Seven head to next level for athletics
As far as anyone knows, Fredericksburg High School’s signing day bonanza has never been quite like Wednesday’s.
Seven FHS athletes inked letters of intent to play college athletics Wednesday, Nov. 8, in FHS library.
Aubrey Sultemeier (volleyball, Ole Miss), Madi Wahrmund (volleyball, Lafayette), Riggs Threadgill (baseball, LSU), Ryan Segner (baseball, Baylor), TJ Tomlinson (baseball, Odessa College), Bryce Raders (track, Utah State) and Gabe Reno (lacrosse, Cleveland State) celebrated taking their next step in athletics and education in the ceremony.
“It’s an excellent feeling, it’s a blessing for our community and a great accomplishment for all of these kids,” head football coach and athletic director Lance Moffett said. “What an achievement for any school to have this many. For us to have this many is remarkable. We’re extremely excited for these kids.”
The group includes six future NCAA Division I athletes who might pop up on ESPN broadcasts starting next year.
It’s the most Moffett’s seen sign at one time in the seven years he has led the FHS athletics program.
“That’s awesome. I think every athlete, that’s their goal, to play at the next level,” Moffett said. “I think we want to celebrate that, wish them well. Having done this 25 years, it’s neat to be able to see them go and do that.”
Winning’s not the only goal on the list for the coaches and athletes of FHS.
Getting a chance to pursue an education while extending an athlete’s playing career ranks up there with any trophy.
“As a team, your dream is to go far in the playoffs and make a run at the state championship, but there’s so much more to athletics at the high school level,” FHS volleyball coach Kaci Rittimann said. “It’s really about the best opportunity for each kid. The more athletes you can get playing the game longer and pursuing a career in athletics, that’s the main goal.”
Sultemeier will be the first to touch down on a college campus.
The senior plans on graduating in the winter in order to enroll into Ole Miss and get a jumpstart on her volleyball career.
That means she plans on starting classes in Oxford, Mississippi, on Jan. 18.
“Since we play in the fall, it would benefit me a lot” Sultemeier said. “I can do all of the spring training, get on the nutrition plan, do all of that stuff. Learn how to handle my college classes and working out so by time fall hits, I’ll be seasoned and conditioned, ready to play conference matches in the fall.”
The plan is to get court time during her freshman season playing for the Rebels, which play in the Southeastern Conference.
“For Aubrey, she’s always about the next step,” Rittimann said. “That’s what I love about here. She’s going to give whatever she has in the time being, but she’s ready to go to Ole Miss and leave a mark there.”
It’s about academics for Wahrmund, who chose Lafayette, located in Easton, Pennsylvania, for its academic rigor.
“I want to be an orthopedic surgeon or some kind of doctor,” she said. “Lafayette is really competitive academically and athletically, so I want a school where I can get into med school with the reputation it has.”
A decision like that doesn’t surprise her coach, who said she had offers from bigger Division I schools but stuck with Lafayette.
“She didn’t want to give up her academics for playing at a bigger DI school,” Rittimann said. “It just shows the disciple and determination on her end.”
The experience of signing is “crazy,” Wahrmund says, but she’s ready for the move to the Northeast.
“I’m so looking forward to it,” she said. “I’ll have to get a whole new wardrobe, because Pennsylvania is far away. I’m looking forward to it because I know everyone else on the team will have the same competitiveness that I have. It will be really cool.”
Segner’s set to pitch for the Baylor Bears, based in Waco, starting in 2019.
He’s one of three seniors with futures in baseball lined up, along with Threadgill and Tomlinson.
“It’s pretty exhilarating, all of us going to pretty prestigious schools,” Segner said.
“It’s great for the program, not just the baseball program but the Battlin’ Billies (athletics) program,” FHS baseball coach Derrick Dietrich said. “It’s a pretty special deal.”
Baylor plays in the Big 12 Conference, a part of Division I’s “Power 5.”
“Ryan is a competitor,” Dietrich said. “He’s a laid-back look type of pitcher, but he’ll compete his butt off out there (on the mound).”
The senior pitcher has spent time working with former Kansas City Royals pitcher Darrell May in Austin and it paid off in a scholarship to play for a Division I powerhouse.
Threadgill’s slated to pitch for one of college baseball’s storied programs in the LSU Tigers baseball team of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“I went down there and it just felt right,” Threadgill said. “Got to love Baton Rouge.”
LSU has six College World Series titles to its name, along with CWS appearances in three of the last five seasons.
There’s an off chance that teammates Threadgill and Segner might face off in a high-stakes baseball game in the future.
“Things would have to work out perfect,” Threadgill said. “He’s in the Big 12, I’m in the SEC. Maybe we’d meet up in the regionals or College World Series.”
Tomlinson usually takes the field at shortstop, but his future might be on the mound.
“I played summer ball and usually don’t pitch, but started to pitch,” Tomlinson said. “(An Odessa College coach) came to watch and I hit 88 (mph on the radar). From there, he gave me an offer.”
The senior’s set to play for Odessa College, an National Junior College Athletic Association program in Odessa, but his coach said he had DI looks as well.
“He was seen at a showcase this summer,” Dietrich said. “He’s been on the radar. We’ve talked to Texas State and some places like that. They were interested. There’s a lot of talent in the state of Texas. It’s almost a blessing to have an opportunity to play anywhere these days.”
Either way, Tomlinson is just glad to take part in college athletics in the future.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’m blessed to have this experience.”
Raders has steadily worked his way up in the pole vaulting world, clearing the bar of going to a Division I university.
He has one more track season left before heading to Utah State in Logan, Utah.
“My official visit was kind of last minute,” Raders said. “I did that the last weekend in October. I loved my visit, loved the team and how it worked out. Here I am. It’s all surreal.”
Raders played varsity football as a sophomore but dropped the sport with an eye on a track scholarship.
He made his first state meet this spring and has another season to go.
“It’s pretty crazy thinking about all the stuff I did for it and all the hard work to get to this point,” Raders said. “It’s actually happening.”
FHS doesn’t have a lacrosse team, but that didn’t stop Reno from making it to Division I Cleveland State, based in Cleveland, Ohio.
“It’s been my dream since I was young,” Reno said. “I’ve always loved lacrosse and DI’s obviously the best out there. That’s where I’ve always wanted to put myself. I’m super excited.”
He started playing lacrosse when his family lived in Pennsylvania 10 years ago. The Renos have lived in Fredericksburg for about three years.
Fredericksburg doesn’t have lacrosse, so Reno makes the hour-long trip to Dripping Springs just about every day to practice or play for the Dripping Springs Tigers, which compete in the Texas High School Lacrosse League.
“It’s an hour drive there and back,” Reno said. “During the spring, when everything’s fullgo, it’s two hours plus practice time every day. It’s kind of a lot, but it’s definitely worth it.”