Local athletes get exposure at Shawnee Heights Junior Combine

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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TECUMSEH, Kan. (WIBW) - Time to show off.

“It feels great to compete,” Jarin Sanders, Shawnee Heights running back, said. “I know a lot of people out here from around the city. A Lot of my friends out here. A lot of my teammates. It’s a fun opportunity.”

Run fast. Turn quick. Jump far.

“Do the best I can,” Raphael Cooney, Rossville linebacker, said. “Can’t be mad at that.”

Nearly 100 local athletes hit the field at Shawnee Heights. The events called a Junior Combine. Oncoming seniors competed in a variety of drills to showcase their athleticism in front of college teams.

“We’re going to have representatives from the Division-II level, the NAIA-level and Junior Colleges in Kansas here today,” Jason Swift, Shawnee Heights head football coach, said. “They get a chance to show what they can do in front of these college coaches. It’s just another way of exposing our great football players in this area.”

Getting a chance to perform in front of colleges is an opportunity this class lost due to COVID-19. During the peak of the pandemic last year, a lot of combines had been closed off. Meaning these athletes lost a chance to be seen by the next level.

“Because of the pandemic, it’s even harder for these high school athletes to get an opportunity to be recognized by the colleges.” Swift said.

“Not much exposure opportunities last summer,” Casen Stallbaumer, Seaman receiver, said. “It’s great to get out here in front of all of these coaches and just show what we can do.”

“I mean it’s everything,” Cooney said. “There’s a bunch of coaches out here from all different types of colleges. Trying to see where I’m at and see if I’m good enough to play ball at the next level.”

And after seeing two athletes from Topeka be selected in the NFL Draft - it’s clear there’s talent in the area. They just needed that opportunity to shine.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of talented people out here,” Sanders said. “We just need to be showcased so we can get out to the world and the world can see us.”

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