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Five Oak Ridge athletes sign letters of intent

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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On Nov. 15, five Oak Ridge seniors were busy signing letters of intent and cementing their futures beyond graduation this spring. Katie Vaughn (volleyball), Vincent Waldhauser (wrestling), Natasha Sundby (gymnastics), Kasey Stanchek and Jenessa Jeppesen (softball) were among the Oak Ridge class of 2011 inking their names on the dotted lines. Vaughn, a four-year starter at Oak Ridge, chose Brigham Young University. During her career at Oak Ridge, she led the Lady Trojans to back-to-back Sac Joaquin Section titles in 2008-09 and as the lone senior this year, brought them to within two wins of a three-peat. She was named to the All-Sierra Valley Conference first team in her sophomore and junior years and is likely to headline that team again this year for the Delta River League. “I visited (BYU) and I just fell in love with it,” Vaughn said. “It’s a good education and it’s highly esteemed. I loved the volleyball team and the coaches, so everything just kind of lined up perfectly for me. I feel really lucky to have attended Oak Ridge when the volleyball team has been so awesome.” “Katie has been Oak Ridge volleyball over the past four years. I hear little kids at our camps all the time talking about how they want to be like her and how they wish they could play with her,” said coach Becky Potter. “She’s been our rock. She’s a good person and a great soul. We’re really going to miss her.” Sundby, who has been involved with gymnastics since the age of five, will be taking her talents to Tempe and the Arizona State University campus next fall. She stands apart from the other athletes due to the fact that her gymnastics schedule occupies five hours a day, six days a week on a year-round basis. “I love Arizona and the hot weather there,” Sundby said. “I also loved the coaches and the teammates from the gymnastics team. My time here at Oak Ridge went by really fast. It took a lot of hard work but I’ve had a lot of support from the staff and my parents. Hopefully, I can bring a good attitude and a positive influence to ASU.” Traveling the furthest from home, Waldhauser will attend the University of Virginia to join its wrestling squad. As a sophomore, he placed seventh in the state in the 160-pound weight division and bumped up to second place in the state as a junior. He has goals of topping that milestone when the season starts this year. “I can attribute his successes in wrestling to one thing and that’s just hard work,” said wrestling coach Casey Rhyan of Waldhauser. “He truly loves the sport and it seems like the greater the challenge has been, the greater he’s become. That’s what makes him special. It’s like having another coach on the team.” “The coaches (at Virginia) are great and the athletic facilities are incredible,” said Waldhauser. “I can’t wait to get started there because everyone on that team works for the same goal that I have and that is to be a national champion.” Later this spring, the Oak Ridge softball team will make a run at a fifth consecutive section championship and fourth behind corner infielder Jenessa Jeppesen (UC Santa Barbara) and pitcher Kasey Stanchek (University of Washington). “UCSB has been my dream school for as long as I can remember,” said Jeppesen, who was called up to varsity during her freshman year and helped them clinch their second of four straight section titles. During her sophomore year, she was tops amongst Sierra Valley Conference players with four home runs. “Winning sections every year has been a big thing for me and hopefully I can be an impact hitter and a leader for our team at UCSB,” she added. As for her teammate, Stanchek, all she has done since her freshman year is go 65-11 with more than 800 strikeouts, earning All-SVC first-team honors each year along with the Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team as a junior. “The atmosphere at UW is great and so is the team chemistry. If I had to pick a school without softball, I would still pick Washington,” said Stanchek, the 2010 SVC Most Valuable Player. “The West Coast is the hot bed for collegiate softball,” Oak Ridge softball coach Marc Bentovoja said. “To have two kids from the same team be able to achieve and meet such an incredible goal is a testament to all of their hard work, both in the classroom and as leaders on the field. I can’t say enough just how proud we are to have been affiliated in some way with these two girls.”