Grace Whitlaw and Rylee Marshall shared the same floor during the fall of 2015.
One volleyball standout was a Fort Calhoun senior, while the other was an up-and-coming Pioneers sophomore. On Oct. 12 of that year, they each hammered 14 kills in a win against Omaha Brownell-Talbot.
Four years later, Whitlaw and Marshall still dominated, but on separate college courts. They're two of 41 former Washington County high school athletes who've moved on to their fall sports at the next level. These athletes come from the Blair, Fort Calhoun and Arlington communities.
First up, Fort Calhoun.
Whitlaw earned two Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) weekly honors during her senior season at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. The 6-foot middle blocker had a team-high 149 blocks to go with 167 kills and 35 digs.
Marshall, meanwhile, earned a starting position as a University of Nebraska-Omaha sophomore. Though she has had to deal with a recent injury, the former Pioneer is still second on her 17-13 Mavs team with 79 blocks. She also has 62 kills and 25 digs.
Like Marshall, Taya Skelton competed in NCAA Division I athletics this fall. The freshman cross-country runner made her Nebraska Cornhuskers debut at the Augustana Twilight, finishing 39th.
The 2019 FCHS grad was again the sixth Husker to finish in the team's second event, the Greeno-Dirksen Invitational. Her low time for the season is 19:00.5.
Colton Folkers, meanwhile, set a new 8-kilometer personal best this fall. The Northwestern College sophomore runner was 25th in 28:10 at Mount Marty, and also competed in the Dordt Invite, SDSU Classic and the aforementioned Twilight.
Former Pioneers football player Hunter Thomas scored his first college touchdown for Bethel University (Minn.) this fall. The sophomore had nine carries for 97 years during the season, including one for the 63-yard touchdown against Augsburg.
Kyle Warthen, meanwhile, is a student assistant coach for the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats. That football team continues postseason play Saturday.
Riley Mitchell is in the midst of his first year of Doane University golf, while veteran Wayne State rugby player Lauren Nelson recently helped her team book another trip to the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) 15s Championships in Georgia. Her Wildcats beat St. Scholastica 125-22 to earn the spot.
Chloe Behrens is an Omaha Skutt graduate, but lists her hometown of Fort Calhoun on the Omaha Mavericks' soccer roster. She is a sophomore goalkeeper.
Bears excel at next level
Brothers Alec and Evan Wick signed with Doane University on the same day.
“We're good training partners,” Alec said in March 2017 at Blair High School.
“Year-round running,” Evan added.
Today, they've become integral members of the Tigers' cross-country team. Alec earned the GPAC championship recently, finishing his race in 25:05.6.
Evan, meanwhile, claimed 18th in 26:10.8.
Together, the Wicks — and RJ Matney of Blair, who graduated from Omaha Roncalli — helped Doane earn a NAIA National Championship qualification. That race is today in Vancouver, Wash.
While the Wicks have had their successes, they're far from the only former Bears to find success in fall college sports. The list, in fact, is long.
Another runner, Lily Johnson, has had her own cross-country success at Washburn University in Kansas. She recently earned All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) honors during the conference meet in Joplin, Mo., before finishing 64th out of 219 runners at the NCAA Central Regional Championships. The BHS grad finished the latter race in 23:02.9.
Five former Bears currently play college football. While Ethan Cox hasn't appeared in a Nebraska Cornhuskers game this fall, the defensive back does have three career tackles and 2017 Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll recognition to his name.
At Morningside College in Iowa, Carter Anderson picked up the first two sacks of his college career this fall. The junior defensive lineman has helped his team to a 10-0 start. The No. 1 Mustangs open the playoffs with Dickinson State on Saturday.
Three Bears, meanwhile, dot the Midland University roster. Freshman Quincy Nichols finished the fall with the seventh-most all-purpose yards on his Warriors team with 354. The speedster had nine punt returns for 98 yards and 13 kick returns for 247 in just six games of action.
Midland's Caddon Keatts and Stewert Cemer, meanwhile, are on the roster, but have yet to play. They are studying criminal justice and business administration management, respectively.
