For four Mason City athletes, Wednesday afternoon was full of pictures with family, hugs from mom and dad, and big decisions.
As each of the four signed the piece of paper in front of a large gathered crowd inside Mason City High School, it was confirmation that they have each excelled in their respective sports.
Wrestlers Cullan and Colby Schriever, baseball player Avery Mellman, and basketball player Anna Deets signed their national letters of intent, with all signing on at Division I colleges.
Colby and Cullan Schriever
The Schriever twins sat in front of the Mason City backdrop, a University of Iowa flag hanging from the table in front of them. For both of them, Wednesday represented the culmination of a lifelong dream.
Their mother took pictures of her sons, and framed photos of Colby and Cullen as small children sat on a nearby table.
“When I was little, I was always a huge Hawkeye fan,” Colby said. “Right when I started to get recruited, I knew I wanted to be a Hawkeye. It was always a dream of mine.”
Both gave credit to coach TJ Sebolt, the coach at Sebolt Academy and a former Iowa wrestler, for helping both to wrestle at a Division I level. Both have competed at the academy since childhood.
“Sebolt Wrestling academy, I’ve wrestled there since I was little, I wouldn’t be half the wrestler I am without T.J. [He] brought me from one of the worst wrestlers you’ve ever seen to where I am today. That is fact.”
Cullan, a two-time Iowa state champion wrestler, as well as 2018 junior freestyle National champion, said that the two of them always knew that wherever they would go, they would go together.
“There wasn’t any debate from the start about where we were going,” Cullan said. “We knew we were going to Iowa. The plan was always to go to Iowa together. There wasn’t anything else in the conversation.”
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After his sophomore season ended with a severe leg injury, Mason City baseball player Avery Mellman wasn’t always sure he would be able to work his way back to full strength. But on Wednesday, as he signed his letter of intent to play baseball at South Dakota State University, Mellman reflected on the journey.
“I definitely persevered, and got where I wanted to be,” Mellman said. “It’s still not at 100 percent, but I keep growing, and baseball is where I fit best. It was a great choice for me.”
This year, in his first year back from injury, Mellman hit .310, and slugged .550, and finished with an on-base percentage of .437 as the Mohawks won 25 games.
Mellman gave plenty of credit to head coach Troy Rood and the rest of the baseball coaching staff with helping him attain a such high level of play. The program uses baseball technology like RAPSODO, Yakkertech, and Trackman to help their players analyze their strengths and weaknesses, much like many collegiate and professional teams do.
With one season remaining before he goes off to college, Mellman seems excited to see what he can do.
“It’s tremendous,” Mellman said. “We just got a Yakkertech, and we have HitTrax with coach (Adam) Gold at The Yard. It’s amazing. Not only is it down to the detail, but it creates more fun for us players to look at that and see our numbers.”
When he visited South Dakota State on his recruiting visit, Mellman says that immediately took to the coaches, players, and the Jackrabbits style of play.
“It’s very simple,” Mellman said. “It’s very down to the core of baseball. They don’t take stuff too far, they concentrate, and they just have fun.”
Anna Deets is the quiet type, but she spoke on Wednesday before signing her national letter of intent to play basketball at Western Illinois University. She thanked her parents, her coaches, and her teammates, who all crowded around for a team photo, over a dozen of them lined up behind her.
For Deets, the friendly and fun atmosphere that she experienced on her visit convinced her to sign up to be a Leatherneck.
“They were really talkative,” Deets said. “They got me to talk, which is kind of a lot. All the girls I met with really love them, so it was perfect.”
For any player, being appreciated by a coaching staff is always a plus, and when the Leathernecks coaching staff told Deets that they thought she hadn’t received enough attention from other programs, she was sold.
They really like my shooting,” Deets said. “They told me that I was under-looked, and that was big that they realized that. They said that I could make a difference in their program, and that was really big for me.”