Daniel Parker Jr., who signed with the University of Missouri in December, was in the stands and feeling a bit emotional as he watched 30 of his classmates sign national letters of intent Wednesday morning in the Blue Springs High School gymnasium.
The big defensive lineman, who was the winner of the Simone Committee’s Buck Buchanan Award and the Missouri Football Coaches Association’s Class 6 Defensive Player of the Year is eager to get to Columbia along with cross country and track standouts Victor Mugeche and Oaklee Hauschild and football teammates Josh Dodge and Cade Musser (who are receiving preferred walk-on status with the Tigers).
“Is Columbia big enough for all of us Wildcats?” a grinning Parker asked. “I don’t know. It might not be. I just know this is an amazing day to be a Blue Springs Wildcat. All the guys going to Mizzou, all my teammates signing their letters and all the other kids signing – man, 30, that’s a big class. This is just a great day.”
Mugeche, the reigning Class 4 Missouri state cross country champion, and Hauschild led the Wildcats to their first cross country team state championship in 35 years.
“I feel quite blessed to be in this arena today,” Blue Springs cross country coach Frank Gallick said. “Victor and Oaklee will leave a lasting legacy at Blue Springs High School.”
Mugeche will join his older brother and former Blue Springs track and cross country standout Stephen Mugeche at Mizzou.
“We already feel like we’re a part of the Missouri cross country family,” Mugeche said, “and it will really be a family running, and going to school, with Stephen. Oaklee and I are very excited about going to Missouri.”
Added Hauschild: “Going to Missouri and competing with Victor is going to be amazing. We know so many of the guys on the Mizzou cross country team, it’s going to be like going to college and running with our friends or family members.”
Blue Springs activities director and football head coach Kelly Donohoe and principal Bob Jerome were spellbound by the signing class and the variety of sports it represents.
“This might be one of the largest signing classes we’ve had,” Jerome said, “I know it’s one of the largest, if not the largest, since I’ve been here.”
Donohoe, who emceed the event, agreed.
“It’s such an emotional day, especially for the parents, and to have this large of a class is really special. We didn’t have the big signing day back in November (or December), and that’s one reason for the big class today. Plus, we have a lot of special student-athletes here at Blue Springs High School.”
The signing class also included two gymnasts, who are attending Division I schools – Mia Quigg, Illinois State, and Kennedi Davis, Arizona.
“These two girls don’t get a lot of attention here at school because we don’t have a gymnastics team, but they work so hard and are living their dream by going to compete at Division I schools,” Donohoe said.
Reggie Kanagawa, softball, Brigham Young; Payton Minnis, softball, Missouri State; Nick Hessefort, football, Missouri State; and Khristian Boyd, football, Northern Iowa, all signed Division I letters.
Seven baseball players signed, including: Peyton Smith, Logan MacKay and Luke Smith, who will all play at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College; Nick Brandner, Park University; Mason Eaton, Pratt (Kan.) Community College; and Ryan Urfer and Jake Lufft, Pittsburg State.
Four other football players are headed to NCAA Division II schools, including: Sam Knowlton and Azaiah Bello, Central Missouri; Xavier Hall, football, Emporia State; and Tre’ Wheaton, Northwest Missouri State.
Swimming is well represented with Maisy Kurucz, Truman State; and Jake Hubbard and Shaun Van Hoesen, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Softball signees also included Maddy Lavelle, Emporia State; and Morghan Holland and Hallie Walls, Labette (Kan.) Community College.
Volleyball players Caroline Foster and Hannah Vanriette both signed with Cowley (Kan.) Community College. Katie Cole will play women’s soccer at Drury University; Valentin Mpanga signed with the men’s soccer team at Metropolitan Community College (Kansas City, based at MCC-Blue River in Independence); and Elaina Hubner will run cross country and track at Washburn University.