Jonathan Gosserand, the winningest wrestler in the history of Truman High School, and Reid Titus, the second all-time leading scorer in the storied Patriots basketball program, were joined by six classmates in an early-morning collegiate signing session in the Truman auditorium Thursday.
Joining Gosserand, who will attend Missouri Baptist in St. Louis; and Titus, who will attend the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.; were Trent DuRall, baseball, Hannibal-LaGrange University; Collin McClaran, soccer, Graceland University; Sydney Paialii, basketball, Washburn University; Braden Thomas, basketball, Missouri Baptist; Shay Tolbert, softball, Johnson County Community College; and Phillip Woolsey, football, University of St. Mary.
“I feel so blessed,” said Gosserand, who won 131 matches and was a four-time Brute Nationals All-American. “I never made it to state, and that was a disappointment, but I am happy with my career at Truman and feel like my best wrestling is still to come. I am so excited about wrestling at Missouri Baptist.”
Titus, who is second only to Will Palmer in career scoring with 1,561 points, was a perennial member of The Examiner’s All-Area team who holds the school record for 3-pointers with 161. He averaged 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.1 steals per game his senior year. He was selected to the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association all-star team.
“This is a big day,” Titus said. “But I can’t believe my high school career is over – it went by so fast. But I’m excited about the next chapter in my life. I really liked the coaches at Saint Mary, they seemed to care about me as much as a person as they did a player. And Saint Mary is far enough away I’ll feel like I’m going to college, but close enough my parents and family can come watch me play.”
Truman coach Billy Guinnee, who recently announced his retirement after spending 25 years at Truman (13 as the head coach, 12 as an assistant), said, “I still remember when he was hitting 3-pointers and our crowd was yelling, ‘He’s a freshman!’ He’s been a great player for a long time. He made it special to be the head coach at Truman. And he is going to have a great career at Saint Mary.”
Eric Holm, the Truman activities director, said signing day is an event he savors.
“This isn’t the end, this is the beginning for these special student-athletes,” Holm said. “This is one of the biggest and best days of the year for me, and for them and their parents.
Truman soccer coach Jared Byrne praised McClaran, a member of The Examiner’s 2014 and 2015 All-Area teams.
“It’s cool to see a kid work so hard for four years and be rewarded like this,” Byrne said. “Graceland is getting a special player and person.”
Baseball coach John Eglich praised DuRall, who made The Examiner’s 2015 All-Area team.
“He’s a great kid, a lot of fun to be around and a good character guy,” Eglich said. “We’re going to miss him.”
Paialii at one time held the Truman single-game record for 3-pointers with seven, and was an all-conference selection the past two years, along with being named to the GKCBCA all-star team.
“As a sophomore, she replaced an injured player and played a big role in a 17-game winning streak and district title,” Truman girls basketball coach Steve Cassity said. “She was a big reason for a lot of our success the past three years.”
Guinnee believes Thomas’ best basketball is still to come.
“Braden is one of the smartest basketball players I’ve coached,” Guinnee said. “Whether he started or came in off the bench, you knew what to expect from him. He’s going to be a great fit for Missouri Baptist – he’ll work hard and do everything the coaches ask of him. We’re going to see some great things from him in college.”
Tolbert, the daughter of Van Horn High School football and wrestling coach Jeff Tolbert, hit .353 with 12 stolen bases and 30 runs scored. She was an academic all-state performer who was praised by first-year Truman softball coach Dan Harper.
“She’s had several coaches while she played here at Truman and I am so grateful I got to coach her this year,” Harper said. “She was our team leader – she kept the team together when things weren’t going as well as we would have liked them to. She did it all this year on and off the field.”
Football coach Gregg Webb, who has transformed the Patriots into a winning program in just three seasons, praised Woolsey for being a big part of the team’s success. Woolsey holds the Truman record for the longest punt (60 yards) in school history.
“We threw Phillip in there as a sophomore and he took his lumps, but he never backed down and played some great football for this program,” Webb said. “Saint Mary is getting a gold mine in Phillip Woolsey.”