Seven RC Stevens student-athletes make their college choices official
RAPID CITY, S.D. – For most high school athletes, having the opportunity to play at the next level is a dream come true.
This week, seven seniors from Rapid City Stevens moved one step closer to making that dream a reality.
Jacob Hafner, University of South Dakota, Track and Field
Three of those athletes will compete in track and field at the collegiate level including Jacob Hafner.
He will compete for the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
Hafner placed fourth in the triple jump at the 2019 state track meet and is currently ranked fifth in the state in the triple jump and ninth in the long jump.
“I toured there back in February and right when I got there, I knew the atmosphere was good,” said Jacob Hafner. “I thought I would fit in just fine there.”
Isaac Perkins, Chadron State College, Track and Field
Isaac Perkins signed a letter of intent to compete in track and field at Chadron State College.
Perkins finished ninth in the shot put last year at the state track meet and 14th in the discus.
He’s also competing in the javelin throw this season.
“I chose that school because when I visited it, they had really good academics,” said Isaac Perkins. “The school itself, I felt like I was at home. So nothing more I could ask for.”
Eli Huot, South Dakota Mines, Track and Field
Meanwhile, Eli Huot will continue his track and field career at South Dakota Mines.
Huot competes in the shot put, discus and javelin throw.
Huot is excited about competing for the Hardrockers.
“Well I went on a tour and I’ve done camps there before and I’ve always really really liked their weight room and their facilities up there,” said Eli Huot. “Especially the throwing ring. The hammer discus ring is really really nice.”
Kenadi Rising, Highland Community College, Women’s Basketball
Kenadi Rising is one of three Stevens seniors who plan to play women’s basketball at the next level.
Rising will continue her career at Highland Community College in Kansas.
She led the Raiders in scoring last season with 13 points per game.
“I visited about three months ago and right away I just fell in love with everything,” said Kenadi Rising. “The athletic trainer there is really nice and I got into the athletic training program so.”
Kenya Merrival, College of Saint Mary, Women’s Basketball
Kenya Merrival put pen to paper and plans to play basketball for the College of Saint Mary in Omaha.
Merrival was also a member of the Rapid City Stevens team that finished 17-6 last year and lost to Sioux Falls Washington in the state title game.
She averaged four points per game.
“I haven’t gotten a chance to visit there but I have watched a few of their games,” said Kenya Merrival. “They’re really good on the offensive level. I think that’s something I can contribute well too.”
Ella Peterson, Dickinson State University, Women’s Basketball
Ella Peterson signed a letter of intent to play women’s basketball next year at Dickinson State University in North Dakota.
The six-foot-one forward plans to study biology and become a physical therapist.
“I just really liked the campus and everybody that I met,” said Ella Peterson. “I really liked coach Nelson and the biology program. I thought it was a really good fit for me.”
Vanessa Wittenberg, Augustana University, Women’s Tennis
A state tennis champion from Rapid City Stevens is also taking her talents to the next level.
Vanessa Wittenberg signed a letter of intent with Augustana University in Sioux Falls.
Wittenberg was the flight three singles state champion in 2019 and she captured the flight one singles state title in 2020.
“I love both the academic and the athletic portion because it was the best of both worlds,” said Vanessa Wittenberg. “They’re known for the academics and athletics and the team was super welcoming. They’re planning on going DI within the next few years which is exciting. So it’s competitive but also fun.”