As the class of 2024 graduates West High, many seniors are committing to play different sports in college.
As the class of 2024 graduates West High, many seniors are committing to play different sports in college.
Ali Parkhurst

Seniors Who Committed

As the class of 2024 graduates West High, many seniors are discussing their commitments to continue their academic and athletic careers in college.
Senior Jersey Van Erem plans to attend Quincey University to play softball.
Jersey Van Erem

Jersey Van Erem has played softball since she was six years old, moving from t-ball to the Jr. Wahawks and up to the varsity softball team at West High. Going into her fifth season with the Wahawk softball team, Van Erem has committed to Quincy University to further her academic and athletic career. 

Van Erem shares that a big aspect of the college she enjoyed was the competitive conference they play in as well as the opportunities the school will give her. “Not only will I pitch for Quincy but I will also have the opportunity to play in the field and hit in the lineup and I’m excited about that! The team also gives back to the community and I really like that,” she says.

Before committing to Quincy University, Van Erem shared that she received offers from other schools including Waldorf University, Hawkeye Community College, Southwestern Community College, Central Methodist University and Iowa Central.

Moving on to college athletics, Van Erem shares that there is plenty to be excited for, “I am looking forward to meeting new people at Quincy and of course, playing college softball and traveling with the team! This will be a new challenge and I’m excited to get to work when I get there!”

Though she is leaving her high school team, Van Erem shares that West High softball has prepared her for what college athletics will be like. “Playing softball at West High has humbled me, this is a game of failure and you have to learn how to work through that. I also learned how to battle through tough games while playing tough competition,” she says. 

Van Erem notes that she will miss the students at West High after she graduates in May, specifically the student section and being able to participate in cheering on her peers. “I will also miss playing softball with my teammates. We have a lot of fun during games, off-season practices, and of course at the famous 6 am swim workouts before school. Spending so much time throughout the year with these girls is like a big sisterhood and I will miss them,” she says.

Van Erem shares that the biggest influence on her athletic career has been her relationship with her family and coaches, specifically Kelsey Aikey and Jackie Spencer.

Leaving her high school career behind, Van Erem shares the lessons she has learned throughout the last few years as an athlete; “ALWAYS KEEP WORKING!! From my experience, playing 5A softball is not easy. You will get humbled quickly but do not get discouraged. Just keep your head down and grind because one day it will all pay off. Also, the weight room is your biggest friend, get in there, get to work, and see it pay off. Remember that work ethic, character, and grades matter especially if you want to play softball after high school.”

Senior Jersey Van Erem plans to attend Quincey University to play softball. (Ali Parkhurst )
Senior Olivia Wittmayer plans to attend Wartburg College to continue golfing.
Olivia Wittmayer

Olivia Wittmayer has been playing golf for two years, starting in her sophomore year of high school. Wittmayer golfs as a Wahawk under the coaching of Kelly Nelson.

In her search for a fitting college, Wittmayer was contacted by Coe College who showed interest in her participation on their golf team. However, Wittmayer decided to stick to her decision about attending Wartburg.

After knowing the coach for two years, Wittmayer took a tour at Wartburg college, not expecting to enjoy the trip, “but I ended up falling in love with the school and the golf program itself,” Wittmayer says. 

As she moves on to golf at a collegiate level, Wittmayer shares that West High has prepared her for college athletics; “my playing time at West has definitely shaped me in lots of different ways, one of the biggest ways being confidence when I’m playing. Whether it’s confidence at a big meet, or confidence on a tough shot on the course.” 

Wittmayer adds that she is ready to continue on to the college level, saying “I am most excited about experiencing what it is like to be a college athlete and everything that comes along with it.”

Despite being prepared for college, leaving her high school team is difficult for Wittmayer. “I am going to miss my teammates and coaches the most, I have formed so many bonds and friendships with my team throughout these past years, and I’m going to miss not being able to play competitively with them anymore,” she says.

As she reflects on her time as a Wahawk, Wittmayer notes the unconditional support from her team and coaching staff. “Coach Nelson never gave up on getting me on the team, and I thank her every day for that. She believes in me and has helped me grow so much through the sport,” she says. Wittmayer also notes that Coach John Thompson has been a positive influence on her through golf. “He always tells me to not get too hard on myself, and he helps bring out a confidence in me I didn’t know I had,” she said.

