Area quartet headed off to Division I schools
By DAVID HARPSTER
The chance to sign their name to a letter-of-intent to play sports in college is something that many high school athletes work toward for years. For a handful of area athletes, that goal became a reality on Wednesday. Two basketball players and a volleyball player made their decision to attend Division I colleges official. The Jackson tandem of 6-foot-6 senior Josh Egner and 6-7 senior Mark Henniger cast their lot with Mid-American Conference basketball rivals Akron and Kent State, respectively.
Jackson’s Britney Terrell became the third Polar Bear to sign with a Division I school when she inked a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Wright State University. Meanwhile, Northwest volleyball standout Dakota Harkins made her choice to attend Toledo official when she faxed her letter-of-intent to the school.
While all the athletes had made up their minds earlier by verbally committing to attend the schools of choice, the fact their decisions were finally official brought about a sense of relief.
“It was really important to me to get it done before the season started,” said Egner, who averaged 14.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in helping Jackson go 17-4 last season. “Now I can go out and play for fun, play for my teammates and not have to go out there and try to impress anyone. I just want to do my best for the guys who are in the locker room.”
Henniger, who scored 20.5 points and pulled down 7.3 rebounds a game, never wavered after verbally committing to become a Golden Flash shortly after last season was completed.
“It feels good, better than it did before because now it’s official. I know I’ll be playing at Kent State for sure now,” Henniger said. “I was pretty dead set on Kent State. I like their coaches and players a lot, it’s close to home and they have a really good reputation in basketball. All those things attracted me to it.” While teammate Brad DuPont didn’t go Division I, he was able to secure an offer to Division II Wheeling Jesuit that he also made official Wednesday.
Coach Mike Fuline couldn’t hide his pleasure in seeing three of his players have their college educations taken care of through their efforts on the court.
“I remember meeting them for the first time,” Fuline said. “It was their seventh-grade year, in the spring and I had heard that they were pretty good. I went and looked at them. Josh was about 5-foot-10 and pudgier, Mark was only about 6-1 and Brad was about 5-6 or 5-7. But then you watched them play and you saw something in them. They just competed, even that age. “As a coach all you can do is give them all the opportunities to get better. They have to take advantage of it, though, and all of them did.”
Jackson volleyball coach Jeff Walck was only able to coach Terrell for one season, but he had no doubt that the 6-foot outside hitter will find success at the college level.
“I was very fortunate at when I was at Tallmadge to have quite a few girls who went on and played in college,” Walck said. “Britney is right there with all of them in terms of ability.
“She has a lot of athleticism and power. Those attributes helped her become a very dynamic player on the court for us this season.”
Like Terrell, Harkins was a four-year letterwinner for her school. This season, the 6-foot middle hitter helped propel Northwest to its first Division II regional final since 2002. While the Indians had their year end in a loss to defending state champion Parma Padua, Harkins closed out her sterling career with 17 kills and five blocks. Northwest finished 24-4 this season, including a 14-0 mark in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference.
“I always liked Toledo and they were involved early in the recruiting process,” said Harkins. “I went there in July and really liked and it then decided in August that was where I wanted to go. Everything just kind of clicked for me when I went there and I really liked the team and the new coach they have.”