KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tables lined up Nov. 24 at Park Hill High School made the gymnasium look like a college fair.
In front of a large group of students, eight different senior athletes were honored during a ceremony to celebrate the recent signing of national letters of intent. Five of the Trojans signed on to play at the NCAA Division I level, and three more will go on to play in Division II’s Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association — two at the University of Central Missouri and one at Northwest Missouri State University.
In all, five sports were represented at the eight tables.
Landry Shamet (Wichita State), Louis Reinmiller (Central Missouri) and Riana Everidge (Nevada) all play basketball, while Colton DiBlasi (Iowa State) and Ke-Shawn Hayes (Ohio State) return for the upcoming wrestling season. There was also Veronique Johnson (softball, Illinois State) softball, Kyle Francis (baseball, Central Missouri) and Olivia Nowakowski (volleyball, Northwest).
“It feels good knowing I’ve gone to school with these people for four years,” Shamet said. “I’ve gotten to know them all. Obviously, I’ve signed already (Nov. 15 to meet the early signing period deadline of Nov. 19.) but for my friends to be here to celebrate it, it means a lot.”
Shamet helped Park Hill end its long basketball playoff drought a year ago averaging 20.3 points per game to vault further up in the national recruiting scene. The breakout offensive numbers helped land the 6-foot 4-inch guard/forward at the Missouri Valley Conference school — a 2013 Final Four participant — while spurning offers from Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska and Memphis among others.
Reinmiller, a 6-3 guard, added 9.3 points per contest last year for the Trojans to draw the attention of the Mules, the 2014 NCAA Division II champions. The duo helped Park Hill win the Class 5 District 15 championship last season, ending a two-decade playoff drought for the Trojans.
Everidge, a transfer from St. Pius X, averaged 9.8 points per game as a sophomore for the Warriors. After sitting out a year due to Missouri State High School Activities Association transfer rules, Everidge should heavily feature in the Trojans attack this season after finishing 10-16 a year ago.
Johnson, Park Hill’s ace pitcher, will join Illinois State, which posted a 25-28 record last year competing in the Missouri Valley Conference.
DiBlasi and Hayes will join Division I powerhouse wrestling programs after their senior campaigns. Both are three-time Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships medalists and enter thse season as two-time defending individual champions. Park Hill won the Class 4 team title last year behind their effort.
Diblasi won each of his titles at 152 pounds, while Hayes claimed the championship in the 113-pound bracket as a sophomore and at 126 last year. He went 51-0 last season and earned various national rankings for his accomplishments. Hayes looks forward to working with Ohio State assistant Logan Stieber, who graduated last year after winning his third NCAA championship for the Buckeyes.
“When you compete, that’s how you get better,” Hayes said of his choice to attend Ohio State, sixth at last year’s NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. “You want to beat everyone you wrestle against, and I look forward to going against him every day. As soon as I try to get in there, I’m going to be trying to beat him.”
Nowakowski joins Northwest after earning Mo-Kan Volleyball Coaches Association All-Star Match earlier this month. A two-year starter as the defensive specialist, she set a school record for digs in a season (498) as the libero this season, earning team MVP honors.
Francis joins Central Missouri’s Division II powerhouse baseball team. The Mules have 16 trips to the Division II College World Series, winning it all twice, the last in 2003.