In all, 13 seniors made their national letters of intent official in what’s become an annual tradition known simply as signing day. Football often serves as the big draw, but for the Panthers, Anna Courtney (Kansas) and Shay Jackson (Florida Gulf Coast) helped the soccer team take priority this year.
Park Hill South went 12-11-1 in 2014 and finished as runner-up in Class 3 District 15 to St. Teresa’s, which went on to finish as state runner-up.
A midfielder, Courtney opted to stay close to home after raking in postseason honors following the 2014 season. She made the first team for All-KC Metro and All-Suburban League Red Division and earned an honorable mention spot on the Missouri Soccer Coaches Association’ Class 3 all-state team after tallying a team-high 11 assists.
“I’ve been working my whole life toward playing college soccer,” Courtney said. “The fact that I accomplished my goal and playing D-I at a really big school that I love, it means a lot to me.”
Shay Jackson signed with Atlantic Sun Conference member Florida Gulf Coast, located in Fort Myers, Fla. The Eagles won the league last year and lost in the first round of the NCAA Championships to Auburn this past fall.
Originally, Park Hill South’s standout forward verbally committed to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock but later changed her mind.
“I committed really early,” said Jackson, who scored a team-high 23 goals to go with nine assists last season. “And then I decided that it wasn’t the school for me. It got really stressful at that point — going through decommitting. Once I decommitted and found (Florida Gulf Coast), I was really happy and really glad I did it. Even though it was stressful, it was totally worth it because now I’m somewhere I love.”
Park Hill South forward Dylan Kintner also signed to play soccer collegiately after leading the boys’ team in goals this fall. He will play at Division II Fort Hays State, a member of the MIAA, after helping the Panthers to a Class 4 District 15 crown this past fall.
A second-team MSHSSCA all-state pick, Kintner led Park Hill South with with 25 goals.
Of Park Hill South’s six signees for baseball, only one didn’t pick a junior college.
Eli Patterson joins MIAA member Lindenwood (Mo.), located in St. Charles, as a pitcher. John Chacon (Elsworth Community College), Easton Fortuna and Jake Purl (Kansas City Kansas Community College), Richard Fullerton (Dodge City Community College), and Andrew Richards (Maple Woods Community College) rounded out the list of signees.
The six seniors helped the Panthers to an 18-11 record and a runner-up finish in Class 5 District 16 last year as juniors.
Riley Lane (Lamar Community College) and Alyx Hagen (Iowa Western Community College) signed to play softball after helping Park Hill South reach the state playoffs for the first time in school history this past fall, a trip that ended with a loss in Class 4 sectionals to Liberty North.
A first-team All-Suburban League Red Division infielder, Hagen finished second for the Panthers in hits with 36, including a team-high 13 doubles. Lane had 23 hits and committed just two errors in 27 games behind the plate. She earned second-team all-league honors.
Park Hill South also had a pair of football players sign to play in college — quarterback Schaefer Schuetz and tight end Tanner McClaran, who both signed to play at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.
Schuetz completed more than 60 percent of his passes and was named to the Suburban League Red Division first team despite a 3-7 season for the Panthers. He amassed 1,986 yards through the air with 19 touchdowns.
McClaran hauled in five of the scoring passes and set school records for receptions and yards in a season — 51 and 671 respectively. He earned a spot on the Missouri Football Coaches Association’s all-state third team as a tight end.