In a year in which just about everything seems changed, college recruiting is no different.
But three Chambersburg senior athletes were able to find their next destination at NCAA Division I schools and signed letters of intent this weekend. Two of them — Gianna Weigel in girls soccer and Tate Nichter in wrestling — were not affected too much by the new rules in recruiting due to the pandemic.
However, it was a different story for Maddie Kinton, who eventually signed with Robert Morris University for track and cross country.
She had been looking at RMU, located in Moon Township near Pittsburgh, for about a year, but after COVID-19 hit in the spring, her plans to make a decision changed.
“The recruiting was really weird,” Kinton said. “I wasn’t able to take an official visit, but I did take an unofficial one. Even though I was on campus and so were the coaches, we weren’t able to have any contact.”
Kinton, who plans to run both cross country and track, was able to do a zoom call with some of the girls on the team, and that, plus Robert Morris’s bio-mechanical engineering program, sold the school to her.
“I’m interested in that program because I’d like to eventually work with prosthetics,” she said. “I liked the girls on the team, and I like the coaches and the campus.”
Trojan coach Chris Monheim said, “Maddie is a versatile runner who should help Robert Morris from the middle distance events on the track all the way up to the longer distances of cross country.”
The Colonials, who just switched to the Horizon League, will have Bryan Delsite as their first-year coach in the two sports.
For Weigle, a midfielder for the Trojan girls soccer team, the timing was right for her to avoid any of the pandemic issues in her decision to attend Youngstown (Ohio) State.
“I was fortunate,” she said, “because I verbally committed in December, right before everything started happening.”
She did not have the Penguins on her original list of schools to check out.
“No, I didn’t, but they saw me play for my club team and let me know they were interested,” Weigel said. “I went on an official visit (last fall), and I liked the campus and athletic facilities, I liked the coaches and I met some of the girls on the team.
“It’s been a long-term goal of mine to play Division I in college since I was a kid.”
Weigle scored two goals this past season, and for her career had five goals and 10 assists. She is being recruited to play center midfield.
“I love Gianna’s drive and desire to win,” Chambersburg coach Ed Franchi said. “She’s been a team captain for the last two years and helped bring the team forward in their mental preparation. She will be missed, but I wish her nothing but the best at the next level.
The Penguins, who were 4-13-1 last fall, also play in the Horizon League, under coach Dr. Brian Shrum. Another former Trojan, Jade Flory, played for Youngstown State for two years (2011-12) and is tied for seventh on YSU’s all-time list for points with 29 (11 goals, 7 assists).
Nichter’s decision to commit to Drexel University was based in familiarity. First of all, his brother Luke is a freshman for the Dragons. And Drexel’s coaching staff knew Tate well and Tate knew them well.
“I feel like I’ve known those guys forever,” Nichter said, “even before they recruited Luke.”
Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said, “Tate is very comfortable with the coaches there because he’s seen them a lot. Their coaches have come up to do clinics in our room for the last seven or eight years. And plus, they have a nice program for academics and athletics.”
Nichter, who will study business, said, “I know a lot of kids have to stress about making a decision, but I didn’t have to too much. Even at districts last year, when I wasn’t at my best, the (Drexel) coaches told me that won’t change anything. That helped.”
In three years, Nichter has piled up an impressive record of 101-23. He was a District 3 champion and placed sixth in the PIAA Tournament as a sophomore, while last year he was 39-5, but was knocked out in districts.
“I thought about waiting until the season was over, but wanted to get it over with,” Nichter said. “Plus, I got a good offer.”
Drexel competes in the EIWA for wrestling and is coached by Matt Azevado. The Dragons were 7-11 a year ago. Former Trojan Tanner Shoap also competed for Drexel (2013-2018) and Shippensburg’s Chandler Olson is a current member of the team.