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muskie ceremony

Muscatine held a ceremony to celebrate 13 high school senior athletes who have signed to play a college sport.

Evan Riggs, Muscatine Journal

Antonio Melendez wrote a note to himself before his freshman year of high school soccer.

"Wherever you go, you're going to do great things."

He played his freshman season in Muscatine before moving to Kansas City for two years and playing for the Sporting Kansas City Academy. Now the Muscatine senior will attend Drake University and fulfill his goal of playing Division I soccer.

"When I moved down there (Kansas City) they (Drake) reached out to me for the first time, and when I got the text it excited me," Melendez said. "It gave me a boost to work even harder. Once I got on campus and got a feel for the school I really liked it.

"I think I'm going to enjoy it there next year."

Melendez headlined the 13 Muscatine senior athletes honored for signing to play a college sport Wednesday at Muscatine High School.

Melendez plays just about every position for the Muskies, though he expects to play more as an attacking wing for the Bulldogs. The Muscatine senior currently leads the boys soccer team with 13 goals and four assists.

"I've played everywhere my whole life," Melendez said. "Whether it's defense or attacking, I like getting the job done and doing what's best for the team."

Muscatine golfer JT Manjoine was another one of the 13 athletes recognized Wednesday, and he will continue his career at Wartburg College.

"I never thought I wasn't going to do it ever since I started playing competitively when I was 12," Manjoine said. "I couldn't see myself not doing it."

In addition to the 13 athletes recognized, four other Muskie seniors are heading to the next level. Joe Wieskamp will play basketball and Tyler Olson will run at Iowa, while Kaitlyn Bierman will play softball at John Wood Community College, and Brittni Lloyd will play softball at Indians Hills Community College.

Muscatine athletic director Mike Morgan was told that the 13 athletes honored Wednesday was "probably twice as many" as Muscatine's had before.

"I hope we're able to carry this forward. I think that's a big challenge for the underclassmen," he said. "The bar has been set."

Nolan Bell, Football, Ellsworth Community College

Bell compiled 42.5 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one sack for Muscatine as a senior.

Ragan Carey, Bowling, Clarke University

Muscatine's Outstanding Senior Female Athlete will bowl at Clarke University.

Isaac Heth, Track, Lindenwood

He's a member of Muscatine's state-qualifying 1,600-meter relay team.

Morgan Hogenson, Softball, Luther College

Hogenson compiled three home runs, 27 RBIs and 14 stolen bases with a .455 batting average and .595 slugging percentage in her junior season.

Bryce Howard, Golf, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Howard had an average score of 79 in 18-hole rounds for the Muskies last fall.

Jaelynn Klein, Bowling, William Penn University

Klein bowled a 374 series at the state tournament to lead the Muscatine girls bowling team to a second-place finish.

Dylan McGill, Soccer, Iowa Central Community College

McGill, a standout defender for the Muscatine boys soccer team, will continue his career in Fort Dodge next season.

Hannah McGourty, Cheer, University of Northern Iowa

McGourty, one of four future Division I athletes in the Muskie senior class, will cheer for the Panthers.

Paige Miller, Golf, Minnesota State University

She placed ninth at the state meet last year and currently holds an 18-hole average of 84.2 this season.

Joe Morrison, Baseball, Iowa Wesleyan University

Morrison was a standout pitcher for the Muskies last summer with a 2.22 earned run average and 39 strikeouts to go along with a 7-2 record.

Evelyn Perez, Cheer, Iowa Central Community College

Perez is one of two Muskies heading to Fort Dodge, where she will continue her cheer career.

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