Wednesday Jul 08 2009
Placer's Lardner, Klem in recruiting process
By: Dave Krizman, Journal Columnist
According to the NCAA, only 4 percent of graduating high school athletes will play in the NCAA. This 4 percent includes Division I, Division II and Division III. Clearly, the opportunity to continue playing athletics at the college level is difficult. High school athletes face stiff competition from athletes all across the nation for a few highly coveted scholarships. Many of these athletes are eliminated for consideration because they do not meet the academic requirements of college institutions. As mandated by the NCAA, colleges now must address the APR (Academic Progress Ratings). The APR is a measuring stick of the academic progress of student-athletes. Schools whose APR falls below a certain level, may forfeit scholarships or participation in NCAA playoffs. The APR precludes many universities from recruiting athletes who may not succeed in the classroom. Thus, the combination of stiff athletic competition for a scholarship and the desire for gifted academic kids makes for a small, yet, highly competitive pool of recruitable kids. Still, for many high school athletes, this is a goal to which they aspire. Our Sierra Foothills athletes have had their own fair share of success in the recruiting process. Colfax’s graduating class of 2008 produced eight students who received scholarships. Included in this group were Colton Russi, football at Portland State; Scott Krizman, basketball at UC San Diego; Courtney Harrison, basketball at Chico State; and Tess Balcomb, track and field at UC Santa Barbara. That same year, Placer’s Kasey Riecks accepted a basketball scholarship to UC Davis and Hunter Pahl of Del Oro also accepted a football scholarship with the Aggies. Over the next several months, this column will track the adventures of two student-athletes from Placer High. Kelsey Lardner and Josh Klem, both seniors at Placer next year, have agreed, along with their parents, to make public their experiences in the recruiting war. Kelsey and Josh are already deep into their recruiting, and they are comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, highs and lows of this opportunity. Kelsey Lardner is a two-sport star at Placer. She plays both basketball and volleyball. Yet, it is in volleyball that she is being recruited. Her 3.75 GPA, including a demanding schedule of Advanced Placement classes, make her an ideal candidate for college athletics. In addition to her stellar academic successes, Kelsey finds time to be a Peer Helper on the Placer campus. Her high school coach, Jennifer Wright, had nothing but praise for Kelsey. “There is no doubt that Kelsey can play volleyball at the college level,” Wright said. “It’s just a matter of finding the right college for her.” “This whole recruiting thing has been fun and exciting, but it also has its downside,” said Julie Lardner, Kelsey’s mother. “Gonzaga University was showing interest in Kelsey, but they have since recruited some other girls. Had they offered Kelsey a scholarship, we would have accepted it in a heartbeat. But they went a different direction.” Currently, Kelsey is receiving interest from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., UC Santa Cruz and Wheaton College on the east coast, although Kelsey’s mom felt Wheaton was too expensive at $50,000 a year. Kelsey will be spending a week at the UC Santa Cruz campus participating in a Nike-sponsored volleyball camp. The camp, run by the UC Santa Cruz head volleyball coach, is an opportunity for Kelsey to shine against other star volleyball players. Josh Klem carries a 4.25 GPA and is the next three-sport star, following Matt Ross, at Placer. Much like Kelsey, universities are attracted to Josh for both his athletic prowess and solid grades. Josh excels in both football and basketball. Josh, however, is realistic about his opportunities. “My first love and my heart are in basketball, but I know I have a better chance to get a scholarship in football,” he said. When asked what he is looking for in a college, Josh said, “I would like to play at the Division I level for a prestigious school, but I’m kind of confused right now, so I just don’t know what I want.” Currently, Josh has received phone calls from the football coaching staffs at University of San Diego and Sacramento State. He has also received letters from Yale, UC Davis, Columbia, Vanderbilt, Stanford, and Cal. Coaches from these schools will be watching Josh closely over the course of his fall football season. Both Kelsey and Josh are superb athletes, outstanding students, and fabulous teenagers. These two are the type of youth that the Auburn community should be proud of and root for. Kelsey and Josh, two of Placer’s finest, should make for interesting reading over the next several months.