Two Park Hill athletes decided to continue their athletic careers at the Division I level.
Football teammates Ethan Smith and Kolby Heinerikson held a joint ceremony at the high school. Smith will continue playing on the gridiron at Air Force, while Heinerikson will go to Nebraska for track and field.
Heinerikson has long been a multi-sport athlete and he will take that up a notch next year in Lincoln, Neb.
The Park Hill senior signed last month to compete for the Cornhuskers track and field program and will be a decathlon specialist, while also focusing on javelin and other events.
Being well-rounded is nothing new for the Trojan who has done hurdles, javelin, pole vault and the 110- and 200-meter hurdles. He has earned all-state honors three times in javelin in high school.
In college, he will compete in the 100 dash, 110 hurdles, 400 dash, 1,500 run, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, javelin and pole vault.
In the summer, while competing for Pure Talent Elite, he did that in New Mexico, North Carolina and Indiana.
Heinerikson had offers to go to North Dakota State, Colorado State and Missouri Southern, but felt Nebraska was the best fit and not just because it was a Division I school.
“It was important for me to be challenged,” he said.
Heinerikson, a punter and defensive back for the football team, thought about playing that sport at the next level but said, “I enjoy track more and I’m better at it.”
While waiting for the high school season to start in the spring, he is scheduled to compete at various indoor meets.
Smith, meanwhile, considered football programs at Kent State, South Dakota State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Illinois.
“Before I even visited Air Force, every coach on the staff texted me,” Smith said. “My first visit up there, it just felt like home and I just felt really good about it. The way it’s going to set me up for the rest of my life was also huge for me.”
Smith, a defensive end, missed most of his senior season due to a shoulder injury.
“I just knew I couldn’t (play with the injury) every game,” Smith said. “I had to make the choice and not play anymore and that was very hard for me. But it didn’t really affect my recruiting all that much because I had my mind set on Air Force before the season. I’m just thankful they are still giving me a scholarship.”
As a junior, Smith made 58 total tackles in nine games played, seventh best on the team that went 10-3.
He was second on the team with six sacks. In his lone game as a senior, Smith had four tackles.