Three Newton High School athletes announced their college commitments Wednesday afternoon at the NHS auditorium.
Wrestler Wyatt Hendrickson signed with the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Football players Colton Davis signed with Ottawa University in Ottawa and Ethan Entz signed with Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.
Hendrickson becomes the fourth Newton athlete to sign with a US service academy in recent years. Unlike the normal college recruiting process, acceptance into the academies require a congressional appointment.
Hendrickson is a four-year letterwinner in wrestling. He was a Class 5A state runner-up as a sophomore and a state champion as a junior. He is currently undefeated, ranked first at 220 pounds by the state coaches and ranked third nationally by Track Wrestling.
He is a national medalist in USA Wrestling competition in his age division in both Greco-Roman and freestyle.
While Hendrickson has all his appointments, he’ll start his career at Air Force Prep, a 10-month program, also on the USAFA campus.
“It’s like a red shirt for the academies,” Hendrickson said. “You can’t red shirt at the academy. They have a mini-boot camp of six days. It’s not like the six weeks they have at the academy. If you’re an athlete, it’s still a challenge, but it’s easier. I’ll do that and will go straight into the academy as long as I keep a 2.0 grade-point-average.”
Air Force is currently 5-5 in dual meets. The Falcons wrestle in the Big 12 Conference and are 1-4.
“The ultimate goal is to be a two-time All-American and get to the NCAA finals,” Hendrickson said. “I just have to keep grinding. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. As long as I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be OK. They’ll push me.”
Hendrickson is undecided about his major, but he is expressing interest in either becoming a pilot or a special operatorations.
“A lot of the wrestlers go into special operations,” Hendrickson said. “You’re out there for long periods of time. I’m looking to do something to do to make a difference.”
Hendrickson follows Newton grad Kade Remsberg to Air Force, a current football player. Former teammate Logan Treaster is a wrestler at the US Naval Academy.
“I talk to Kade a little bit,” Hendrickson said. “My girlfriend is close to his girlfriend. Kade wrestled a little bit when he was younger and filled in all the gaps. Logan always come back in the winter. I always give him a hug. Different colleges, but it’s still the same team.”
“I’ve been lucky to coach Wyatt the last four years,” Newton wrestling coach Tommy Edgmon said. “It’s been awesome to watch him grow from his freshman year and just achieve these things and have the opportunity to continue his wrestling and education with the Air Force, an awesome school. I’ll be excited to see where he’s at in three or four years.”
Davis played quarterback for Newton. He will play quarterback or wide receiver for the Ottawa Braves, a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference member.
A second-team All-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I selection, he helped lead Newton to a 3-6 record. He hit 95 of 202 passes for 1,131 with nine touchdowns. He also rushed for 977 yards on 138 carries with 15 touchdowns.
Ottawa was 8-2 last season overall and in the KCAC, taking second in the conference and finishing 20th in the final NAIA poll.
“It was just how small it was,” Davis said. “It was like home.”
Davis will get a couple of chances to compete at home when the Braves play at Bethel.
“That will be fun,” Davis said. “It will almost be like playing under the hometown lights.”
Davis intends to major in biology.
Entz was an offensive lineman for the Railers. He also earned second-team All-AV-VTL I honors.
Dordt finished 7-3 last season, 6-3 in Great Plains Athletic Conference play, setting a school record for wins in a season. The Defenders finished the season ranked 23rd in the NAIA poll.
For Entz, it was finding a school with his choice of major and a football team.
“I found out about Dordt from a letter I got in the mail about their (agriculture) program,” Entz said. “I sent an e-mail to them that I was interested in their football program as well. They put me in touch with their coaches.”
He’ll play offensive tackle for the Defenders.
“I just want a chance to compete,” he said.
“It’s been an honor to coach these individuals,” Newton football coach Chris Jaax said. “Colton has been a quarterback for us. As a sophomore, he had a lot of injuries. His character and work ethic really shows in the way he developed as a player. … Ethan was a three-year starter for us. He’s about twice the size as he was as a sophomore. He’s definitely a much bigger kid. He’s worked hard and very dedicated to the process. What’s impressive about Ethan was how serious he took the recruiting process. He found a school where he is really going to fit in.”