Three Neosho High School standouts signed letters of intent on Wednesday at NHS to continue their careers on the collegiate level.
While all three athletes are multi-sport standouts, Ryan Taylor celebrated his birthday in style by signing with Maryville University (Maryville, Mo.) to run track, Derrick Shadwick committed to Graceland University for football, and Matty Liedtke penned with Hannibal-Lagrange to play soccer.
Taylor, an all-conference and all-district performer on the football field, said he always thought he wanted to go to college and play football until he stepped on the track for the first time in eighth grade.
"Since then, that's all I've wanted to do is run track in college," Taylor said. "I've got the opportunity to do it at a fine institution not only athletically, but they're the No. 1 retention rate in the NCAA for student-bound athletes staying in college. I'm really happy, it's a dream come true."
A district champion in the 400 meter run and one of the senior leaders for the boys' track team, Taylor, the son of Jim and Linda Taylor, said the support of his friends and family have helped shape him into the athlete he is.
"I'd like to thank all of my family for supporting me, and I'd like to thank Bill McDaniel for keeping me straightened out over the years," he said.
As a five-time all-conference, three-time all-district and three-time sectional qualifier, Neosho coach Zach Nelson said Taylor will be counted on heavily again this season.
"It's something he's always wanted to do is run high school and college track," Nelson said. "He's really worked hard and focused on it. He's been there every day this preseason leading our team. We're really excited about him leading our team."
As a lineman on the football team, Shadwick and the rest of his comrades often go unnoticed when it comes to postseason awards, but Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, clearly saw plenty to like in the big man. He's expected to see action at center, or possibly tight end for the Yellowjackets next season.
Like Taylor, Shadwick, the son of Tina Shadwick, is also a standout in track and field as a thrower, as well as being a member of the NHS cheer squad. But he admitted football was his calling.
When it came to scouting, however, Shadwick did just as much groundwork on Graceland.
"I'm actually really exited," Shadwick said. "Going into the season I was hoping for it, I was wanting to go to Graceland. They called me and I went up there for a visit and everything turned out to be very good. They gave me an offer and I took it."
As written in a previous edition of the Neosho Daily News, Liedtke inked with Hannibal-LaGrange (Hannibal, Mo.) earlier this month in Hannibal, though Wednesday marked her formal signing in front of friends and family at NHS. She'll play goalkeeper for the NAIA Division I squad, headed by coach Jason Nichols.
Page 2 of 2 - Said Nichols in a prepared statement, "Matty's size combined with her mental toughness makes her a goalkeeper with strong potential."
A three-sport athlete at NHS (volleyball and basketball, as well) Liedtke, the daughter of Matt and Jerah Liedtke, said she chose Hannibal over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and the University of Central Oklahoma.
"I think it'll be a wonderful experience," Liedtke said. "It's a good school, a good Christian school, so it's based on good Christian values. Hannibal is pretty far, I'm definitely going to miss home, but I think it's going to be a good experience."
Liedtke, who is in her second year at goalie for coach Steve Schnackenberg's Lady Wildcats, is a four-year performer who earned second team all-conference and second team all-district honors last season.