Neither Tess Oliphant nor Brandon Gebhardt knew collegiate athletics would be part of their futures early on in their high school careers. But both made the decision official within the past month.
Oliphant, a four-year member of the Raiders' softball program, will take her skills to Feather River College where she wants to pursue a career in either sports medicine or wildlife conservation.
With California junior colleges, athletes must make first contact, so Oliphant said she just was browsing the Quincy, Calif. school's Web site and ended up filling out a questionnaire. The rest is history.
"I always grew up wanting to play softball in college, but the option never really presented itself until recently. Then I was like 'why wouldn't I go?'" Oliphant said. "I'm just glad it's actually happening."
Gebhardt did not begin considering wrestling in college until his junior year at RHS when his level of success and enjoyment increased dramatically. Winning the first of two state titles usually has that kind of affect on athletes.
He visited Baker University in Kansas with his father and was immediately intrigued with the small-town feel and decided around this past spring break to sign with the NAIA school. He will study engineering.
"It's going to be a lot of fun. It's a whole new experience for me that I'm looking forward to," Gebhardt said. "It will be a challenge, but I think I'm up to it."
Oliphant also has a shot at winning her own state championship this week as the Raiders head to Las Vegas as the Northern 4A regional champs.
"This year has been really crazy since we just won regionals. It's kind of been a dream for our whole team," Oliphant said. "Spanish Springs has done it for so long now, and we just wanted to get Reed the credit it's been deserving for awhile now. We've worked really hard for it. It's really cool to have the opportunity to go to Vegas and show everybody what the North has."
Oliphant started from time to time as a junior, but has become one of the team's power threats to provide protection for the middle of the lineup.
"She's the type of person who gets along with everyone. She's a leader at Reed High School, and that carries over to the softball field. She's the type of player you like to have as a coach," Reed softball coach Ray Charles said. "Anytime she comes to the plate, she has the opportunity to hit a yard ball or a double off the wall. She definitely gives us some depth in our lineup."
Gebhardt wrestled all four years during his time at Reed. Coach Ric Fehr helped groom Gebhardt into a two-time regional and state champion at 189 pounds. Gebhardt has worked hard to win over 150 matches in his high school career and Fehr believes that his success will continue.
"I think he'll be very successful. He'll finish at a high level at Baker for sure," Fehr said. "He's got a lot of talent and a lot invested in this. He's going with a lot of momentum right now, and it will take something major to slow it down."