In front of family and friends, Josh Koch and Makayla Shadle signed national letters of intent to play sports at the collegiate level next year.
Koch, who competed in football and track for the Dust Devils is headed to NAIA track power Concordia to throw the shot and discus. Shadle, meanwhile, is headed to Division III Willamette to continue her softball career.
Koch chose Concordia over Colorado-Mesa and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Concordia is moving up to Division II in 2015.
Koch liked the quaintness of Concordia, which has about 1,500 students on campus. He said the smallness of the Portland campus was a big draw.
“When I went to Concordia, I was attracted to it right away,” Koch said. “The program is very good, and that was a big grab.”
An even bigger grab is getting an opportunity to work with Jarred Rome, an Olympian in 2004 and 2012. With a coach like Rome working with him everyday, it’s hard to imagine Koch not improving by leaps and bounds the next five years.
Koch has career bests of 52-3 in the shot put and 152 in the discus. He believes he is capable of much more, and so is Rome.
“I’d like to think that I can get to 60 feet in the shot by the end of my college career,” said Koch who has been bothered by a hand injury this season. “I’d like to hit 200 in the discus. I’ll be on a weight (and lifting) program which will help.”
Rome likes Koch’s work ethic, his work in the classroom and athleticism. Her believes he will add 30-to-40 pounds of muscle on Koch by the time he leaves Concordia.
“I like his grades and how dedicated he is toward throwing,” Rome said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “He wants to be the best thrower he can be. Having a work ethic like he has, those are the type of guys you want to be part of your program.
“When you are recruiting, you have to see the potential. He has the speed (in the ring). We’ll put mass on him. He hasn’t ever been on a big lifting program. Putting 30-40 pounds on him will make a big difference. I can see him over 170 in the discus and over 55 feet in the shot.”
In high school, Koch throws a 12-pound shot put. At the college level, he’ll throw a 16-pound ball.
Shadle had one D-1 offer from S.E. Louisiana, but in the end she chose Willamette over Division II Sonoma State, which is located in Northern California.
“Southeast Louisiana saw me at a (club) tournament,” Shadle said. “I didn’t want to be that far away from home. I have a lot of family and friends throughout California and Oregon.
“I went to visit Willamette and fell in love with the school; absolutely fell in love with it. The coach (Damian Williams) really wanted me, and it all fell into place. My new club coach (Lady Magic in Sacramento) was buddies with coach Williams from high school.”
Willamette currently has four pitchers — a junior, two freshmen and a sophomore — on its current roster. Shadle said that Williams expects her to battle for a starting job in the circle.
Shadle, who has a 6-4 record and an ERA of 1.13, has fanned 98 batters and walked 13 in 43.1 innings. She has been one of the most dominant Division 1A pitchers in the state since taking over after Kenzie Cole graduated.
Shadle said that Williams wants her to work on her cardio.
“He wants me to focus on cardio,” Shadle said. “Pitchers have to have a lot of cardio. He’s already given me a program that I’m going to start. If I go up there out of shape, he’s going to know.”
And the last thing Shadle wants to do is make a bad first impression with her new coach.