt Dail, who is going to Trinity Christian College in Illinois to play basketball and golf, had an actual signing. The other three — Bryce Holesinger, Devin Kuehl and Jenna Jones — signed their official letters of intent earlier this winter.
Holesinger signed with NCAA Division II Lewis University in Illinois for men’s track, Kuehl signed to play football at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville and Jones is going to play softball at Lakeland (Ill.) Community College.
Dail knew what he wanted to look for in an athletic program — one that would allow him to be a multi-sport athlete.
“I did not want to choose between having to play golf and basketball,” Dail said. “I wanted to go somewhere where they will let me finish the golf season and head into basketball from there.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I love playing both sports and it’s awesome I’m going somewhere where they will let me.”
Trinity Christian College is in Palos Heights, Ill., just 23 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. The school is NAIA Division II, the same athletic classification that Ashford University is in.
Dail said getting a scholarship from the school was what drew him in.
“Getting money to play basketball golf and for my grades, and it’s a Christian school, so those were all big factors,” he said.
Dennis Harms, Trinity’s golf coach, and assistant basketball coach Trey Clarkson were on hand to congratulate Dail on his signing, and they both echoed the same sentiment — great kid with a great attitude.
“I just really get the idea that he is a hard worker, and is a great communicator,” Harms said. “We don’t feel that being a two-sport athlete is going to be a big challenge for him; we’ve had athletes who have golfed and played basketball before.”
“He’s a great kid, and that’s what we care about most is that he’s going to fit into our family well,” Clarkson said. “We feel we have a great dynamic, and we have a program that is going in the right direction, and Matt is going to fit in well.”
Meanwhile, Holesinger will be down the road to Dail at Lewis in Romeoville, which he says was a nice fit for him.
“One of my mentors, Brian Damhoff, told me to go check it out, and so I did, and they have an aviation and a good physics program that ties in with the Illinois Technological Institute. I’d be able to do a dual degree for physics and aerospace engineering on top of doing track, and I want to do the decathlon,” Holesinger said.
Holesinger points out it also alleviated pressure signing before the season track season started.
“It’s nice to be able to take the pressure off where you don’t have to be No. 1 necessarily; now it’s just me going after my own personal goals instead of forcefully going after them,” he said.
Jones is also close to her team starting the season as Illinois plays its baseball and softball seasons in the spring. She says there also was relief signing before the season lifted off in full bloom.
“It was a big weight off my shoulders and having it done,” Jones said. “I’m really excited for this season, and I think we’re (Fulton) going to be very good.”
Jones selected Lakeland, located 51 miles south of Champaign, for its program history.
“They’ve been a top-five program in the nation, and if they can help me to get to the Division I level, it’s going to be great,” Jones said. “They’ve taken a lot of girls to that level, and that’s one of my biggest goals.”
Kuehl is the lone signee of the four not keeping his or her talents in state, but it’s not like Platteville, Wis., is a long haul, either. His main reason for becoming a Pioneer is his desire to play in the super-competitive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I’m really looking forward to that competitive edge,” Kuehl said. “I know about what Whitewater has done, and Platteville has done well, too, so I’m excited.”
Kuehl also appreciates how well the coaches have communicated with him throughout the recruiting process.
“They’ve been straightforward with me the whole time; I just like how they’re really honest, and they’re really nice,” he said.
Kuehl is aiming for a spot at running back or defensive back for UW-Platteville.