It was a large contingent of Puyallup Vikings celebrating their opportunities to play sports at the collegiate level.
It was diverse group as well: Ten Vikings will be moving on to play football, gymnastics, wrestling, soccer, swim, softball and baseball in college next year.
That long list included Gavin Dunayski (Wyoming, football), Brooklyn Bartelson (Sam Fraser, women’s wrestling), Geneva Thompson (University of Washington, gymnastics), Kennedy Robillard (Pacific Lutheran, softball), Sam Ebner (PLU, soccer), Rowan Poppen-Eagan (Hartwick College in New York, swim), Brayan Torres (Marbella United FC, Spain, soccer), Ryan Teague (Lower Columbia CC, baseball), Zack Larson (Lower Columbia, baseball) and Tallon Yerbury (Edmonds CC, baseball).
Turning down Yale
The most remarkable aspect of Dunayski committing to Wyoming is the fact he made the decision after turning down an Ivy League offer from Yale.
With an interest in a master’s degree in business, surely Yale could have given this soon-to-be defensive tackle all the educational oppourtunities he could want. After all, it was only a few short months ago that he was pining for this chance from an Ivy League school.
“It came down to having to pay $62,000 for school or having a full ride with Wyoming,” Dunayski said. “When I took my official visit, I felt it was the right choice and they would provide me with everything I could need with my education. Plus, they’re team on the rise.”
After winning the Mountain Division out of the Mountain West Conference, and playing in the MWC championship game, which the Cowboys lost to San Diego State, the future looks good out in Laramie, Wyoming.
Liberty League’s finest
If Poppen-Eagan wanted to compete with top swimming competition, he chose no better place than Hartwick College. The program under coach Dale Rothenberger’s more than 30-year tenure at the school has been ranked a top 50 NCAA swim team 16 times over that span.
“I don’t see a weak team. I see a team that will push you to you limits,” said Poppen-Eagen during Wednesday’s signing ceremony.
Probably no school has seen more Puyallup High athletes over the last few years than Pacific Lutheran University, and it’s no different this year with Ebner heading to play men’s soccer for the Lutes and Robillard set to do the same with the softball team.
“I’m super excited to go over there and play with Marissa Miller and Bailey Plumb,” Robillard said. “For me it felt like home. I got to be around a place where people are personable. And that’s what I wanted. Class sizes are small, and I care about my education.”
“I’m really excited to be able to go and play with a guy I played with last year in Levi (Woolley), and a few guys I played with on my club team. So I’m really excited to go over there and play with them,” Ebner said.
No matter what level it is, playing college baseball has been the dream of many kids growing up. With Teague, Larson and Yerbury, all set to play at the next level, these three can say they are making their dreams a reality.
“It’s just relief. Your whole life you always want to play at the next level,” Teague said. “You know you’re going to play at the high school level, but not everyone is guaranteed to play in college. Right now is just (about) enjoying with all my family and all my teammates.”
And being a team — one working on securing another 4A SPSL championship.
“I’m just happy to be with guys that push each other each and every day,” Larson added. “I have big dreams, and I’m one step closer to getting there, and that’s because of my teammates and coaches.”