Three Carson High athletes sign to play in college
Three Carson High seniors — Rheanna Jackson, Natalie Anderson and Dajarrah Navarro — are taking their skills to the next level.
Jackson, who will attend the University of Nevada for cross country and track, held a signing ceremony Wednesday morning at Carson’s Morse Burley Gym. Volleyball setter Anderson signed with Division II University of Tampa, and Navarro, a middle blocker, recently signed with Division II West Alabama University.
Jackson, who finished seventh in the regional cross country and fifth at state back in November, is understandably excited.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said after her short signing ceremony. “I got to meet the team (on my visit) and it felt like a good fit.”
For Jackson, the key was commitment and buying in. She freely admits until this past summer, she never trained because she was at her family’s ranch near Tonopah. Barely missing going to state track was a jolt to Jackson, and that was the impetus she needed to focus on running.
“Our relay team missed state by three seconds,” Jackson said. “That’s what started me working hard. My track coach last year gave me a training program for the summer. I came into the (late summer) cross country workouts in shape. I decided if I didn’t put in the work I wouldn’t see any results.
“I improved a lot because of all the hard work I put in. It was great to see all the work pay off.”
It was all about improvement for Jackson, according to CHS cross country coach Pete Sinnott.
“Rheanna got better every year,” Sinnott said. “She got stronger, faster and more confident. She was competitive with the best runners in the state. She is very competitive. She ran with the boys all the time in practice.
“If she continues (like she’s doing), she can compete with all the college girls. She is the fourth-fastest in the last decade here.”
Sinnott isn’t sure whether she will be better in cross country or track.
“In cross country this year, she was very competitive at the end of the season,” Sinnott said. “I like to train athletes so they are running their best at the end of the season.”
“Rheanna had a breakout senior cross country season, improving dramatically to fifth in the state,” said Nevada head coach Kirk Elias. “I like to recruit late bloomers as they tend to go on to have very productive collegiate careers. I am excited to see what she can do over the next four years.”
Jackson’s best event in track is the 3200, and that’s probably because of her cross country. Jackson said she’s going to do the 1600 this weekend.
Anderson guides the offense
Anderson enjoyed a successful four-year career for coach Robert Maw, chalking up more than 2,000 assists and doing a solid job of running the attack whether it be a 6-2 or a 5-1.
And now she will take her talents 3,000 miles away from home to the University of Tampa, a D-2 school with both a beach and indoor program, though Anderson was mainly recruited for the indoor team.
Anderson had interest from Siena, Niagara, Florida Southern and Juniata, a D-3 school in Pennsylvania.
“I e-mailed them last year (my junior year) and sent my film,” Anderson said. “Nothing really happened with it. I visited Southern Florida, and when I came back, Jim (Saari, Silver State Volleyball Club’s recruiting coordinator) called them and told the Tampa coach that he had to take a look at my film, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“The coach looked at the film and then e-mailed me. I visited a couple of weeks later. I went the first open weekend I had, and two weeks later I committed.”
Anderson admitted she was hooked when she got there.
“It’s the most perfect place I’ve ever been,” Anderson said. “One of the things I liked is that it was ‘beachy.’ The team was perfect, the coach was perfect, the campus was beautiful and they win national championships. I worked out with the team, sort of a tryout, and I knew I had to close the deal.”
Anderson said her offer from Niagara was a good one, and it would have re-united her with CHS teammate Jaycie Roberts.
“I actually went to Niagara before I went to Tampa,” Anderson said. “Playing with Jaycie again and going to school with her would have been great, but Tampa was a better situation for me. Right after I left (Niagara) the coach called and said he was leaving (for Siena).”
Anderson, who said she will redshirt next year, said she is working on her vertical at the net. She knows she will be giving up a lot more height than she did in high school and club.
“The girls keep getting taller and they can jump high,” Anderson said. “I think my ‘vert’ is good, but it can always get better. The higher I can jump, the more I can put up a block.”
Maw said that’s a key.
“She is going to be challenged,” Maw said. “Natalie has good court sense and she is competitive. She still has to be able to put up a block.”
Anderson said Tampa ran both a one-setter offense and a two-setter offense. Anderson has worked in both styles, and she prefers the one-setter attack because of the timing involved with the hitters. She said the setter is more of an offensive weapon in a one-setter attack.
Navarro a late bloomer
Navarro is coming off a year where she had 140 blocks and 67 kills, most of which came off Maw’s quick-set attack.
“Dajarrah made huge strides after her junior season at Carson when she went and played club,” Maw said. “She played with more confidence this past season. I think she will do real well at the next level.”
Navarro said she talked to several schools, including junior colleges and four-year schools.
“West Alabama contacted me and stuck with me,” Navarro said. “They would e-mail to see what kind of day I had. I could tell how much they wanted me to play for them.”
Navarro said Silver State sent a highlight video out to several schools, and also posted it on YouTube.
“The coach came to the first Power League qualifier, but didn’t communicate with me there,” Navarrao said. “They later e-mailed me, and the coach told me that she had watched me play and wanted to set up a visit.”
Navarro went for a weekend visit in mid-March, and was impressed.
“I would say I fit in pretty well,” she said. “Everybody was pretty energetic. I felt like I belonged. They were very welcoming.
“The town is pretty small, a little more toward the size of Carson City. The community is really involved with school events. You can pretty much walk into town, that’s how close it is to campus.”
Navarro said she has an opportunity to play a lot as a freshman, and maybe even start.
“The coach talked to me saying I’d be able to play freshman year as a starter as long as I kept working hard,” Navarro said. “The chances are quite high I will play quite a bit as a freshman.”