Last year, Sami Rudd was helping Mesa Ridge go 25-1, reach the quarterfinals of the state tournament and claim a 4A Colorado Springs Metro League girls' hoops title.

On Wednesday, as the winter sports season opened and the players hit the court, Rudd started her afternoon by signing a national letter of intent for Kansas State - to row.

Then she headed to the Scorpions' basketball tryouts.

"It was weird," said Rudd, who averaged 10.2 points per game last season and 6.4 rebounds. "I know that this is my last basketball season."

Weirder than that is that Rudd has never rowed in her life. Playing at a basketball tournament in Kansas, members of the K-State rowing staff saw Rudd and started mailing her info. She planned to ignore the letters.

"My mom made me fill out a questionnaire thing," Rudd said. "So I thought I might as well go and see what it's like. I ended up liking it a lot."

Rudd had a scholarship offer to play basketball from another school and was talking to a couple others. But the Wildcats rowers won out. She won't be the only athlete on the team whose first sport isn't on the water.

Another rower played basketball, and a couple others started in volleyball.

"When I went on my official visit, I stayed with some of the other girls and really liked them and the coaches, as well," said Rudd, who was told by Mesa Ridge athletic director Mike Sullivan that only three Colorado students signed rowing letters of intent.

Rudd will get in the boat a year from now.

"I'm going to start learning how to do it next fall," she said. "But one of the coaches is going to send a workout thing to prepare myself."

And what did her basketball teammates think about the idea?

"They were excited for me," Rudd said. "They thought I was a little crazy at first."


Gymnast signs on with Ivy League school

It's not every day a student-athlete from Colorado Springs signs with an Ivy League school, but Wednesday saw a couple, including Yale-bound Megan Ryan. The Pine Creek senior will not only test herself athletically at the next level on the Yale gymnastics team, but enjoy the challenge of studying at one of the country's elite schools.

"I'm so excited to go to Yale, and it's a dream come true," said Ryan, who said she will pursue a business degree. "It was amazing (to sign), and it's such a relief."


Two state champs sign for Lewis-Palmer

Two players from Lewis-Palmer's volleyball state championship team signed national letters of intent.

What's more, they got to do it in front of the entire school at the end of an assembly to honor the volleyball team's title.

Haley McCurley is headed to Division II Sioux Falls, while classmate and teammate Carson Nicodemus is heading to California Lutheran, about a half-hour drive from the Pacific Ocean, a point that was not lost on many of her assembled classmates, L-P coach Susan Odenbaugh said.

"It just happened to coincide," Odenbaugh said about the pep assembly and signing day. Odenbaugh also expects Abigail Bartalo to sign a letter of intent in the future.


Pine Creek volleyball duo signs college letters

Taylor Cross and Mackenzie Swan were stars for Pine Creek's 19-8 volleyball team, and now they'll be taking their talents to the collegiate realm.

Cross, who led the team with 182 digs, signed with New Mexico, while Swan, who had 269 assists, 191 kills and 22 blocks, is heading to Jacksonville University.


Volleyball middles make it official with D-I schools

First-team all-state selections Mara Barkely and Maddie Beal were among the most feared middle tandems in the state this season for Cheyenne Mountain.

Wednesday, they signed up for the next step of their careers.

Barkley, who had 232 kills last season will head to George Mason, and Beal, who led the team with 292 kills, will head to Minnesota next fall.

"They were the leaders of a pretty young team this year," Cheyenne Mountain volleyball coach David Barkley said at the ceremony. "Teams would always try to stop our middles first. And as much as they tried, they couldn't for a whole match. I'm so proud of both of them."


Swim practice starts with 2 D-I signings for CM

Sydney Buckley signed to swim at North Texas and teammate Morgan Wice-Roslin signed to swim at the University of Denver right before their first high school swim practice of the year.

Buckley will try to grab her third consecutive title in the 100 butterfly, while Wice-Roslin will try to improve on her third-place finish at state in last year's 50 freestyle. Both will try to help the team's record-setting 200-yard medley relay repeat, and the Indians will try to win their first girls' state swim title since 2001.

"These girls have brought so much to our team since they were a freshmen and sophomores," swim coach Kate Doane said. "They are leaders for us. Now, we are not only around the top of the state, but we want to finish clearly on top. We are all hungry to get there."


All over but the signing

Doherty's all-state volleyball star Haleigh Washington finally made it official.

The reigning Gatorade Colorado Volleyball Player of the Year signed a national letter of intent to play at Penn State next season.

As a junior, Washington verbally committed to the Nittany Lions, currently ranked No. 2 in the country by the NCAA's website and by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Neal Reid, Scott Kaniewski, Brent W. New, The Gazette