Warrior athletes sign four-year letters

Student athletes from five different athletic programs at Indian Hills Community College signed their four-year letters of intent on Thursday afternoon at the Hellyer Student Life Center in Ottumwa. Warrior baseball teammates (standing from left to right) Jack Payne, Gavin Hinckley, Arturo Rodriguez and Douglas Rojas joined (seated from left to right) IHCC track sprinter Damon Allen, cross-country runner Colton Glosser, softball player Kennedy Preston and volleyball hitter Precious Daley to sign their respective letters. Payne signed with the University of Central Missouri, Rojas signed with West Texas A&M University, Allen signed with the University of Iowa, Glosser signed with the University of Tennessee-Martin, Preston signed with Missouri Western State University and Daley signed with the University of North Carolina-Pembroke while Rodriguez and Hinckley each signed with Nicholls State University.

OTTUMWA — Despite earning all-state accolades in his senior season of cross-country at Pekin High School, Colton Glosser still wasn't sure he could compete at the junior college level.

Precious Daley was content on simply being a student athlete, figuring her days as a competitive volleyball player had come to an end after her senior season at Des Moines Roosevelt.

Both have found success as student athletes at Indian Hills Community College. Both were part of a big day for the IHCC athletic department as coaches and teammates gathered at the Hellyer Student Life Center on Thursday to watch eight fellow Warriors sign with four-year schools.

Glosser, the lone representative of IHCC's cross-country program, signed his letter of intent to compete next season at the University of Tennessee-Martin after helping the Warrior men secure a 12th-place finish in the NJCAA National championship meet. Daley inked her letter to play volleyball next season at the University of North Carlina-Pembroke after helping the Warriors twice come within a game of qualifying for the NJCAA Division I national volleyball tournament.

It was a gratifying day for all eight athletes, but especially for Glosser and Daley each of whom never would have imagined they would have this type of opportunity less than two years ago.

"I walked on here at Indian Hills. I really wasn't that good in high school compared to what it takes to run at this level," Glosser said. "I've improved a lot. I came here to get better and get my AA (Associates of Arts) degree. It got me somewhere nice. I'm pretty grateful for that."

It's not that far-fetched to imagine Glosser and Daley both simply spending the past two years as one of the hundreds of students that go to class each day at Indian Hills had things worked out differently. That was certainly Daley's plan originally before she sent out one last e-mail just to see if any coach would be interested in the all-CIML Metro standout.

"Coach Michel was pretty much the last coach I checked with. I was content that I wasn't going to e-mail anyone else and, if it didn't work out, I was done," Daley said. "Coach e-mailed me back, I came on the visit and I instantly loved it.

"I wasn't going to play volleyball in college, so it was really exciting for me just to sign and get that opportunity to play beyond high school here at Indian Hills. "This time, I knew I was planning on signing somewhere. It does feel good to get that weight off and know where I'm going."

Kennedy Preston became the first member of the Indian Hills softball team to sign her four-year letter. The former Carlisle Wildcat will be headed to Missouri Western State University after wrapping up her upcoming sophomore season on the diamond with the Warriors this spring.

"I felt like I had a really good bond with the coaching staff. The facilities are incredible. It really felt like a home away from home," Preston said of Missouri Western State. "Their head coach (Joe Yegge) is in his first season. He had been the coach at Kirkwood and I had talked to him a little bit when I was in high school before he took the job as assistant coach at DePaul. I just felt like the JUCO route brought us back together."

Damoy Allen truly embraced the spirit of the IHCC Signing Day event, making his announcement official by unveiling a University of Iowa t-shirt before signing his letter to run track and field next season for the Hawkeyes. Allen proudly put on a Iowa hat after signing his letter, keeping the New York native home in the Hawkeye State as a student athlete for his junior and senior years as a college athlete.

"I knew where I wanted to go all along. I didn't have multiple hats to choose from. I only brought one with me," Allen said. "I felt like I connected with Iowa and their coaches. They know what they're goal is. Their goals are my goals as well. I want to be part of that tradition of helping them continue to win (Big Ten) conference titles and continue to be part of a winning team."

No Indian Hills team had more representation for the Signing Day event than the Warrior baseball program. Gavin Hinckley, Jack Payne, Arturo Rodriguez and Douglas Rojas all stepped to the table together to sign their respective letters to four-year schools.

Payne will be headed to the University of Central Missouri while Rojas will head further south, signing with West Texas A&M University. Hinckley and Rodriguez, meanwhile, will have two more years together as teammates as both signed to play college baseball at Nicholls State University.

The four IHCC teammates still have plenty of goals in mind for the spring as the Warriors look to make consecutive trips to the JUCO World Series. After 17 years without a national tournament berth, Indian Hills knocked off three top-five teams during postseason play last May beating fifth-ranked Iowa Western for a regional title, top-ranked Wabash Valley for a district championship and third-ranked Crowder in their World Series opener.

“They know they've really started to put Indian Hills back on the map," IHCC head baseball coach Matthew Torrez said. "I feel like they've done a great job of it.”

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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