SIDNEY — It was an afternoon for celebration in the Lehman Catholic gymnasium, as five seniors made their college choices in front of the student body, cheerleaders and pep band in the Schlater Family Gymnasium.
McFarland, the daughter of Ed and Jill McFarland and the defending D-III state pole vault champions, hopes to soar in new heights — signing with SEC member University of Mississippi.
“I really liked the coaching staff down there and I like campus,” she said. “I have always loved the SEC and I am excited about this.”
McFarland, who cleared 12-8 in the pole vault to win state as a junior, has been pole vaulting for just two and a half years.
“No, not at all,” she said with a laugh about not expecting this kind of success in the sport. “I couldn’t have imagined it.”
McFarland, who is currently slowed by an injury, is excited about the spring season as well.
“This (signing with Ole Miss) has changed my goals for this spring,” she said. “I already had high expectations, but this has changed my goals. My goals are more about height (how high she can go), not awards. I am really excited about this opportunity and I can’t wait.”
O’Leary, the son of Rob and Rosemary O’Leary, is always up for a new challenge.
At Lehman, he led the Cavaliers to the football playoffs, putting up monster numbers and has led the basketball team to a 15-4 start.
And he will get another challenge at Findlay University after signing his letter of intent.
O’Leary — 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds — will be moving to tight end.
“I am really excited about it,” O’Leary said. “It will be something different for me, but I am ready for hit.”
O’Leary completed 157 of 283 passes for 1,977 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,464 yards and 24 touchdowns on 165 carries.
On defense, he had 74 tackles, eight for loss and four interceptions, including two pick 6’s.
“I am going to work hard to pick up things as quick as possible,” he said. “So, I can get on the field as soon as possible.”
O’Leary, the daughter of David and Emily Peltier, is continuing the family tradition.
The soccer and basketball standout, will continue her soccer career at Franciscan Univeristy of Steubenvville.
“Both my parents went there,” O’Leary said with a smile. “And my older sister (Kaitrin) played for them. I really like the school and coaches and I am excited.”
O’Leary anchored a strong Lehman defense for the last four years.
“I played all over the field,” O’Leary said. “But, my position is middle backer and that is where I will play. I am excited about the opportunity.”
The son of William Ford Jr. and Dione Benson will continue his football career at Capital University.
He rushed for 66 yards on 14 carries and had 83, tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks at this middle linebacker position.
“I will be a defensive end for Capital,” Ford said. “I played there my first three years at Lehman so it is not something new for me.”
Ford said Capital was an easy choice.
“I really liked it there and like the coaches,” he said.
Libecap is the son of Allen and Leigha Libecap and will join Ford at Capital.
While, he had his senior season shortened by injury, the offensive and defensive lineman still managed nine tackles, including three for loss.
“I am looking forward to the challenge,” Libecap said. “I will play offensive tackle. I want to play right away, but I am just going up there and working hard every day. I am excited about the opportunity.”
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]