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Prep Zone: Hampshire's DeDina finds right fit on signing day

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Hampshire senior Josh DeDina scoured the Internet a couple of months ago searching for just the proper match.

DeDina needed a college that offered agriculture business as a major and had a swimming team. It was not the easiest combination to find.

“If I didn’t swim in college, I would have felt like I wasted all those years,” DeDina said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could get some [scholarship] money [to swim]. It takes so much dedication to do this.”

DeDina, who swims for the Jacobs District 300 co-op team, found South Dakota State, an NCAA Division I school in Brookings that offered agriculture business and has a men’s swimming team. The Jackrabbits’ coaching staff called him back promptly, DeDina visited the school a couple of weeks later and signed his NCAA national letter of intent with South Dakota State on Wednesday.

Wednesday marked the early signing period for most sports. Football, soccer and cross country and track and field athletes sign in February. Others who are accepting scholarships to NCAA Division I and II schools can sign until next Wednesday.

“I filled out a questionnaire [online], put in my [swimming] times and emailed it,” DeDina said. “They called me the next day. It surprised me, but I was really happy. I couldn’t believe it.”

DeDina qualified for the Boys Swimming and Diving State Meet in four events last year – 200-yard individual medley, 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay. It was DeDina’s second trip to state.

“As a freshman, I just missed the cut in breaststroke by a second,” DeDina said. “I’m really goal-oriented and I really wanted to make it to state after that. Last year, I was in the top 25 [in breaststroke] and I was surrounded by an extremely talented group of guys.”

DeDina said swimmers such as Alex Elston and Ryan Quinlan really pushed him to be his best. DeDina was looking at Eastern Illinois and D-III schools Wisconsin-Whitewater and Monmouth. When South Dakota State’s coaches were interested, the choice became much easier.

“I like to interact with people,” DeDina said. “I wanted to go into agriculture business so I could do something like run a feed store or be a field agent and work with farmers.”

Bartczyszyn to Louisana-Lafayette: Cary-Grove volleyball player Jess Bartczyszyn signed Wednesday with D-I Louisiana-Lafayette. Bartczyszyn was the setter for the past two seasons and helped the Trojans to a Class 4A state runner-up finish last season.

Bartczyszyn was on the varsity roster for four years and was seen by Lafayette while playing with Sky High Volleyball’s 17 White team at a U.S. national tournament in July in Ohio.

“As soon as I got there, I knew it was the place for me,” Bartczyszyn said. “The team was great. They took me around and I liked coach Heather [Mazeitis Fontenot] and the direction she wants the program to go.”

CLS’ Hall to Tusculum: Crystal Lake South right-handed pitcher Tyler Hall will sign today with D-II Tusculum College, a D-II school in Greeneville, Tenn. Hall and his father Brett found Tusculum while searching the internet.

“We were looking at D-II schools and found it,” Hall said. “We contacted the coach and he suggested I come down for a showcase.”

In the meantime, Hall sent his numbers from the spring season, which were quite impressive, and told the coaches where to find his online highlight video. Hall was 8-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings. He walked only nine batters and threw five complete games for the Gators, who shared the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title with Prairie Ridge and set a school record for victories at 28-10.

Tusculum has won the South Atlantic Conference five of the last eight years.

“It all happened in a couple of weeks,” said Hall, who went to the showcase in late October. “It’s surprising to be honest. It shows that a pitcher doesn’t always have to throw hard. If you stay humble, you never know what could happen.”

• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at joestevenson@shawmedia.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

Signing day

Wednesday was the first day of the early signing period for athletes attending NCAA Division I or II schools on athletic scholarships in basketball, baseball, softball, golf, swimming, volleyball and wrestling. Here is a list of local athletes who signed Wednesday or will sign this week.

Baseball

Athlete, School College (Div.)

Jake Bigos CL South Saint Joseph’s, Ind. (D-II)

Tyler Hall, CL South Tusculum, Tenn. (D-II)

Jordan Getzelman, Prairie Ridge Missouri (D-I)

Colin Lyman, Huntley Louisville (D-I)

Bryce Only, Huntley Nebraska (D-I)

Softball

Athlete, School College (Div.)

Riley Stanton, Richmond-Burton Winona State (D-II)

Kirsten Stevens, Prairie Ridge Mercer, Ga. (D-I)

Swimming

Athlete, School College (Div.)

Josh DeDina, Hampshire South Dakota State (D-I)

Volleyball

Athlete, School College (Div.)

Jess Bartczyszyn, Cary-Grove La.-Lafayette (D-I)

Caitlin Brauneis, Prairie Ridge Georgetown (D-I)

Alyssa Ehrhardt, Jacobs Toledo (D-I)

Mackenzi Humm, Prairie Ridge Xavier (D-I)

Wrestling

Athlete, School College (Div.)

Chance Shelton, Harvard Iowa (D-I)

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