Joined by family, friends, teammates and coaches, Greely’s Savanna Harvey, left, Max Cloutier, Ryan Kolben, Zach Johnston and Chelsea Graiver take part in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon to announce where they plan to compete in college. Michael Hoffer / The Forecaster

Very few high school athletes get an opportunity to go on and play in college.

Greely High is fortunate enough to have five of them.

Wednesday afternoon, in a ceremony in the gymnasium, three baseball stars, a standout field hockey goalie and top basketball player made it public where they plan to compete at the next level.

Sustained excellence

The Rangers perennially strong baseball program finds itself in the rare position of boasting three college-bound athletes, including two who are heading to the Division I level, as left-handed ace Zach Johnston is heading to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; catcher Ryan Kolben will take his skills to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst; and Max Cloutier, a jack-of-all-trades, will play at Division III St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

“We’re all close, best friends, so this means a lot,” said Johnston, who is undecided on a major. “To figure out the process and finally know where I’m going is great. Wake Forest stood out the most. I love the coaching staff. The athletic piece plus the coaching piece put it together for me. I think it’s going to be super fun. I’m excited for the challenge. It will be good to have more competition.”

“This means a lot to see all my hard work pay off,” said Kolben, who plans to study finance or sports management. “We all played together and worked hard together, so it’s cool to see it pay off. I got some offers from other schools, but U. Mass is the right fit. I couldn’t be happier to go there.

“It’s just an awesome day and to share it with Ryan and Zach and the other athletes is very special,” said Cloutier, who is considering studying environmental studies or environmental engineering. “To have three athletes commit on the same day doesn’t happen a lot. I knew I wanted to go somewhere D2, D3 and I reached out to coaches. I immediately loved (St. Lawrence) when I toured the campus. I knew I wanted to be there.”

“It’s a thrill for them individually and all three of them are very close,” added Greely baseball coach Derek Soule. “They’ve worked a long time for this. I’m feeling really proud of them individually for what they’ve accomplished. At the same time, I’m very grateful to be able to coach them. I’m thrilled for our program as well. It’s a feather in Greely baseball’s cap.

“I saw their potential early. I remember watching them play in the 10-11 Little League all-star tournament over in Gray. Max, in particular, had an unbelievable tournament. I’ve never seen a hitter so hot. Then I remember seeing them for the first time on the big diamond in middle school. All three of them were very skilled and in talking to them, this was something they wanted even at that age. They had it in mind to play collegiately.”

Cloutier, Johnston and Kolben are just the latest in a long line of Greely players who have played or are playing in college.

“We’ve had five Division I players and two Division II players, and we’re now pushing 30 Division III players,” Soule said.

While the three players will be missed, they do get one more chance to win an elusive state title this spring.

“We’ll go out there every day and work to win a state championship and hopefully it will happen,” Kolben said.

“We’re all excited to move on next year, but we know we have some unfinished business this spring,” Cloutier said. “That’s our main focus right now. We won’t be satisfied if we don’t finish that business.”

“I wish we could have gotten the 2020 year back and redshirt these guys, but that’s not going to happen, so we’ll enjoy one last run together,” Soule added.

Denying goals and reaching one

Harvey has been recognized as one of the premier field hockey goalies in the state and she took to the sport from a young age.

“I started playing goalie in sixth grade,” Harvey said. “When I first put on the gear I just knew it was my position. I love the feeling of just stopping the ball and hearing everybody cheer.”

Wednesday, Harvey achieved her longtime goal of being able to play at the college level when she announced she’ll attend Division III Springfield (Massachusetts) College.

“This is a day I’ve dreamed about ever since I first stepped on the field and put on (goalie) gear,” Harvey said. “It’s a day to celebrate me and my hard work, but it’s also a day to celebrate my coaches and it’s a day to really say thank you to my parents for supporting me and giving me the best opportunities they could have given me. I started out mainly looking at D1, but as I looked at more schools and learned more about the process, I decided I wanted to go D3 because I want to prioritize school. I want to go into physical therapy or something in the medical field. I went to a recruiting weekend at Springfield and I met the team and the coaches. Ever since I stepped on campus, I knew that was where I wanted to be.”

Nothing but net

Graiver has played with college-bound standouts Camille Clement, Brooke Obar and Mollie Obar in recent seasons for a Greely squad which has been among the finest teams in the state. Seeing them go on and play in college served as motivation for Graiver to do the same and Wednesday, she made it official that she’ll be heading to Division II Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.

“This means so much to me,” said Graiver, who plans to study sports management. “I’ve looked forward to this for years. It’s been a dream of mine since I started playing basketball in third grade. To play in college, at a great school like Stonehill, is really special. As soon as I stepped on the Stonehill campus, I knew it was the right one and I didn’t want to go anywhere. The coaches are superior compared to everywhere else. I knew it was the right fit, especially being close to my friends in Massachusetts. Camille Clement pushed me every day, so did Brooke Obar and Mollie Obar. (Brian) Clement was my AAU (Maine Firecrackers) coach. I’m so thankful for all he’s done for me. The whole Greely basketball program pushed me to be a better player. The level we play at made me push even harder to achieve what I have.”

Graiver will be a top player for the Rangers this winter and hopes to bow out with a memorable campaign.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Graiver said. “I think we’ll be good this year. We’ve lost some valuable players, but that will push everyone to work even harder.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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