Prep notebook: Park Hill’s Wilson commits to Iowa State

Johnny Wilson picked his next stop months before his final football season started.

Park Hill’s Johnny Wilson

Park Hill’s Johnny Wilson

The Park Hill senior announced he will play at Iowa State next year, making him the latest in a long line of Trojans headed to the Division I ranks.

A three-star recruit on Rivals, Wilson is a 6-foot-3, 250 pound defensive end that had plenty of interest from big-name programs. He cut his list of seven offers down to three in June, deciding between Missouri, Kansas or Iowa State. 

He also had offers from Eastern Illinois, Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska. Kansas State, Northern Illinois and Northwestern were also mentioned to have interest in the all-stater.

He visited Missouri and Iowa State twice and had one stop at Iowa. Iowa State offered Wilson a scholarship after his freshman year.

The website,, lists Wilson as the 17th best recruit in Missouri in the 2020 class.

“It is exciting, I’m just humbled about it,” Wilson said. “I try to keep a level head. I know I’m blessed.”

Iowa State wide receiver coach Nate Scheelhaase — a Rockhurst High School graduate — and defensive line coach Eli Rasheed helped recruit Wilson to Ames.

“They recruited for me for four years, all the others waited until the sophomore season to offer me. They saw something in me,” said Wilson, whose dad played football at Coffeyville Community College and later Missouri Western. “My relationships have grown with coach (Matt) Campbell, Coach Nate and Coach Sheed (Rasheed). Nate and I were close; he was the first guy that really started recruiting me the most.”

Kohler picks basketball

Shayla Kohler had plenty of options when it came to figuring out where to go to college.

The Platte County graduate also had plenty of options when it came to playing sports at the next level from throwing discus for a track and field team, rowing, softball and even basketball.

For years she thought college softball was going to be the route she was going to go, but never found the right fit.

Then, Pittsburg State offered the 6-foot-2 center a chance to play basketball at the Division II level.

“I knew right away when given the opportunity to play at Pitt, it was the perfect fit and the right place for me to go and still compete,” Kohler said. “And get a great education, which was very important to me.”

She is one of four newcomers to the Gorillas, three that are 6-feet or taller. At 6-2, Kohler is tied for the tallest player on the roster for coach Amanda Davied, who is entering her second year at the helm. Pitt State was 21-9 last year and made the Division II playoffs.

Platte County’s Shayla Kohler

Platte County’s Shayla Kohler

Kohler looked at a variety of schools, like Kansas State, Grand View, Northwest Missouri State, Missouri State and Ottawa, before picking the Pittsburg, Kan. school. 

Kohler wasn’t sure she could play basketball at the next level, but talked with former Platte County coach Chris Stubbs and then assistant and now head coach Becca Strobbe if they thought she could make play in college. They worked with her and helped her land at Pitt State.

“I started really to enjoy playing the sport and I didn’t think I was ready to be done after just one more season,” said Kohler, who will be an elementary education major.

Kohler said there were a number of reasons that led her to becoming a Gorilla. The ‘college town’ feel was one, while the coaching staff and current players on the roster welcomed her when she visited the school.

“I knew it was special and it was going to be hard to find somewhere else,” she said. “I knew that it was special as soon as I left my visit. I knew Pitt was the perfect fit for me.” 

Two moving on

The Park Hill golf team will have two big voids to fill in the spring with the departure of Ryan Graves and Joey Keeth.

Both former Trojans are preparing for the start of their first year as college golfers.

Graves and Keeth are both playing golf in Kansas this year, with Graves at Baker in Baldwin City and Keeth landed at Sterling College in Sterling, Kan. 

Graves won the Suburban Conference Gold Division title this season and later earned his third trip to the state meet. A three-sport athlete also starred for the football and basketball team.

“I picked golf because it is what I enjoy doing the most,” he said. “Many football coaches showed a lot of interest in me, but I think I did a good job of letting them know I wanted to play golf at the next level.”

He chose Baker, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, due to the proximity, the business school and coach Andy Kelley. 

“I had some options, but I felt Baker was the best fit,” Graves said. 

Keeth is one of five newcomers to the roster for Sterling, which is the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

He originally committed to Division II Upper Iowa but changed his mind later this spring.

“Golf wise, I felt like I was closer with the coach (Tanner George) and I felt like he would be able to help me improve the most in my four years at school,” Keeth said of the school that is 3 ½ hours away from his hometown of Kansas City.

Lutgen travels abroad

Park Hill South product Erika Lutgen was selected to take part in the Italian Softball Series sponsored by the United States America Athletic International.

Erika Lutgen

Erika Lutgen

The USAAI started in 1992 and allowed baseball players to face teams from overseas, but now has expanded to softball.

Lutgen is one of four Missouri Southern players that were chosen for the trip that began on July 29 and ended on Aug. 7. While also playing in the softball series, the group of players toured Venice, Rome, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Coliseum.

“I thought about not going to Italy for only a moment, as meeting new people in a new place you’re unfamiliar with can be scary,” Lutgen said in a press release issued by MSSU. “However, the difficulty or obstacle turned into excitement in a split second. I get to play the sport I love in a beautiful place and honestly, I can’t think of anything better than that. I’m excited to learn from the other countries and cultures I’ll encounter while with three of my MSSU teammates, which will allow us to grow closer and learn together.”

Recently she was honored by getting named to the Easton/NFCA All-American Scholar-Athlete list.

Lutgen was one of 11 Lions that made the team, each had to have a 3.5 GPA or higher over the course of the 2018-19 school year. The softball team, as a whole, had a 3.457 GPA during the school year and a cumulative GPA of 3.57.


Park Hill South’s Dylan Hufft, right, took part in the PBR Futures Game in Atlanta recently.

Park Hill South’s Dylan Hufft, right, took part in the PBR Futures Game in Atlanta recently.

Incoming Park Hill freshman Jordan River was the AAU national champion winning the 14 year old boys division with a throw of 145-feet, 9-inches, which set a personal record. … Braylon Gates, a member of the Pirate Track Club, took second in the 9-10 year old javelin and was eighth in the 9-10 shot put to earn all-American honors at the USTAF Junior Olympics meet in July. … former Park Hill South product Collin Brougham was named to the NJCAA Academic All-American first team after his first season at Crowder College thanks to a 4.0 GPA. He was also named to the second-team All-Region 16 team for his performance on the field. … North Platte won the LeBlond 6-hour relay earlier this summer, repeating as champions. … North Platte’s Maddie O’Neill qualified to the AAU National meet in the 400, the event she won the state title in this spring. … On July 18, Park Hill South held its first-ever football mom’s camp, which allowed them to train in the position their sons play. … Park Hill’s Caleia Johnson was seventh at the AAU Nationals in the 200-meter dash …. Park Hill volleyball standout Kristen Birmingham was named to the Prep Volleyball All-American team and her KC Power 16 squad — which also features Platte County’s Bryn McGehe — finished third in the USA Volleyball 16 National Division. … Park Hill South’s Dylan Hufft was invited to play for Team Missouri in the PBR Futures Game earlier this month in Atlanta in front of more than 350 scouts from colleges and the pro ranks. The junior infielder had the fastest velocity of any infielder with a throw at 90 miles per hour. He also ran a 7.03 second 60-yard dash and had a 4.43 second dash from home to first. He plays for Building Champions in the summer. … Platte County graduate Parker Lacina recently was awarded a scholarship prior to the start of his sophomore season at Missouri State, where he was the starting kicker last year.