Editor’s note: If any athletes who signed to play college sports are missing from this list, contact Sports Editor Darren Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (435) 882-0050, ext. 5123.
At least 23 just-graduated student-athletes from across Tooele County will take their talents to the collegiate level next season, having signed national Letters-of-Intent with colleges and universities from coast to coast.
Tooele High is sending 10 athletes off to play college sports, while Grantsville had nine signees, Stansbury had three and Wendover had one. Each of these athletes was a standout and earned the opportunity to take a big next step in their academic and athletic careers.
Grantsville’s nine signees were profiled in the July 16 edition of the Transcript Bulletin. Here are the athletes from Stansbury, Tooele and Wendover.
Stansbury High School
Carson Belnap, track/cross country, Brigham Young University — Belnap capped his high school career in spectacular fashion, winning the Class 4A boys cross country individual title while helping Stansbury win the team championship on the heels of winning the 4A 1,600-meter title during the 2019 track season. He went on to finish ninth at the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals in December before signing with the Cougars.
Josh Oblad, track/cross country, Weber State University — Oblad, who finished third at the Class 4A state cross country meet, became the first male athlete in Stansbury history with a pair of state championships to his name. One of SHS’ most decorated athletes, he’ll look to add a new chapter to his legacy in Ogden, signing with the Division I Wildcats of the Big Sky Conference.
Peyton Thevenot, men’s golf, John A. Logan College (Illinois) — An accomplished junior golfer, Thevenot finished in the top 25 at the high school state championships three times during his high school career, including a tie for 10th place his junior year. John A. Logan is ranked as one of the top junior-college programs in the United States, and Thevenot figures to play a big role in keeping the Volunteers at that level.
Tooele High School
Bryerly Avina, softball, Colorado Mesa University — Avina earned Second Team All-State recognition as a junior after helping propel Tooele to its 10th state softball championship in the spring of 2019 with clutch hitting in the championship series. That made her a perfect fit for the Division II Mavericks, with the Grand Junction, Colorado-based school adding her to one of the top programs in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Alexis Bender, softball, Colby Community College (Kansas) — Bender figured to play a big role in Tooele’s title defense this past spring, but the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite her limited varsity playing time, she was able to make enough of an impression with her work ethic for Colby to sign her to a national Letter-of-Intent to pitch and play first base and outfield.
Clay Freeman, baseball, Treasure Valley Community College (Oregon) — A key piece of a loaded Tooele pitching staff, Freeman burst on the scene as a sophomore and never looked back and helped turn a struggling Buffaloes baseball program into a region-title contender during his career. He will join former Tooele High teammate Dalton Harris at the next level in Ontario, Oregon.
Nukuluve Helu, football, Brigham Young University — Helu was the focal point of the Buffaloes’ offensive attack, and nobody found an answer for him. In 10 games, he rushed for 1,178 yards and eight touchdowns, and he also had nine catches for 85 yards and a score, earning him All-State honorable mention recognition as a senior. That led Cougars coach Kalani Sitake to bring Helu to Provo, providing a boost to BYU’s rushing attack.
Makenna McCloy, track and field, University of Utah — McCloy will be competing against some of the best the country has to offer when she joins the Utes in Pac-12 Conference competition. She finished third in the 100-meter dash and sixth in the 200 at the 2019 Class 4A state track and field meet, and signing a Division I scholarship was the culmination of a dream that began when she was a sophomore.
Brett Porthan, baseball, Dixie State University — Porthan achieved his goal of playing for a Division I program, as he will join the Trailblazers in St. George as they make the jump to college athletics’ top level. As a junior, he was one of the top all-around players in Class 4A, allowing 21 runs in 61 2/3 innings on the mound with 68 strikeouts while hitting .369 with 17 RBIs at the plate for the Buffaloes.
Mason Tate, men’s soccer, Utah State University Eastern — Tate was a standout midfielder for an up-and-coming squad at Tooele High that has a promising season cut short this spring. He also had a successful run with local club Elite FC. He was able to parlay that playing experience into an opportunity to continue his soccer career at USU Eastern in Price, where he figures to play a key role for the Eagles.
Gavin Ware, football, Sterling College (Kansas) — Ware was a star on both sides of the ball for the Buffaloes, serving as a Swiss Army knife of sorts on offense and defense. He joins a successful NAIA program in Sterling, Kansas, as the Warriors are coming off a 7-3 season and will no doubt make use of Ware’s athleticism and never-say-die attitude that served him well as a three-sport star at THS.
Ashlee Walker, women’s soccer, Yakima Valley College (Washington) — Ashlee Walker, who starred as an outside midfielder for THS and club team TC United, is headed to central Washington to play for the Yaks after 14 years of competitive soccer growing up. She is looking forward to studying dental hygiene and furthering her soccer career alongside her twin sister, Raegan.
Raegan Walker, women’s soccer, Yakima Valley College (Washington) — Raegan Walker will fill a key defensive midfield role for the Yaks, joining with her sister to form a dynamic duo thanks to the chemistry they’ve formed through years of playing competitively together. She was a defensive stalwart during her time at THS and with TC United. She, too, is excited about the opportunities YVC offers, both on and off the field.
Wendover High School
Alana Henderson, track and field, Southwest Oregon Community College — Henderson, Wendover High’s co-salutatorian, will run the 100-meter dash as well as the 200 and 400 for SOCC in Coos Bay, Oregon. A multi-sport athlete, Henderson finished third in the 400, fourth in the 100 and seventh in the 200 at the 2019 Class 1A state track and field meet, and also competed in the relays for the Wildcats as they finished sixth in the team standings.