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Ulrich, Canter, Howanitz, Sutch highlight non-grid ‘signing week’

With All-state athletic credentials oozing out of their resumes, Casey Ulrich, Sarah Canter, Gretchen Sutch and Jace Howanitz have made the next step as high school seniors.

All four signed National Letter of Intent papers last week as future NCAA Division I student/athletes.

For Canter, the first Bearden High School athletic ever to earn All-state honors in two sports according to BHS athletics director Scott Witt, the choice was South Florida, a Big East Conference university in Tampa, Fla. That’s where she’ll throw javelin and discus.

Sutch, a three-time All-state soccer forward at Knoxville Catholic, chose Belmont University in Nashville.

Howanitz, coming off a pair of state championship swims last weekend in Nashville (see story beginning on page 16) who also won the 200-yard IM state title in 2007, signed with Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Blacksburg, Va.

For Ulrich, Farragut High School forward who has led her team in scoring the past two season, East Tennessee State, Johnson City, was the choice.

“It just had everything I wanted,” said Ulrich, a two-time All-state selection and three-time All-Region 2-AAA and All-District 4-AAA who was named 4-AAA Most Valuable Player last fall.

“I decided six months ago I wanted to go into nursing, and they have an amazing nursing program. ... Love the campus, love the dorms and love all the coaches,” she added.

Ulrich, 17, anticipates being a forward or outside midfielder at ETSU, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“She’s just a great player, she’s fast, she’s got a good shot, got very good skills,” FHS head coach Dennis Lindsey said. “She’s going to make a good college player.”

Canter, an All-state honoree in discus last spring by finishing second (128-feet-2), also earned two Class AAA soccer state title rings as a goalkeeper who helped the Lady SoccerDawgs pitch a pair of state title game shutouts.

As for signing with South Florida Feb. 7, “I always really liked Florida, so I took a visit down there and I really loved the campus,” Canter said. “The coach was the nicest person I ever met.”

With the javelin, Canter enjoyed success during the national AAU meet in Knoxville last summer. “I got fourth in the nation with 17-18-year-olds at UT,” she said.

Canter’s mother and throwing coach, Karen Shotwell, is a former standout track and field athlete at UT and the University of Oregon during the mid-1980s. She’s been both a mentor and a measuring stick for her daughter.

“She’s really pushed me ... I know I’ve got some big shoes to fill because she threw [discus] 140 [feet] her senior year [in high school], and her fartherest ever is like 180-something,” Canter said. “I’d really like to get in the 140s.”

Canter said her best javelin throw to date is 124 feet.

Hunter Fendley, BHS throwing coach and new Lady Bulldogs track and field head coach, said Canter “utilizes speed, power, strength” to become a “phenomenal athlete. That sets her apart from other girls in her events.”

Howanitz, 17, said she signed with Va. Tech Feb. 6 because “I fit in real well with the team, and they have good academics. I was happy with the campus and the coaches.” The Irish senior, 200-IM KISL “city meet” record-holder, will specialize in the 200-IM, 400-IM, 100-freestyle, 50-freestyle and 100-butterfly, she said.

Sutch, 18, said she signed with Belmont Feb. 6 because, “Overall, it’s a good size. ... The team, I met them, they’re really nice. And the coaches are good.”


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