Oregon State lands two of area's standouts on signing day

Camas' Clarkson is area's top football recruit; Goecke goes for cross country

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Football. Cross country. Track and field.

Oregon State came looking to Clark County for the future in those sports.

Drew Clarkson, an offensive lineman from Camas, signed a letter of intent with Oregon State to play football in the Pac-12 Conference.

At Prairie High School, Nicole Goecke is going to Oregon State, taking her running skills with her to Corvallis for cross country and track.

Those are two of the many, many highlights around Clark County on Wednesday, the first day athletes in football, soccer, and track and field could sign with college programs.

Many high schools held signing ceremonies Wednesday or have scheduled them in the coming days.

The national media picked up Drew Clarkson's story once again. He was featured in The Columbian last summer after battling cancer, and Fox Sports linked that story today on the home page of its website.

Today, Clark said he is healthy and looking forward to competing for the Beavers.

He also said he has heard that other athletes on this day are nervous. Not him.

"I slept great. I've been an Oregon State Beaver for the past three, four months," he said, referring to the day he promised the Beavers he was going to sign with them. "When I committed … I committed. I couldn't imagine going anywhere else."

Goecke, a three-sport athlete at Prairie, will settle for two in college.

"It feels great to be part of the family, officially," she said.

A basketball player since the fourth grade, Goecke started running as a freshman.

"I hated cross country at first. I wanted to quit, and I ended up loving it," she said.

Camas honored 10 athletes, including some who had signed in other sports during the fall period, at its morning ceremony.

The football team had a total of five players at the signing table.

Quarterback Reilly Hennessey, the Gatorade state player of the year, signed with Eastern Washington. So did the team's top receiver, Zach Eagle.

"This is just tying the knot, making it official," said Hennessey, who had declared his intention last summer.

He is looking forward to working with Eagle again.

"It's awesome," he said. "Not only a friend, but one of the best teammates to go with me, to push me to get better."

Eagle noted that the two were teammates long before high school, in youth sports.

"Having a chance to build our relationship together is awesome," Eagle said.

Jorden Payne, a defensive back, is going to Eastern Oregon. Jason Vailea, a defensive lineman, is heading the other way, signing with Western Oregon.

Also at Camas, Teylen Sheesley will play women's soccer at Hamline University in Minnesota; Dylan White will play baseball at the University of Portland; Blake Christopher will play baseball at George Fox University; Harli Hubbard will play softball at North Carolina State, and Lena Richards will play softball at the University of Akron.

Tyler Grant and James Phillips joined Goecke at Prairie's ceremony.

Grant, an offensive lineman, will play football at Central Washington. He called the program a "close family."

Phillips signed as a basketball player at Concordia but has also been told he can compete in track and field, as well.

"This whole thing is just a phenomenal experience," he said. "I'm really excited to see the door open up to the next adventure."

Union highlighted five athletes, including the school's all-time leading rusher, Leon Siofele, who signed with Central Washington.

"It feels great, finally," he said. "I can't wait to continue doing what I love."

There was some talk early in the recruiting process that he might play defense in college.

"Running back has always been my favorite position," Siofele said. "I'm happy I get to continue to play it in college."Union honored three soccer players: Collin Partee, a goalkeeper, signed with Utah Valley University; Maddie Sjothun is going to Northern Arizona; and Haley Wheelon is off to California Baptist University.

In baseball, Union's Jake Hawken signed with the University of Portland in the fall.

Heritage celebrated the signings of two football players. E'Lon Mack, wide receiver, is going to Western Oregon. Antonio Pulido, a defensive lineman, is going to Southern Oregon.

"We want to put Heritage on the map," Mack said. "Even though our (win-loss) record didn't show it, we did work hard."

"The record doesn't show your ability to play at the next level," Pulido added. "If you work hard, it will pay off in the end."

At Mountain View, it was reported that academy soccer players Foster Langsdorf was set to sign with Stanford in the Pac-12, while Isaac Strever is going to the Air Force Academy.

In women's soccer, Milla Benedetti of Mountain View is going to Grand Canyon University in Arizona.

At Evergreen, Brody Bagnall was expected to sign with Air Force for football. Justin Straup was set to play football at Linfield, and Arthur Robinson was set for football at Southern Oregon.

Woodland also has a number of athletes preparing for college athletics.

Quarterback Hunter Huddleston will play football for Southwest Minnesota State. Tanner Huddleston is going to play golf at Concordia. Maddie Sorensen will play softball at George Fox. And Zach Wardle is expected to attend Graceland University in Iowa for wrestling.

Columbia River is having a ceremony for all of its signings later this month:

Charlene Burger, University of Montana women's soccer; Ana Delgadillo, Concordia women's soccer; Lindsey Hurley, Hawaii Pacific women's soccer; Easton Kawawaki, Point Loma University women's soccer; Emily Morgan, Weber State track and field; and Madison Reynolds, Grand Canyon women's soccer.

Coaches and athletic directors, please let us know of any other athletes who have made their college decisions. E-mail us at sports@columbian.com