Wittmayer’s biggest piece of advice for freshmen is to ‘go for it.’ “I was super anxious about going out for golf my Freshman year so I never did, and it is one of my biggest regrets to this day. Don’t be afraid to go for it, it’s a self and a team sport, so be aggressive but be a team player and support each other,” Wittmayer says.

Senior Olivia Wittmayer plans to attend Wartburg College to continue golfing. (Ali Parkhurst )
Senior Ryan Harn plans to attend Southwest Minnesota State University to participate in their Track and Field program
Ryan Harn

Ryan Harn has participated in track and field for six years now, starting when he was in seventh grade. Going into his sixth season during his senior year, Harn has committed to Southwest Minnesota State University. 

“I loved the culture of the team and the coaching staff as well as I know that this team is getting a lot better and are going to compete very well in the future,” Harn shares. He notes other colleges who had contacted him including the University of Dubuque, Coe College, Iowa Central and other out of state colleges.

Moving on to college athletics, Harn is most excited to meet his new teammates and compete under a new coaching staff. He believes that with new coaches, his abilities will grow significantly in college. 

An impact Harn has received from West High came from his high school teammates and coaching staff. “I created relationships that will carry on with me for a very long time and learned so many new skills that will also carry with me for the rest of my career,” he says. 

“I will miss most all of the memories I made with my teammates and coaches and all of the great track meets and races I had over the years and especially the races I won,” Harn shares. After being on the West High team for four years, Harn has competed at events such as the Drake Relays and the State Tournament. 

Harn shares that the biggest influence on his athletic career has been his relationship with God. He stated “God has definitely been the most influential person in my life and my Track career as well. I praise him the most for my success on and off the Track.”

As he graduates from West High in May, Harn’s biggest piece of advice to the incoming freshmen is to enjoy their time, “Make sure to have lots of fun, this is a sport where you have to be very mentally tough but have fun with the process, always work hard, and have a great attitude and you’ll do great.”

Senior Ryan Harn plans to attend Southwest Minnesota State University to participate in their Track and Field program (Ali Parkhurst )
Senior Callie Smedley plans to attend Hawkeye Community College to be a member of their bowling team.
Callie Smedley

Callie Smedley has participated in bowling for nearly her whole life, starting when she was five years old. Going into her fourth season with the Wahawk bowling team, Smedley has decided to commit to Hawkeye Community College to continue bowling as she graduates high school. 

Smedley shares that a large influence on her decision to go to Hawkeye was their dental program. On top of this, Smedley is excited to be reunited with bowlers she has known before, “I am looking forward to meeting new people as well as being back with my old teammates.” 

The small team and close environment she has experienced within high school is something that Smedley believes will help her grow in the college setting. “I will miss being on a team with my siblings and some of my best friends,” she says. 

Smedley says that in her athletic career, the most influential person has been her grandma, who also bowled. 

As she graduates from West High in May, Smedley’s biggest piece of advice to the incoming class of 2028 is to give bowling a try. “The bowling coaches are some of the best coaches in the state and being on such a diverse team is very fun,” she says.

Senior Callie Smedley plans to attend Hawkeye Community College to be a member of their bowling team. (Ali Parkhurst )
Senior Lydia Parkhurst plans to attend Hawkeye Community College to be on their first womens wrestling team.
Lydia Parkhurst

Lydia Parkhurst was West High’s first four year female wrestler. She has wrestled for four years now, being on both the co-ed team and the first Women’s Wrestling team at West High. After her time at West comes to an end, Parkhurst plans on attending Hawkeye Community College to be on their first female wrestling team as well. “I wanted to stay close to home and they are having their first team for the 2024-2025 school year and I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Parkhurst shares.

Parkhurst says that although she will miss her teammates and coaches, she is excited for the new opportunities she will have at Hawkeye. “I am most excited about being a part of the first girl’s wrestling team at Hawkeye,” Parkhurst says. After being on the first girls only wrestling team at West High, Parkhurst is more than ready to create the same level of community as she moves into college. 

