Making a name for themselves proves to be an important factor for athletes choosing where they will compete in college

Blazing one’s own trail seems to have been a theme for the class of 2014, so it’s only fitting that it held true when it came time for the best athletes in the Newberg area to make their college choices.

That was definitely the case for its two highest-profile recruits — Newberg javelin thrower Trevor Danielson and C.S. Lewis volleyball star Mikaela Raudsepp — who eschewed taking traditional paths in favor of their SETH GORDON - Competing schools - Debora De Leon will run cross country and track for Western Oregon University, not far from her sister Rebeca, who will compete for Linfield College.

For Danielson, that meant passing up a chance to compete with his older brother, Cody, at UCLA or at childhood and home-state favorite Oregon in order to attend Stanford.

Raudsepp, who was under the radar at Class 1A C.S. Lewis Academy, but a highly-coveted recruit on the club circuit, could have pursued opportunities at any number of traditional volleyball powers, but opted for up-and-coming Wichita State.

Carving out one’s own niche also proved to be key in the college choices of several athletes moving on to compete at the Division II and III levels.

For a long time, twin sisters Debora and Rebeca De Leon expected they would continue to attend school and run together, but the cross-country and track standouts will be going their separate ways, albeit only an hour or so apart.

Debora first intended to go out of state and run for Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania, but opted to stay closer to home and compete for Western Oregon. Manhattanville College in New York and UC-Santa Cruz were also options for her, but this way she will still be close to her parents and to Rebeca, who has elected to run for Linfield.

“We’re still training together, so that will be fun in the end to see when we do race each other,” Rebeca DeLeon said. “It’s going to be interesting.”

Another set of siblings will find themselves donning different colors next year after swimmer and water polo standout Spencer McMaster decided to attend Redlands University over California Lutheran. McMaster’s older brother, Taylor, competes for the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen.

“I don’t want to go hang out with my brother, that’s kind of weird,” Spencer McMaster said. “I wanted to make my own friends and do my own thing. We’re going to be their main rivals, so it should be fun.”

George Fox has always been a popular school for Newberg-area students in general, but the Bruins seem to be recruiting more and more local athletes to the fold as well.

By electing to stay in Newberg, Tigers offensive lineman Dane Jensen could find himself lined up directly across from Linfield’s Dakota Church in the coming years.

Jensen was a unanimous pick for the all-Pacific Conference first team and named Lineman of the Year before later earning honorable mention all-state accolades. Newberg and George Fox fans can catch Jensen in action Saturday, as the offensive tackle will participate in the Les Schwab Bowl at 1:30 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium.

“It’s exciting for him and will be a nice way to end his high school career that way and move on to college,” Newberg head coach T.J. Tomlin said. “He’ll be going against some good kids, they’re all talented kids, so it’s a good step from there to the next level.”

Also attending George Fox in the fall will be C.S. Lewis soccer standout Sam Swan and Newberg pitcher Nick Auld, but with four area athletes headed to Spokane, Whitworth appears to be the most popular choice this year.

For swimmer Bjorn Larsen, it was an easy choice after working tirelessly the past two years to prove he had what it takes to compete at the next level.

“Whitworth was his first, last and only choice,” Newberg swim coach George Sampson said. “He really wanted to go to Whitworth and he got in.”

Joining Larsen there will be three members from the Tigers track and field team, as Irena Pia, Dan Harper and Harrison Carsh have elected to become Pirates.

Fellow members of the NHS track team Jonathan Bos and Zane Burgess will also continue running in college, with Bos pledged to Corban and Burgess still weighing his options.

Lastly, Newberg softball teammates Emily Bromagem and Annie Sackett will extend their playing careers at Wenatchee Valley and Clackamas community colleges, respectively.

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