SPRINGFIELD — Two area fall sports standouts have made their college decisions, and the seniors are taking their talents to the top level of college sports.
Kenton Ridge golfer Clay Portz visited Northern Kentucky University last week and instantly fell in love with a school that’s making the transition from NCAA Division II to Division I. He has made a verbal commitment and will sign in April.
Greenon runner MacKenzie McMillin signed with Bowling Green State University last week.
Portz will receive a $12,000 athletic scholarship, which will cover his tuition, for his freshman year. He also considered Ohio Dominican, Findlay and the University of Kentucky.
“I went down, and I just loved everything about (Northern Kentucky),” he said. “They’re going to be playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference. It’s going to be a great opportunity. You’re going to be playing against the best of the best on some great courses. We’re going to play a tournament in Jacksonville at the TPC Sawgrass. And I’ll still get the close-to-home tournaments too.”
Portz finished third overall at the Division II state tournament last fall and helped lead the Cougars to their first state championship.
“I think that helped a lot,” said Portz, who plans to major in sports business with goals of being a PGA professional. “That showed a little bit of my leadership qualities. A lot of the coaches commented on the fact that I went four years and didn’t lose a single (dual) match.”
McMillin was the News-Sun Clark County Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2011. She won the Clark County and Central Buckeye Conference meets and won the Division II district championship. She finished seventh at state.
McMillin, an undecided major, said she will receive a $7,500 partial athletic scholarship. She also considered Wittenberg and Ohio Northern.
“It was actually a pretty easy decision for me,” she said. “Coach (Lou) Snelling recruited me, and he was definitely one of the heavier recruiters. I love the campus. I love the team. It was kind of a good fit. I knew.”
McMillin said picking a D-I school wasn’t a necessity, but she’s glad it worked out that way.
“I want to go and compete at the highest level of competition and step up my game and improve my team,” she said.
• Shawnee seniors Brad Jarzab and Joel Schilke each signed letters of intent to play football at NAIA University of Saint Francis (Ind.). The Cougars are coached by Shawnee grad Kevin Donley.
• Emmanuel Christian Academy senior Chloe West signed a letter of intent to play soccer at D-II Cedarville University on Tuesday.
• Greenon senior Josh Bannick has committed to play football at the University of Mount Union.
Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0351 or David.Jablonski@coxinc.com.