South Whidbey sends seven Falcons to play collegiate sports

LANGLEY — Statistics can go a long way. Look at some of the nation’s top prospects in football, basketball, tennis, soccer, golf and all of the other high school sports.

Austin Bennett will continue his football career in college.

LANGLEY — Statistics can go a long way.

Look at some of the nation’s top prospects in football, basketball, tennis, soccer, golf and all of the other high school sports.

Big numbers lead to big scholarships.

One statistic people, students and fans of high school sports don’t know about is the minuscule amount of high school athletes who advance in their athletic careers to the NCAA or NAIA.

Out of 1,071,775 high school football players, only 5.7 percent play college football.

Boys and girls basketball athletes only move on 3 percent; soccer — 5.5 percent; baseball — 6.1 percent.

Here’s another stat: 5.5 percent of the 2011 graduates will play sports in college.

The South Whidbey High School class of 2011 boasts a handful of athletes who will continue their athletic careers. Tyler “Chuck” Norris, Austin Bennett, Riley Newman, Van Morgen, Shane Thompson, Will Hallberg and Chantal White all have opportunities to play sports in college.

Norris, an all-conference defensive end, committed to the University of Puget Sound. UPS is a NCAA Division III school and offers academic scholarships to athletes.

Also South Whidbey’s Associated Student Body president, Norris said he is excited to continue his football career.

“My love for the game will always be there and

I wasn’t done playing football yet,” Norris said. “I wanted to be a part of another football family and take my talents to Tacoma.”

Norris said the Loggers coaches believe he will have the best chance to play as a freshman if he plays defensive end, which is his favorite position. He was a first-team defensive end his junior year before other teams keyed on him during his senior season. He still finished with 6.5 sacks and averaged 10 tackles per game, on top of his 279 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Bennett is also committed to playing football. The All-Area defensive back will enroll at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif. He hopes to play a variety of positions and leave after two years to a four-year college or university.

“I’ll be either playing safety or wide receiver there,” Bennett said, “And I hope to receive a scholarship to a D-I or D-I AA school to transfer out to. It’s my overall goal to get to the highest level.”

Bennett, who was a first-team all-Cascade Conference safety and honorable mention wide receiver, scored four rushing touchdowns, caught one touchdown and caught six interceptions. He said he wants to establish himself on the team to have an opportunity to transfer to a higher profile school.

Morgen and Newman are both moving on to the collegiate level through tennis. Morgen will enroll at Concordia-Irvine in Irvine, Calif., and Newman will attend Skagit Valley Community College. In tennis, Newman played in four state tournaments, finished in fourth place twice, played in two championship matches and won one state singles title.

All-Conference golfer Thompson will accept an invitation to play golf at California Lutheran.

“The coach e-mailed me near the end of my junior year (after his performance at the 2010 state tournament),” Thompson said, “and then e-mailed and called me in September to let me know he wanted me on the team.”

He received a partial academic scholarship along with his invite to play golf.

“I’m excited to be a Kingsmen because three other athletes were recruited to Cal Lutheran,” he said. “All of them are from my area and I know them all well from tournaments and meets.”

The team mascots for California Lutheran University are the Kingsmen and Regals.

One of those fellow CLU students is White. She will run cross country for the Regals. White ran the ninth-best time in the Cascade Conference cross country season at 20 minutes, 0.34 seconds.

“My life revolves around cross country and I just love it,” White said.

White ran cross country all four years at South Whidbey and drew closer to a sub-20 minute time every season. It was her career goal.

Location and education led her to choose the school in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

“I loved the city and I loved the coach, also it is a very good academic school so all of that factored into my decision,” she said.

The final Falcon who will compete in collegiate athletics is Hallberg, who earlier said he committed to the Central Washington University track and field program last year. He set the South Whidbey record in the triple jump.

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