Cherokee athletes sign with colleges, universities
Sequoyah High School senior and distance runner Kayla Harp, 18, of Westville, on Nov. 13 signed a letter of intent with Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Sequoyah High School baseball players Cody Jeanes, left, and Noah Young on Nov. 13 signed letters of intent to play for Bacone College in Muskogee. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Sequoyah High School softball players, from left, Lana Gass, Ryleigh Clinton and Madi Joice on Nov. 13 signed letters of intent with colleges and universities. Gass will attend Rogers State University in Claremore. Clinton signed with Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton, and Joice signed to play at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – A cross-country star, a pair of pitchers and three softball standouts from Sequoyah High School on Nov. 13 signed letters of intent to play at the collegiate level.
The seniors, all 18 years old and Cherokee Nation citizens, were Kayla Harp, Cody Jeanes, Noah Young, Madi Joice, Lana Gass and Ryleigh Clinton.
Harp, a distance runner who finished second at this year’s Class 3A championships in the 3,200-meter run, signed with Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.
“I really like the coach (Brock Hime), and I really like the campus and the town,” Harp, of Westville, said. “It wasn’t too big. It was the perfect size for me. I’m excited.”
Of long-term plans, Harp is “still trying to figure that out.”
“I’ve always liked the idea of being an elementary teacher,” she said. “I’d like to stay close to home, so Oklahoma or Arkansas would be fine with me.”
Baseball teammates Young and Jeanes are headed for Bacone College in Muskogee.
“This was my first choice,” Young said. “I’ve always liked (Bacone head baseball coach Tyrell) Cummings. It’s close, and I think it will be a great organization for me. I think it will just be a good atmosphere and a good ball team.”
Both of the pitchers have been playing ball for years, but began attending Sequoyah as sophomores.
“They had to go through their sit-out year where they could only participate in JV,” SHS Athletic Director Marcus Crittenden said. “So they really both paid their dues because they were varsity-talent kids, but had to wait their turn for the eligibility sit-out. They’re very accomplished as high school pitchers, and have nowhere near topped out.”
In addition to pitching for the Warriors baseball team, Jeanes plans to run cross-country.
Part of a championship softball team, Joice, Gass and Clinton are heading in different directions.
“When these young ladies showed up, we’d lost a crop of really good seniors,” Crittenden said. “They jumped in there and they’ve been part of a very special run – 83 wins in two years. We have one fast-pitch state championship. They were a big part of making that happen.”
Joice, of Tahlequah, signed to play at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
“I just walked on campus there and really felt like I was at home,” she said, adding that it will be tough to leave family and friends behind. “This is all I’ve ever known. But I think I’m going to be OK because I’ve always wanted to get out and experience something new.”
Joice, a softball pitcher who plans to major in biology and later attend medical school, said she was proud of her team’s achievements.
“Honestly, this is the most-winning season Sequoyah has ever had,” she said. “We had the most wins of any team ever in Sequoyah history. That was pretty cool. It didn’t end exactly how we wanted it to, but I think we still did a great job.”
Of her teammates, Joice said, “We’re pretty close. We spend every waking moment together for nine weeks for the most part. It gets rough sometimes, but we love each other in the end.”
Gass, of Stilwell, will attend Rogers State University in Claremore.
“We played tournaments there through the regular season and I just fell in love with it,” Gass said.
Her goal is to enter the nursing or occupational therapy fields.
“It will be a learning experience,” she said of the move. “I think I will be fine up to a point. I think I’ll start missing home. But I don’t have school on Fridays, so I will always be able to spend a lot of time with my family.”
Reflecting on her team, Gass said, “Every season for Sequoyah is a good season. We always have talent.”
The softball utility player is also on Sequoyah’s basketball team.
Clinton, of Stilwell, signed to play for Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton.
“I really like the coaches and the coaching staff,” she said. “I like the campus, and it’s not too far away from home, just about two hours.”
Like her teammates, Clinton also wants to enter the medical profession.
“I want to start out and become an RN,” she said. “Once I do that, I kind of want to work in the emergency room, kind of work everywhere and see what I like. I want to work at (W.W.) Hastings (Hospital) is what I want to do.”
Clinton, a catcher, also looks to her time on the Sequoyah team with pride.
“We had a really, really good season,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season.”