Parkhurst reflects on the impact that West High Wrestling has had on her athletic career. “Wrestling for West gave me this opportunity while the wrestling style will be different. It has taught me to work hard,” she says. Parkhurst shares that as she graduates, she will miss her teammates and coaches the most.

As she leaves her high school team behind, Parkhurst says that her biggest impact has been her coach. “Mr. Kadlec has been a very influential part of my wrestling career because he would always push me to be better and encourage me along the way,” she said. 

As she leaves behind a legacy with the womens wrestling program, Parkhurst shares her wisdom for the incoming freshmen, “give any sport a try now is the time to figure out what you want to do and try out different things.”

Senior Lydia Parkhurst plans to attend Hawkeye Community College to be on their first women’s wrestling team. (Ali Parkhurst )
Senior Danica Wrage plans to attend Des Moines Area Community College to continue playing volleyball.
Danica Wrage

Danica Wrage has played volleyball for nine years, the last four being on the West High volleyball team. After her fourth season with the Wahawk volleyball team, Wrage has decided to commit to Des Moines Area Community College to continue playing volleyball after she graduates high school. 

Wrage shares that a major influence on her decision to go to DMACC was their volleyball team, “I committed to this school because I loved the coaches and the atmosphere.” Wrage shares that she is excited about all the new experiences she will have in college, saying “I am looking forward to being in a new environment, meeting new people and getting better as an athlete.”

There is a lot to dread about leaving West High behind, “I will miss being in the Wahawk atmosphere, the West vs East games and the players I built relationships with,” Wrage shares. As she takes on the transition from high school to college, Wrages shares that the changes will be positive and hard at the same time. “In highschool I was a starter which might negatively impact me as I’m not guaranteed starting in college, but most importantly I want to get better and improve my game,” she says. 

“Dr. Pappas definitely has an impact on me as an athlete,” Wrage shares. On top of being on the varsity volleyball team, Wrage also played basketball and ran track for West High

As she graduates from West High in May, Wrage shares that the biggest piece of advice she has for incoming freshmen is to put in as much effort as you can, sharing “work your hardest even when no one is watching and try to stay confident through the ups and downs!”

Senior Danica Wrage plans to attend Des Moines Area Community College to continue playing volleyball. (Ali Parkhurst )
Senior Charlie Rowenhorst plans to attend Northwestern University to play Soccer
Charlie Rowenhorst

Charlie Rowenhorst has played soccer for 13 years, starting when he was five years old. The last four years of Rowenhorst’s career has been with the West High boys soccer team. After his fourth season with the Wahawk soccer team, Rowenhorst has decided to commit to Northwestern University in Orange City to continue his athletic and academic career.  

“I committed to the school because it is a Christian based college and has a good soccer program,” Rowenhorst shares. As a part time student at West High, Rowenhorst is also a student-athlete at Waterloo Christian. Rowenhorst shares that he is ready to grow as a student and athlete, “I am most excited to grow my faith and make new friends at college along with playing soccer there.”

“My soccer career at West High has helped me become a better and more versatile athlete and soccer player and will help my going into college sports,” Rowenhorst says. For three years before becoming a dual enrolled student, Rowenhorst played soccer for West High while being a student at Waterloo Christian. 

Moving from his schools in Waterloo to college, Rowenhorst shares that he will miss the community and spirit that West High has. 

As a student athlete, Rowenhorst believes that he was most greatly impacted by his brothers and his father. Each of these men played soccer before him, and played a large role in Rowenhorst’s passion for the sport.

Rowenhorst’s advice to the incoming freshmen is to enjoy their time at West High, “they will never last as long as you wish,” he says. 

Senior Charlie Rowenhorst plans to attend Northwestern University to play Soccer (Ali Parkhurst)
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About the Contributor
Ali Parkhurst, News and Sports Editor; Yearbook Editor-In-Chief
(she/her) Ali Parkhurst is a senior at West High. This is her second year as a Wahawk Insider staff member, Parkhurst is also the Editor-In-Chief for the Wahawk Yearbook. Outside of school, Parkhurst is a varsity cheerleader and a server at Doughy Joeys. Parkhurst enjoys photography, running, and spending time with her friends.
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    Mariah SlaterFeb 16, 2024 at 11:13 am

    AYEE THIS IS FIRE ALI P!!!! THIS GO CRAZZZYYYY

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