TUMWATER — For quite some time, Brooke Feldmeier had kept her friends and classmates in the dark on where she would head to college to compete in track and field.
Feldmeier, a Tumwater High School senior who was one of the West Coast’s most sought-after recruits, would occasionally wear items from all five of her official college visits to keep everyone outside of her family guessing.
“I wore that stuff to mess them up,” Feldmeier said.
But she was careful never to wear Mississippi paraphernalia until national signing day Wednesday, when she pulled out a red Ole Miss sweatshirt from a shopping bag during a ceremony at Tumwater High, then signed her national letter of intent to compete for the Rebels of the Southeastern Conference.
Feldmeier, who won Class 2A titles in the 100-meter hurdles and the 200 and 400 meters at last spring’s state track and field championships, was one of six Tumwater students to sign letters of intent Wednesday.
Distance runner Dawit Mengistu signed with Montana, while football players Nick Foerstel (Eastern Washington), Jayden Croft and Christian Cummings (Central Washington) and Gabe Gleizes (Western Oregon) also will compete at the next level.
Even before her official visit to the Oxford, Miss., campus in mid-January, which she said had “a home feel,” Feldmeier was sold on the school and the track program after Rebels coach Brian O’Neal’s at-home visit in November.
“I just knew then,” she said. “(Coach O’Neal and I) really hit it off. It was really special.”
As luck would have it, Ole Miss was one of the last schools to get in contact with Feldmeier. At one stretch of her recruiting process, her heart was set on Navy. But in September, she learned her allergy to nuts meant she was unable to attend the academy, she said.
“I think I cried at school when I found out,” she said.
Feldmeier has racked up frequent-flier miles in recent months, taking official visits to Oregon, Arizona State, Oklahoma, the U.S. Naval Academy and, as recently as Jan. 13, Mississippi. It was at
Ole Miss that she met New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner and one of the school’s most notable alumni.
CROFT, CUMMINGS TOGETHER AGAIN
Croft and Cummings first were football teammates on the Thurston County Youth Football League’s T-Birds. The trend continued through high school, where the pair helped lead Tumwater to back-to-back Class 2A state title game appearances. And it will continue in college.
“Eight years plus another five,” Croft said. “It’s been awesome.”
The duo’s letters of intent were among the first to come through the fax machines in the Central Washington University athletic offices Wednesday morning. They were part of a 25-player recruiting class for first-year coach Ian Shoemaker, who was hired Dec. 26.
Croft is one of three quarterbacks the Wildcats signed, joining Wenatchee’s Dillon Sugg and Kamiakin’s Kylle Robertson, while Cummings is one of three running backs.
Shoemaker made it a priority to make scholarship offers to Croft and Cummings, The Olympian’s All-Area Player of the Year, as part of his inaugural recruiting class. Both players orally committed within the last two weeks; Cummings said Central’s head coaching vacancy through the fall slowed his recruiting process.
“I waited (to commit) until they got a head coach,” Cummings said.
EWU SWOOPS INTO THURSTON COUNTY
Tumwater’s Foerstel, projected to move from defensive end to linebacker, is one of three South Sound players to join an Eastern Washington squad that advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals in December. Joining him are Timberline’s Asan Neil-Evergin and Olympia’s Mitch Fettig.
EWU coach Beau Baldwin spoke about Fettig’s versatility and how his ball skills and production reminded him of Eagles All-America linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, a 2009 Timberline High graduate.
“We see Mitch as a possible safety or receiver or cornerback because he has the ability to play all those positions,” Baldwin said. “We see the versatility in his abilities.”
Baldwin said Foerstel and Neil-Evergin shined during their time at EWU’s summer camp. While touting Neil-Evergin’s explosiveness and competitiveness, Baldwin also said Foerstel’s on-field motor and effort stood out.
“He just has a nastiness to the way he plays the game,” Baldwin said.
CHANGE OF PACE FOR COX, WHO’S OFF TO VANDERBILT
Capital senior Logan Cox dreamed of a well-rounded college experience, one that included playing soccer and taking in different cultures and viewpoints while living away from home.
“I wanted to see other parts of the country,” Cox said.
That was part of her reasoning to sign with Vanderbilt, located in Nashville, Tenn. Cox is the second girls soccer player from Capital to sign with a Division I school in as many years, joining Alyssa Edenstrom, who signed with Portland.
For Cox, finding the Commodores of the SEC was the hard part, but committing was easy. In May, she attended a soccer camp on the Vanderbilt campus. It was her first time seeing the school, and she quickly realized it was the right place for her. Cox orally committed soon afterward.
“Everything fit together with what I was looking for,” she said.
Though she played forward for the Cougars this past fall, she’ll move to defender for Vandy.
SOUTH SOUND SIGNEES
Wednesday was national signing day for many sports, including football, track and field, softball, soccer and cross-country. A list of known South Sound athletes who signed letters of intent:
Alex CoxW.F. WestFootballMontana State-Northern
Jayden CroftTumwaterFootballCentral Washington
Christian CummingsTumwaterFootballCentral Washington
Brooke FeldmeierTumwaterTrack and fieldMississippi
Mitch FettigOlympiaFootballEastern Washington
Nick FoerstelTumwaterFootballEastern Washington
Jennifer GarmanYelmSoccerShoreline CC
Gabe GleizesTumwaterFootballWestern Oregon
Tanner GuellerW.F. WestFootballIdaho State
Whitney LoweBlack HillsSoccerCentral Washington
Bowe McKayW.F. WestFootballMontana State-Northern
Megan MendoncaYelmSoftballOttawa (Kan.)
Bryan MoonW.F. WestFootballMontana State-Northern
Asan Neil-EverginTimberlineFootballEastern Washington
Bryce WinklerOlympiaSoccerColorado State-PuebloMeg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com