Hard work and dedication rewarded

Senior athletes who are committed to play college athletics make it official


Melanie Delestrez

Time to shine: Seniors Baylor Thomas, Cordelia Wilcox, Tyler Fouts, and Camille Jentzsch sign their letters of intent to play college athletics. Fellow students, teachers, coaches, and family members sat in the stands as they supported the athletes. “I’m glad I finally found a place that I could go to,” senior Jaden Cardona.

November 10, 2021 was a special day for many student athletes. Senior athletes who plan to compete for NCAA (National College Athletics Association), NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), or NJCAA (National Junior College Athletics Association), had the ability to sign their written commitment and are one step closer to pursuing a college career.

Six seniors at Lake Stevens High School were a part of the many student athletes who signed on November 10 in the gym at Lake Stevens. Their respected athletics range from basketball, wrestling, swimming/diving, track and field, and cross country.

Senior Ashley Reeck, a cross country and track and field runner, will compete in both cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and field for Western Washington University.

Making the decision to compete at the collegiate level can cause any student athlete to question if this is the best path for them and their future.

“I was definitely nervous for a little bit. You think, ‘Oh, am I making the right choice?’ But that went away pretty quick, so I just got really excited the more I started getting into it. Thinking ‘Oh, I actually am really excited to run here,’ so I’m glad I ended up doing it,” Reeck said.

When it’s time to sit down and ask, which place is best fit for me? Pros and cons tend to get into the mindset, and pressures of choosing correctly weigh in.

“I expected it to be like a big hassle, but the coaches at Western were in really good contact with me the whole time, and were able to walk me through and answer any questions that I did have. I feel like if the coaches were not as good about that, then it would have been a lot more difficult. And then also I have a family who’s gone through this with their daughter, so having people there to guide me through it was a lot easier,” Reeck said.

While her senior year of cross country has ended, she was able to compete at state for the girls program at Lake Stevens. This spring, Reeck will compete in the mid-distance events for track and field before she heads off to compete for the Vikings at Western Washington University. The girls basketball program at Lake Stevens has produced many college athletes, and this year, the program will have three more going onto the next level.

Baylor Thomas, a senior at Lake Stevens, began her varsity athletics as a freshman playing for the girls basketball program. She has the ability to create shots and opportunities for not only herself but her teammates, lockdown defender, and coming into her senior year, she has filled the role as the leader of the program. With these abilities and great energy, Baylor will continue basketball and her education at West Virginia State University.

Senior Cordelia Wilcox has competed as a varsity player in the girls basketball program since freshman year. As she begins her final year of high school hoops, her game has improved tremendously, not being afraid to dive on the floor for a loose ball, finishing through contact, and always being an honest and effort driven teammate. After high school, she will continue her basketball and education at Eastern Washington University.

Camille Jentzsch, a senior, has also been a part of the girls basketball program since freshman year. She’s a hard working athlete on and off the court, dominating the rebound stats, pushing through hard fouls or unnecessary contact and always with a positive energy and attitude. To continue her passion for basketball, Jentzsch officially signed to play at the University of Eastern Washington.

Lake Stevens has dominated wrestling at state for the past decade, and one of their wrestlers has the chance to bring his talents to the college level.

Tyler Fouts, a senior on the boys wrestling team, will continue to wrestle and pursue his education at Briar Cliff University, a NAIA program in Sioux City, Iowa.

“I went on a visit there, and I really enjoyed all the guys on the team. I feel like they got something special going on down there, and I want to be a part of it,” Fouts said.

No student athlete is the same, which results in different lengths of the recruitment and commitment process. There’s always a new story or perspective when it comes to a major choice or decision like commiting.

“It’s hard at first, just waiting for you to really get recruited, but once a couple of schools started talking to me, then I had more talking to me and then I started scheduled visits. So it wasn’t hard, but it was just a lot of waiting,” Fouts said.

Sophomore year of high school, Fouts competed at state for wrestling, and received fourth place. Coming into this year as a senior, he believes the team will win a state title, and that’s his main goal before heading to Briar Cliff University.

Diving is one sport that requires early days or late nights, high strength, flexibility and endurance to complete a series of perfect and clear acrobatic dives for judges to see.

Jaden Cardona, a senior on the boys swimming and diving team, officially signed to the University of South Dakota, a D1 college program.

“When I started the recruitment process, I just emailed a bunch of schools hoping that at least two would get back to me. The University of South Dakota was one of them. And at the beginning of last month, I went to tour the school. See how I would fit there, and I loved it there. It has everything I need,” Cardona said.

As a freshman, Jaden placed 11th at state, while sophomore year he placed fifth at state for diving. Because high school athletics did not provide state qualifiers or championships last year due to COVID, senior year will bring back the redemption and excitement for state.

“One goal I want to accomplish is just to get better dives, because as of right now, I have a really good list for college diving, but to get a bigger one that’d be great,” Cardona said.

As Cardona heads into his senior year of competition, he will have the ability to expand or introduce new diving records on that list and the chance to compete one last time at state.

As a community, we wish these six seniors the best of luck throughout senior year and into college.