When the 2019 Linden graduate class left Linden Community Schools for the last official time as students at their graduation, 10 of them still remained student athletes.
That’s because 10 are going to play athletics at the collegiate level this fall.
Five are going to play football (Luke Kenney, Garrett Durkac, Noah Quesnelle and Ryan Wilbrink), while four others are going to play baseball (Travis Klocek, Parker Mabe, Jeff Metzger and John Miller). One will play volleyball (Madison Nelson) and a final one will play soccer (Audrey Steiert).
Of the 10, only one will be playing Division 1 athletics — Steiert.
Steiert, who verbally committed during her sophomore season, will be playing on the University of Dayton’s women’s soccer team.
“I went there and I had a feeling, and the coaching staff is great,” Steiert said. “I could not find a better fit. ... The head coach (Eric Golz) is the exact same person as me. Mentally, we get along so well, and after spending some time there, I get along with everyone there. They have a cool team atmosphere. It’s really awesome. Obviously it was nerve wracking (making the decision as a
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sophomore) because it was such a long way, but I know it was the right decision. I couldn’t be any more confident that I made the right decision.”
The last time Steiert played for Linden’s varsity girls soccer team was her sophomore season when the squad advanced to the state semifinals before losing. She also was an All-State cross country performer as well. Academically, she was an All-State Academic performer and her graduation class’s Valedictorian. The Flyers posted an 8-9-2 record overall last fall.
“Audrey is extremely driven, competitive and influential,” Golz said. “She is a workhorse of a central midfielder that is capable of playing box to box while being impactful and effective on both sides of the ball. She will help us improve our possession as well as our ability to break teams down with her technical range, ability to finish from distance and vision. ... She is versatile and talented and we can’t wait to have her on campus.”
Durkac planned on going to Trine University to be a football player, but now will be a two-sport athlete after his outstanding track and field season.
Durkac was a first-team All-Metro performer and an All-State performer on the Eagles’ offensive line, but he also earned All-State honors by taking seventh at the D2 state meet in the discus (144-feet-11-inches). He also threw the shot put this season.
“It’s really an honor to go to a university that has won the conference two years in a row and made the playoffs two years in a row, especially making the sweet 16 playoffs in 2017,” Durkac said about Trine’s football team. “I’m really excited to go down there and compete for a spot in football and track. I emailed the (track) coaches at Trine, told them my PRs and they were excited for me to come down. It’s going to be exciting to do both.”
The Eagles had an atypical losing season in 2018, going 4-5 overall, failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The squad went 4-5 overall in 2001 as well. During Durkac’s junior season, the squad went 9-3 overall, winning a Division 2 district title. Team injuries crushed the Eagles in 2018. The past success is probably a good reason why so many seniors are headed to the collegiate level from the football squad.
“Linden football has prepared me for everything,” Durkac said. “The coaches are fantastic and they pretty much helped me make me the man I am today.”
Other Linden players headed to colleges include Kenney to Adrian College. Kenney was a first-team All-Metro defensive back during his senior season. But as injuries accumulated, he also had 13 catches for 258 yards while returning for 152 yards and four TDs on just 18 rushes.
Ryan Wilbrink is headed to a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) school as well. Wilbrink played on the defensive line for the Eagles, making 34 total tackles while causing two fumbles.
Quesnelle was a first-team All-Metro performer at linebacker and is heading to Heidelberg University. Quesnelle played during the 2018 season with a hurt knee but still ended up with 99 tackles, including 11 for loss.
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He had three sacks and three forced fumbles.
Three baseball players on the 2018 Metro League championship squad are headed to the next level as well. Klocek was a first-team All-Metro pitcher and the Tri-County’s 2018 Baseball Player of the Year. He’s headed to Cleary Univeristy.
“For the most part I’m ready,” Klocek said. “I know I have a lot of work to do this summer. I need to get conditioned and be healthy. But for the most part I’m ready for the next level.”
Two Linden players will be teammates at the collegiate level. Miller and Mabe are headed to the Siena Heights University.
Miller was a strong pitcher for the Eagles, earning second-team All-Metro honors. Mabe was an honorable mention All-Metro selection and will provide a solid bat to the squad.
The final performer headed to the next level is Nelson who will play volleyball at Macomb Community College this fall.