Summit seniors Alex O’Neal and Ty Michalowski commit to college soccer, basketball programs | SummitDaily.com

Summit seniors Alex O’Neal and Ty Michalowski commit to college soccer, basketball programs

Life is about to change in a big way for Ty Michalowski and Alex O'Neal.

In early March, the two Summit High School seniors officially committed to collegiate sports programs in Wisconsin and Kansas. Longtime soccer captain Michalowski is heading to Waukesha, Wisconsin, to play with the Division III team at Carroll University, while longtime basketball captain O'Neal is staying closer to home for NAIA hoops in Winfield, Kansas, with Southwestern College. The two join fellow senior and starting volleyball hitter Sam Buer, who committed in February to play for McPherson College in Kansas, as the first members of the 2017 senior class to grab and hold the attention of collegiate recruits. And for all three, this next big step has been a long time in the making.

"I honestly thought I was a football player, but I found that I had the passion for basketball and the most fun playing basketball," said O'Neal, 18, who played football, basketball and baseball growing up. "I even stopped playing football when I came to high school because that's my sport."

O'Neal spent most of his senior season on the bench after dislocating his arm in October — it happened just a week before his visit to Southwestern — and then injuring the same arm again at the first game of the season, an 83-60 win against Middle Park on Dec. 1. The team finished 8-15 overall without the two-year captain and towering power forward, and he hopes to return stronger and better when practice begins next fall in Kansas for the Moundbuilders.

"They're a good basketball program," said O'Neal, who mentioned Southwestern lost in the conference finals this season to York College, 104-109 on Feb. 28. "I visited the school, saw the facility, met the coaching staff, and I really liked how they treated their players. I knew it would be easier on me if I went there."

Michalowski joins the historic Carroll Pioneer program after a stellar senior season with the Tigers. With a good sense of game speed and rhythm in the backfield, he helped lead his team to a 9-6 overall record and even scored a career-ending goal against Rifle for a 7-1 Senior Night win. He was forced to sit out most of his sophomore season with an injury, but it convinced him to keep pursuing the sport and even move from midfield, where he'd played since he was in elementary school, to defense.

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"Not being able to play that sophomore year really let me know I love the sport," said Michalowski, 17, who spent two years as Tigers captain. "After that season I decided it was really what I wanted to do in college, and so that was the goal."

O'Neal begins his collegiate career on a 50 percent athletic scholarship with the opportunity for a full-ride after one or two seasons. Michalowski joins the Carroll team with his sights on an exercise science degree — part of the reason he said "yes" to school at the 160-year-old institution.

"D. III is a giant stepping stone for me," Michalowski said. "I'd love to be an All-American player at that level, and then go higher up if the opportunity presents itself. It soccer doesn't work out it doesn't work out, but if it does I'm going to pursue it."

O'Neal agrees. After missing his senior year, he realized that patience and persistence go hand in hand, and joining the team in full health will only help.

"This freshman year I just want to get settled into the new atmosphere, what it's like to be a college student athlete," O'Neal said. "That year will be about adapting to everything, and from there I can step in and make an impact."

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