• Eight sign letters of intent for Blue Springs

  • Blue Springs High School senior Simon Belete had to make a difficult decision.

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  • Blue Springs High School senior Simon Belete had to make a difficult decision.
    The Gatorade Missouri Cross Country Runner of the Year could attend UMKC with one
    of his best friends and prep teammate, James Barnett, or he could take a stab at Ivy League life and sign a letter of intent with Brown University in Rhode Island.
    “I visited each school,” said Belete, the 2012 state champion and The Examiner’s Runner
    of the Year, “and I liked each one of them. I knew most of the guys on the team at UMKC – and of course, James was going there – but I liked how the Brown coach emphasized academics.
    “And academics are very important to me. So I selected Brown. It’s going to be a
    challenge, and I’m excited about that.”
    Belete and Barnett were part of a large signing class Thursday morning at Blue Springs High School that also included Shelby Ellebracht, volleyball, Missouri Valley; Corbin
    Hare, baseball, Rockhurst; Zack Byrd, soccer, Dominican University (Illinois); Brittany
    AuBuchon, soccer, Blue River; Alyssa Scholl, soccer, Missouri Valley; and Cali Bissell, pole
    vault, Emporia State.
    “Four years ago, when Simon and James were freshman, I knew this day was coming,”
    Blue Springs cross country coach Frank Gallick said. “I think that by committing to Brown, you see that Simon is gifted both academically and athletically.
    “He had the fastest time of anyone in any of the four classes at state and he had a great
    senior year.
    “And I’m proud of James. He finished in 10th place and was all-state as a senior. It’s
    fitting that we would have this signing ceremony in the gym because we can look up and see their names of the cross-country all-state banner.”
    Barnett said selecting UMKC was an easy choice.
    “I know a lot of guys on the team and I’m an only child, so I wanted to go to school that
    was close to home and that also had a good cross country program,” Barnett said. “I’m excited for Simon and I’m excited about going to UMKC. Next year is going to be very exciting.”
    Activities director Frank Wheeler introduced each players’ coach and they commented
    about the impact they had made at Blue Springs High School.
    “This is the fourth time I’ve had the privilege of taking part in a signing ceremony and
    this is a real tribute to Shelby,” volleyball coach Katie Grusing said. “She was our libero, and that’s like a defensive quarterback.
    “She did all the things that helped us win matches that don’t get headlines. She was an
    Page 2 of 3 - important part of our team.”
    Baseball coach Marc Hines said Hare’s work ethic helped him earn a scholarship to
    "Corbin has been a letterman the past three years and he really got the job done the last two and a half,” Hines said. “He’s a hard worker and I think he’s going to have a lot of success at the next level. When we have a big game, we give him the ball – like that big district win over Blue Springs South last season.”
    Hare said Rockhurst offered everything he was looking for in a college.
    “Rockhurst has a good baseball program, it’s close to home and it has a great nursing
    program, and that’s the field I want to go into,” Hare said.
    Boys soccer coach Michael Palermo said Byrd has all the attributes of a great player and leader.
    “First, he plays his best soccer against our best opponents,” Palermo said. “He plays left
    back, and you don’t get a lot of notoriety at that position. But he does all the things that help you win.
    “And second, he has a great attitude. He is coachable and he always wants to learn and
    Girls soccer coach Doug McLagan had a bit of fun with AuBuchon before she signed her
    “I talked with Brittany before the signing and I told her I was going to liken her to David
    Beckham,” McLagan said. “And she said, ‘That’s good because he’s hot.’ Well, I wasn’t making the comparison because he’s ‘hot,’ I was making it because he is a brilliant technician and Brittany has brilliant technical skills.
    “She is a complete player, the glue of our defense.”
    Scholl has been the starting goalie the past three years, and despite their .500 record
    over that period, McLagan said she has made a huge impact.
    “Alyssa allowed us to stay in many of our games,” McLagan said. “We are a .500 team
    and she has 12 shutouts. What makes a great goalie is stopping the shots you should stop. But she also stops the shots that should go in the back of the net.”
    Jennifer Reeder believes this will be a breakout year for Bissell, who is the No. 2 pole
    vaulter in school history who also was an all-state diver.
    “Pole vaulting isn’t a sport where a freshman comes up and says, ‘Coach, I’ve been
    vaulting since I was 5,’” Reeder said, chuckling. “Cali worked hard to make herself a pole
    “Our school record is 11-6 and she’s vaulted 11 feet several times. The Kansas City area is so strong in vaulting that last year she vaulted 11 feet and didn’t make it to state. An 11-0 vault at state would have earned a medal.
    Page 3 of 3 - “This year, she’s going to make it to state and we’re going to see her name on that all-
    state banner.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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