Former Blair golfers Ahnna Schouten, Brandt Radloff and Torrie Loudner have continued onto college as well. Schouten is a senior at Midland, who finished 19th during the Midland Fall Invite at Fremont Golf Club. She wrapped up the fall schedule with a 55th-place finish at the TPC Deere Run Invitational in Illinois.
After two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, Radloff, a junior, finished his first fall at Creighton just recently. The Bluejay competed in four tournaments, finishing with two three-round 228s and two 229s. He was tied for 28th during the Zach Johnson Invitational at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Loudner, meanwhile, is just getting started at the College of Saint Mary. The freshman finished 46th out of 69 golfers at the CSM Classic in September.
Kelsey Roe was her soccer team's top scorer at Blair and she's becoming one of the best finishers at Missouri Western State. The sophomore finished the fall tied second on her team in goals with two. She placed 55 percent of her shots on goal and added an assist for the Griffons.
Another former Bears soccer player, Ben Hamilton, played junior varsity for the Briar Cliff Chargers.
Callie Alberico, however, recently capped an immensely productive college volleyball career at Morningside. The senior finished her Mustangs career with 3,354 assists and 976 digs. The setter helped her team to 16-11 this fall with 700 assists, 49 kills and 15 aces.
Hannah Stogdill, a 2019 Blair graduate and freshman at Dakota Wesleyan, competed as a junior varsity outside hitter for the Tigers.
Blair trapshooters Courtney Nielsen, Weston Zolck, Derek Dishman and Ryan Philby have a bit more experience in their college sport. For the second year in a row, Nielsen was a top contributor during the fall for Southwestern Community College (Iowa) coach Marc Roberg.
“Tyllar (Roesener) and Courtney have been forces to reckon with this year,” he said in a Sept. school release.
Zolck and Philby, meanwhile, are teammates at Iowa Western. Zolck capped the fall with a 309-for-350 showing to help his Reivers team finish third at the Upper Midwest Conference Championships.
Dishman, meanwhile, helped his Midland squad win the ACUI Upper-Midwest title.
Junior Hayley Kastrup is a South Dakota State equestrian team member, who recently notched an 80-point score to help her team top Minnesota-Crookston in a scrimmage meet.
Eagles make college marks
Grace Volk's high school volleyball career ended in a 2017 district final.
After the match in Columbus, the former Arlington Eagles setter recalled her “C” team standing as a seventh-grader. It'd hurt, and she vowed to improve and earn a Division I volleyball scholarship.
Two years into her D1 run at the University of North Carolina Asheville, Volk continues to show her value on the court. The sophomore setter has 229 assists and 10 aces this fall with Big South Championship tournament matches left to play. Her Bulldogs face Presbyterian today in Rock Hills, S.C.
Volk displays her athletic skills on a volleyball court, but numerous other Arlington High School graduates show off their's in different ways.
Hayden Penny is a junior defensive lineman for Nebraska Wesleyan. The former Eagle — who remains teammates with another former AHS grad, Seth McRobert, who is injured this fall — is a two-year starter for the 3-7 Prairie Wolves. He finished this season with 49 total tackles, two forced fumbles and five sacks.
Another former Arlington teammate of Penny's, Samuel Plugge, is a junior defensive back at Hastings College. He has five tackles this fall, while Logan Vie, a 6-foot-9, 340-pound Midland junior, wears No. 79 for the Warriors.
Briar Cliff lineman Brynden Kinnaman, meanwhile, is up to 270 pounds after his days as an Eagle. He helped the Chargers to a 4-2 home record this fall.
On the golf course, Landon Walkenhorst and Rachel Brown continue their careers started as Arlington students. Walkenhorst is a junior at Concordia who recently finished 51st at the GPAC Men's Golf Championships.
Brown, meanwhile, is studying secondary education during her time as a sophomore Midland golfer.
Brook and May Hoesing also play their college sport on grass, but it couldn't be more different. The Wayne State rugby sisters recently helped their team qualify for another NSCRO 15s national trip with Nelson.
Brook is an NSCRO All-American.
Arlington graduate Hannah Hilgenkamp, meanwhile, is a sophomore on the Hastings College shotgun sports team.