Plans aplenty for graduating athletes |

Plans aplenty for graduating athletes

Parents crowd in for photos as 14 Steamboat Springs High School athletes are recognized for their achievements and their plans to compete next year at their chosen colleges.
Joel Reichenberger

2016 Steamboat seniors and their college choices

Jackson Salyer, Soccer, Colorado Mesa University

Madeline Labor, volleyball, Regis University

Ocoee Wilson, soccer, Dallas Baptist University

Brittney Starks, volleyball, Cornell College

Finn O'Connell, Nordic skiing, University of Vermont

Kathleen O'Connell, Nordic skiing, Montana State University

Samantha Terranova, swimming, University of San Diego

Jackson Draper, lacrosse, Whittier College

Zachary Holm, football, University of Wyoming

Jordan Floyd, Nordic skiing, Montana State University

Maritza Wiedel, volleyball, St. Olaf College

Abigail Wiedel, volleyball, St. Olaf College

Alexandra Tumminello, cross country, Wheaton College

Simon Zink, Nordic skiing, University of Denver

— It wasn’t a case of a dream lost for Steamboat Springs High School senior Finn O’Connell. It was more a case of a dream swapped.

O’Connell grew up with the most typical of Ski Town U.S.A. fantasies — making the U.S. Ski Team, competing in World Cups and some day, the Olympics. He came closer than many, too, excelling in Nordic combined.

When he sat down two years ago to really consider that future, however, he wasn’t quite sure he liked what he saw in front of him.

So, he switched, dropping the jumping element of Nordic combined and focusing solely on skiing, and now, as he prepares to graduate, he’s well on his way to achieving that new dream.

“It was pretty hard, because I was at such a strong level in Nordic combined,” O’Connell said. “Still, I knew after high school, I wanted to go to college. Nordic combined, you go out to Park City, train with the team and see if you make it, but in Nordic skiing, I could still get that college experience.”

He plans to do it by skiing at University of Vermont.

“I weighed my options, and I always knew I wanted to be an aerospace engineer,” he said. “I wanted to get started on that right away.”

The big collegiate signing deadlines have come and gone, but Tuesday at Steamboat Springs High School, Sailors administrators took a moment to recognize the huge number of graduating athletes headed for college sports programs.

That meant plenty of athletes signing in more traditional college sports. Maddie Labor, Brittney Starks, Maritza Wiedel and Abigail Wiedel are all moving on from the school’s league champion volleyball team to continue to play the sport elsewhere around the country.

Ocoee Wilson, goalie for the SSHS league-champ soccer team, which plays at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lewis Palmer in the Class 4A state quarterfinals, is headed to play soccer at Dallas Baptist University.

Zach Holm plans to play football at University of Wyoming. Alex Tumminello will run cross country at Wheaton College. Jack Salyer will play soccer at Colorado Mesa University. Samantha Terranova will swim at University of San Diego, and Jackson Draper will play lacrosse at Whittier College.

Steamboat being Steamboat, there are a handful of athletes taking paths similar to O’Connell, too, all in Nordic skiing.

Kathleen O’Connell and Jordi Floyd will compete at Montana State University, and Simon Zink plans to ski for the defending national champions at University of Denver.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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