WATCH: Wyoming News Now Early Signing Day Special

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 12:48 AM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Wednesday was the Early National Signing Day for high school seniors around the state.

At East High School, three Lady T-Birds put pen to paper. Gracie Oswald is joining Black Hills State for softball, Taliah Morris is headed to Wyoming for track, and Gracie Craig also to Black Hills State for Cross Country.

Craig has been a key contributor for East; she powered her way to a new personal record in the 5000 meter run this cross country season-- getting down to 20:05.40. She participates in all three running seasons, placing 14th at indoor states last year in the 3200 while holding an outdoor PR of 12:47.63. Competing with the Yellow Jackets will feel a little familiar for her.

”So a couple of my future teammates were actually my past teammates too, so that’s pretty fun. But I met both the main and assistant coach on my visit, and they were super sweet and nice and I really like them,” Craig said.

Morris will bring in several accolades on her way to Laramie, including six career All-State selections between indoor and outdoor track. She won three individual championships at last year’s indoor states in the long jump, 55 meter, and 200 meter dashes, and has owned outdoor long jump her entire high school career. She three-peated in that event and posts a PR of 19 feet, 8.5 inches. Morris said she’s been preparing for college competition for years.

”I’ve been ready to graduate. I’ve been ready to just go forward with my life. I feel like I was just mature enough to move on. Like I’m just ready to go be in college, set the standards for myself, have all the facilities and all the great coaching they do have up at Wyoming, and just take it from there. See what I can do,” Morris said.

On the softball field Oswald has been a leader since day one. She’s twice an All-State selection and hit a clutch grand slam at the state tournament this past season to get East to the program’s first state championship appearance. Between high school and club competition with Cheyenne Extreme she’s compiled a whopping .495 batting average with 201 RBIs and 21 long balls to go with it. A crucial role in her decision to join Black Hills State was the blueprint laid out by her future coach.

”The coach was my biggest factor for choosing it. She has a plan for our program, and she has a record of flipping programs around, making them winning teams. So I was just really excited to get to be a part of it,” Oswald said.

Over in Burns, Jordan Griess made it official that she will be a Cowgirl soccer player. During the season, she plays at East; last year Griess found twine seven times, but really made an impact as a distributor with 15 assists. That total was good for second in 4A, and helped earn herself an all state nod. She’s also earned the honor of captain twice already. Griess is a three sport athlete as well; she runs cross country for Burns, and last basketball season won 2A Southeast Player of the Year and helped Burns capture their first state title in school history. With the sport she’ll continue at the next level, she said her sisters played a big role in her pursuit of collegiate competition.

”They’ve always been one that I can fall back on especially when I’m struggling with sports. Having one of my sisters at least come back and being a coach for me was a lot. Because I knew that I had someone that I could really talk to. Going through anything that I needed to talk about, especially with soccer,” Griess said.

The capital city had another future Wyoming athlete at Central; Bridger Brokaw is set to run track in Laramie, where he’ll provide a boost for the Cowboys’ distance running department. Brokaw has multiple All-State honors in each running season of the year, however his best event to date in high school has been the 800 meter dash. He took silver twice in the event in the past year, and also finished top ten in cross country just a few weeks ago. Brokaw hopes to run the 800 and 1600 at UW; his PR’s-- both outdoor-- are 1:55.67 in the former and 4:24.21 in the latter. He said being a Cowboy means a lot for a few personal relationships.

“Well both my parents graduated from the University of Wyoming. We’ve always been big Cowboy fans forever. And my friend runs there at the university who I was teammates with, and him and I have been super close forever. So it made me kind of want to get back with him and reunite,” Brokaw said.

At Laramie High School, three Lady Plainsmen signed the dotted line. Kylin Shipman is going to Regis University to hoop, Kaylee Kern is playing soccer for Bluefield State, and Maddy Stucky will take the trip down the road and join the Cowgirls’ volleyball program.

Stucky just helped lead the Lady Plainsmen to the state championship last weekend-- the third title victory of her illustrious high school career. Back in January she was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Wyoming. The setter also staggeringly compiled over 3,000 career assists, and has proven to be effective in every phase of the game. She’s ecstatic to put on for her home state and hometown at UW.

”I’m really excited for being an ambassador for the whole state. I am a kid from Laramie, and I get to show my whole state some love. I wanted to stay in state which was super awesome. This is where I should be you know? I’m super excited for all of the support from the community and all that,” Stucky said.

Kern was a part of the attack that helped Laramie to a 13-4-1 record and a fifth place finish in 2023. She scored eight times over the course of the year while adding two assists to her season stat line, and those offensive stats were good for top 15 in goals and top 20 in total points. Kern said that Big Blue will be getting a player who is eager to contribute both on and off the pitch.

”I’m definitely like a very attacking player. I definitely bring a lot even as a teammate, just being supportive and kind of as that outlet for other people. And then just being a super powerful, strong player on the field just to help dictate the game. I think I have a lot to bring in,” Kern said.

Shipman was among the 4A leaders on the court in a couple categories; her 3.4 assists per game were good for fourth and 13.6 points per game were ninth in the class. Along with assists, she led Laramie making 72% of her free throws, was second in points per game and third with 53 steals. That performance over the 2022-2023 season was good enough for an all conference nod. Picking Regis was easy for Shipman because she felt an instant click with the program.

”So when I went on some of my visits and stuff they were just super nice to me automatically, and made me feel welcome. The coaches are constantly texting me and making sure I’m good and keeping up with things. So yeah it was nice,” Shipman said.

Chayse Schierkolk made her mark in girls swimming and diving this year at Kelly Walsh, and she’ll be staying in the state as she signed to swim for UW. She showed dominance at the state meet this year, where she managed to repeat as the 50m freestyle state champion as well as capturing the 100m freestyle for the second time. Not only that, but she was also a part of the 200m free relay team that took first in the event. Her performance caught the eyes of many, as she won both Athlete of the Meet for the 4A State Meet and the Athlete of the Year for 4A swim (she also did the same last year). On top of those achievements, Schierkolk made her way to becoming a 4-time all-state swimmer as well. Looking back on her career, one accomplishment stands out above the rest.

”When we got to state, you know, everyone we knew we were gonna race it and have fun, but it’s also the thought of like ‘oh we beat Laramie, they won like the state meet like seven times,’ and then we just won it for ourselves, so that was probably my favorite memory,” Schierkolk said.

Congratulations to all of the athletes across the Cowboy State who turned their dreams into reality on Wednesday.