Four Generals Sign To Play At The Next Level

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Four Anthony Wayne High School student-athletes signed letters of intent to play their sports at the next level last week.

England Allen, Kiana Harsh, Hannah Rizzo and Samantha Spencer were joined by family and friends during the February 1 signing event.

England Allen, who signed a letter of intent to play football for Bucknell University, is joined by family and friends.

Allen has signed to play football for Bucknell University, a Division I liberal arts school in Lewisburg, Pa.

He plans to study cell biology or biochemistry, with a goal of a career in oncology or pharmaceutical sales. 

“I want to give it my all and leave a legacy,” Allen said.

During his athletic career at AW, Allen has been involved in track and field as well as basketball, but it was football that propelled him toward his goal.

“Signing to play college football was a massive milestone to hit for me,” said the cornerback and wide receiver.

Allen noted that he’s built relationships and a family during his time at AW.

“Anthony Wayne has prepared me very well and will continue to prepare me for the remainder of my time at school here,” he said. “Coaches, parents and peers, the whole community is a large support group and constantly pushes you to be a part of something bigger than yourself, to be the best version of yourself you possibly can be.”

AW football coach Andy Brungard said he’s seen Allen do just that.

“England has grown in his maturity as a young man and how he communicates and interacts in our community,” Brungard said. “England leads by example and is a great learner of the game and an excellent student. “

Kiana Harsh, joined by her family, has signed to play soccer for the Akron University Zips.

Kiana Harsh has signed to play soccer for the Division I Akron University Zips.

She plans to major in psychology and criminal justice, knowing that such an education could be applied in several areas of the workforce.

“My goal is to continue working hard and be a student-athlete that younger kids can look up to,” Harsh said.

It wasn’t until her senior year that she played for the Anthony Wayne team, playing instead for the highly competitive Michigan Hawks club team. In Michigan, the high school girls soccer season is opposite of Ohio – with club season in the fall and high school in the spring. This restricted her from playing both.

“Going into senior year, I decided I wanted to try something different. I am so glad I decided to play with the amazing team I have gotten to know and, looking back, I wouldn’t change it for a thing,” Harsh said of her switch to AW.

A midfielder, Harsh is a quiet tactician who reads the game really well and is exceptional at using her body to defend, said coach Lori Williams.

“In the attack, she is remarkably composed and was key in us keeping the ball moving quickly,” Williams added. “She came in and had a great season and made an impact for us, earning second-team all-state honors.” 

Harsh was also honored with first-team NLL and district recognition.

“Playing high school soccer has been an amazing experience for me,” she said. “I enjoyed being able to play in front of my friends and the community as well as playing for the girls on my team.”

One of the highlights of this last season was during district semifinals against St. Ursula Academy, which the girls knew would be a 110-minute battle.

“Every one of us worked extremely hard and fought until the last second. When it was Mal Pollack’s turn for the penalty kick and it went into the back of the net, I can’t even fully express in words the excitement I felt. 

“I immediately got goosebumps as we all ran to hug her. That team winning feeling was the best feeling ever and I will never forget it,” she said.

While at AW, Harsh was involved last year in the Environmental Club and Spanish Club. She also has taken College Credit Plus classes that will give her a jump start when she heads to Akron.

“Playing high school soccer on top of academics gives me a glimpse of being able to balance the student-athlete life,” she said. “During high school I have learned more about myself as a player and as a person – especially with my coaches always teaching me and the team to keep a positive attitude and persevere through any struggles.”

Hannah Rizzo (center) signed to play lacrosse for Calvin University. She is joined by her family.

Hannah Rizzo has signed to play lacrosse for Calvin University, a private Christian university in Grand Rapids, Mich. She plans to major in art education.

“My goal is to share the love of lacrosse with my team and build my faith with my new family – Calvin women’s lacrosse,” she said.

When she entered Anthony Wayne, Rizzo played soccer until she found a love of lacrosse.

“Hannah just started playing the sport as a sophomore and has grown tremendously,” said coach Tiffany Tully. “She started as our backup goalie and quickly took the reins as a starter in the net.”

Tully said that Rizzo’s strong communication skills and great awareness made her an asset to the team.

“Hannah is a great teammate, fun to be around and an extremely hard worker. Honored to have her as a member of the AW girls lacrosse program. She will be an asset to the team at Calvin,” Tully said.

Rizzo earned second-team all-region last year as a junior. She broke a state record and is now ranked second in the state with the most saves in a single game, Tully said. She is also ranked seventh in the state for her save percentage. 

In addition to sports, Rizzo has been involved with Family, Career, Community and Leaders of America (FCCLA), a student-led organization. She serves as president and last year she earned third in the nation for her nutrition and wellness project during the annual leadership conference in San Diego. 

This year she is competing in leadership and is guiding members of her chapter as they work on their projects

“Being a part of Anthony Wayne has helped me gain more confidence in myself and my abilities,” Rizzo said. She credits Penta Career Center family and consumer science teacher Amanda Valdez and intervention specialist Heather Arquette for helping her achieve her goals.

“She is such a positive young lady and I am so proud of her desire to spread positivity with her actions in the classroom and on the lacrosse field,” Arquette said.

Samantha Spencer, who will row for the West Virginia University Mountaineers, is joined by her family.

Samantha Spencer has signed to row for the Division I West Virginia University Mountaineers.

She plans to major in coaching and performance science, with a focus on strength and conditioning. Her goal is to become an athletic trainer for a collegiate team.

“I really want to grow as an athlete,” Spencer said. “There isn’t much rowing in Northwest Ohio, so I have had to bounce around to a lot of different clubs and teams, so I’m most excited to have a solid program to work in.”

During her freshman and sophomore years, Samantha rowed for the Anthony Wayne Crew Club and also played softball.

“I think that was my favorite athletic moment,” she said. “Sophomore year I was unable to row because of COVID-19 restrictions in our area, so I decided to play softball for one more year. 

“The season overall was so much fun. I played JV during the regular season but was pulled up into varsity and we made it to districts. We ended up going all the way to the final four and it was an experience I will never forget.”

In addition to rowing for her junior and senior years, Spencer attended summer camps and decided to join the Anthony Wayne girls swimming and diving team as a senior. 

Last week, the team was honored for winning its first NLL title.

In addition to rowing, swimming and softball, Spencer has been involved with the Cultural Food Club, National Honor Society, Link Crew and student council.

She noted that one class, community engagement, taught by Dr. Justin Zemanski, had a major impact on her. The class gave her skills that she used during the recruitment process and will help her as she moves on to college.

“I have had an amazing experience at AWHS overall,” she said. “The teachers have been so compassionate and genuinely care about their students, which allowed me to grow into the person I am today.”

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