WHS students continue athletic careers in college

Austin Sarber signs for Belmont Abbey, with WHS basketball coach Dave Hodges by his side.

By Braden Ravenscraft

Sun Intern

This year has been a success for Wickenburg High School sports. The Wrangler football team hosted a playoff game for the first time in 10 years. The WHS boys soccer team won a game in the state playoffs, which had not been done since 2011. On top of that, the Wranglers boys basketball team won the 3A West region, a feat they had not accomplished since 2001, in addition to winning a thrilling overtime game and qualifying for the Elite Eight in the state tournament. Much of this athletic success is due to a talented crop of seniors, many of whom are continuing on with their athletic career as they pursue higher education.

Michael Mindnich signed with the University of Redlands to play football. Redlands, located in Southern California, competes at the Division III level. Mindnich, who transferred to WHS from Sehome High School in Bellingham, Wash., last spring, quarterbacked the Wranglers to an 8-3 record and their most successful season in 10 years. He passed for 1,346 yards, the third most for a WHS QB since 2000. Mindnich also played point guard for the highly successful Wrangler basketball team and pitched for the baseball team. While at the University of Redlands, he will pursue a degree in accounting.

Katie Ames has signed with Nyack College in New York to play volleyball and jump for the Nyack track and field team. Nyack competes at the Division II level. Ames was a key starter on the WHS volleyball team that finished third in the 3A West region. Just a few weeks ago, she finished 18th in triple jump at the track and field state championships. She is majoring in nursing with a minor in Biblical studies.

Austin Sarber committed to Belmont Abbey College to play basketball. The Division II school is located in Belmont, NC. Sarber started at center for the high-achieving Wrangler basketball team, earning second team all-region honors for his efforts. In addition to basketball, he also threw for the WHS track and field team for four years. While at Belmont Abbey, he will pursue his criminal justice degree.

Jackson Tillapaugh has committed to Wilmington College, a Division III program in Ohio, to throw for their track and field team and play basketball. Tillapaugh starred at forward for coach Dave Hodge’s successful Wrangler basketball team. In addition to leading the team in scoring, Tillapaugh was named first team all state for the 3A conference. This spring, he finished 14th in discus at the state track and field championship. He enters Wilmington’s honors program to major in exercise science, with plans to get both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years.

Masaada Johnson has signed with Pima Community College to run and jump for their track and field team. Although she played on the volleyball and basketball teams at WHS, Johnson starred on the track, qualifying for state in four events this past spring. She finished 11th in both the 100-meter dash and the long jump, peaking with her sixth place finish in triple jump. After two years at Pima, she hopes to transfer to a four year college and pursue an engineering degree while continuing her track and field career.

Gabriela Acuna has committed to Glendale Community College to throw for their track and field team. Acuna ran cross country and track for four years, bouncing around different track and field events until she began to focus on throwing last year. Specializing in javelin, she will throw for GCC at both indoor and outdoor events. After completing her associate’s degree in science, Acuna plans to transfer somewhere to continue throwing and working towards her doctorate of pharmacy.

Other athletes that are interested in continuing their athletic careers after high school are Chris Smith (soccer), Emersyn Forbrook (volleyball), and Alex Gill (softball).

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