The quartet of Sherman athletes who signed to continue their careers in college have left their mark in different ways, whether it was on the diamond, in the pool or at Bearcat Stadium.
And as they leave behind their successes on the paths to creating new ones, Gage Smith, Brenna Michaelsen, Ethan Bedgood and Bailey Tillotson marked that occasion in grand fashion.
Smith is headed to West Texas A&M for football, Michaelsen will swim for Mount Holyoke College, Bedgood will play baseball for the University of Texas Tyler and Tillotson will play soccer for the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain.
Smith chose the Division II football program over Southeastern Oklahoma State, Emporia State and Henderson State.
“I told myself it had to be the right place, the right fit for me,” Smith said. “The camaraderie of the team was big. I could speak to the coaches one-on-one; I could talk game with them easily.”
This past season he was the District 7-5A (I) Defensive Player of the Year after finishing with 90 total tackles (67 solo) to go with three interceptions, five pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
“I’m not going to say I expected it but that was the goal,” Smith said. “If you don’t see yourself as the best player, you won’t be a successful player.”
He also contributed on offense with nine catches for 226 yards and a touchdown as the Bearcats went 6-4 and were part of a three-way tie for third place but ended up on the wrong side of the tie-breaker and missed the playoffs.
As a junior he was second-team all-district with 80 tackles (56 solo), two interceptions, nine pass breakups and a sack to go with 16 catches for 186 yards and two TDs and Sherman finished 4-7 with a bi-district loss.
Smith also was a starter as a sophomore, named honorable mention all-district and helped Sherman end a five-year playoff drought before losing in the bi-district round and ending 4-7.
West Texas A&M went 8-3 this past season and 5-3 in the Lone Star Conference. It was the best season by the program since 2013, which was their last appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
“They’ve gone from 3-8 to 6-5 to 8-3. The next step is 11-0 and a national championship,” Smith said. “That’s the goal. Lone Star Conference is the toughest conference in Division II.”
Van Alstyne’s Zane Madison was a redshirt freshman this past fall.
Michaelsen chose the Division III program in western Massachusetts over Washington & Jefferson and Smith College.
“I walked on campus to the administration building and on the way I knew this is where I wanted to go,” she said.
Michaelsen closed out her career over the weekend by competing in four events at the Class 5A Region II meet.
In addition to qualifying for regionals in the 100 butterfly after being the district runner-up, she teamed with Madalyn Hall, Grace Quick and Paige McMahan to finish eighth in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:53.36, combined with Quick, Jordyn Berenguer and McMahan for eighth place in the 400 freestyle with a time of 4:28.81 and joined with McMahan, Hall and Quick to place 10th in the 200 medley relay in 2:13.33.
Michaelsen also competed in four events at regionals as junior — she was 13th in the 100 fly in 1:09.55, 15th in the 500 free in 6:28.19, combined with McMahan, Quick and Bella Maldonado for 10th in the 200 medley relay in 2:11.25 and teamed up with those three in the 200 free relay in 1:59.24.
As a sophomore, Michaelsen was part of Sherman’s region-qualifying 200 medley relay, which finished 15th, and 200 free relay, which was 20th.
During her freshman year, Michaelsen was 19th in the region in the 100 fly at 1:20.10, teamed with Maldonado, Emily Singleton and Sam Shumate for 16th in the 400 free relay in 4:32.62 and with Maldonado, Shumate and Allyson Caves for 19th in 2:22.68.
“It’s been great. I’ve had a second family on the team. It’s been an awesome experience,” Michaelsen said. “I’ve had a lot of good coaches throughout the years.”
Mount Holyoke College went 4-4 last season and finished eighth in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championships.
Bedgood chose the Division II program over Brown and Southeastern Oklahoma State.
“I went on the visit there and realized it was the perfect place for me,” said Bedgood, who also had an offer to play football for East Texas Baptist. “No matter what, wherever I was going to go, I’m going to have to earn my spot.”
He has been a four-year starter at catcher for the Bearcats with his senior season set to begin later this month.
“I’m just hoping this year, for me, I can turn it up a notch,” Bedgood said. “We want to make the playoffs and I’m excited to work with Coach Anderson.”
As a junior, he batted .302 with a .371 on-base percentage to go with seven doubles and 17 RBI and was an honorable mention all-district pick.
During his sophomore year he was a second-team all-district selection and helped Sherman tied for fourth-place but missed out on the playoffs due to a tie-breaker.
As a freshman he helped the Bearcats end a three-year playoff drought and earned all-district honors.
The University of Texas Tyler will compete as a full member of the Lone Star Conference this season after the team went 23-15 playing as an independent while transitioning to the Division II level.
Gunter’s Reagan MacDonald will be a senior this spring.
During its last season as a Division III program in 2018, the Patriots won the National Championship with a 40-18 record.
The program captured six American Southwest Conference titles, including three straight from 2015-17, and made the NCAA D-III Regionals four consecutive seasons leading up to winning it all.
Tillotson chose the junior college program over Richland College and committed to the program in December.
“It was all about finding where would be best for me. The campus was beautiful and when it feels right, it feels right,” Tillotson said. “It’s a brand-new program and I’m excited to build on that, to help get things going.”
During her four years as a starter for the Lady Bearcats, Tillotson has seen most of her time in the midfield.
So far during her senior season, she is one of the team captains with eight goals and three assists in 14 matches. Sherman has already won more games than in each of the past five seasons and with District 10-5A play underway, the Lady Bearcats are trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014. They are 5-8-1 overall.
“That’s our goal, make the playoffs. This year we’re striving to get that fourth-place spot, third-place spot,” Tillotson said. “I know we can do it.”
As a junior she was selected second-team all-district.
University of Arkansas Rich Mountain completed its first season of competition in the fall and went 2-12-3 overall and 2-9-3 in NJCAA Region 2 play to finish seventh in the standings.