Four Central athletes sign with colleges

Jeremiah Johnke, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·5 min read

Apr. 22—CHEYENNE — Cade Burns visited two colleges in Iowa this past weekend.

He really liked the first school he visited, but found himself leaning toward the second during his visit.

The Cheyenne Central senior didn't want to fall victim to recency bias, so he sat down and made a list of pros and cons for each school.

Central College of Pella, Iowa, came out on top, and Burns signed a letter of intent to continue his basketball career at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics member school Wednesday.

"Most colleges I visited asked me what I was looking for in a school, and I didn't really have a checklist," he said. "I knew wherever I went just had to feel right. As soon as I got to Pella, it felt like home.

"The school is great, so is the basketball program. Plus, it's right next to a giant lake and I really like to fish. That kind of sealed the deal. Central had the most in the pros column, so that's what I picked."

Burns — a 6-foot-7 wing — was a second team All-Class 4A East Conference selection this past season. He averaged 7.3 points and four rebounds per game to help the Indians go 21-3 and win the 4A state championship.

This was Burns' second season at Central. He spent the first two years of his high school career suiting up for Cheyenne South before his family moved into the Central triad. He was hampered by injuries and struggled to find a role during first season in an Indians uniform.

That changed this season, Central coach Tagg Lain said.

"It was a true blessing to get Cade," he said. "He is a team-first player like the rest of our seniors. He had high goals and practices hard every day.

"... I'm so excited he has decided to continue his basketball career because he is a very talented player who makes his teammates better. He became an excellent defender, is a tremendous ball-handler and is a play-maker."

Ahrens makes historyIsiaha Ahrens was a good basketball player, and enjoyed playing the sport. However, he didn't get the same satisfaction from it as he did playing Call of Duty. In fact, he was better at the first-person shooter video. So good that he was ranked in the low thousands among all players in the world at one time.

Ahrens committed to Ottawa (Kansas) University's esports team Wednesday. The Braves have the top-ranked Call of Duty team in the nation, Ahrens said.

Esports is an emerging sport in college athletics departments, and Ahrens is the first Central student to receive a scholarship to be part of a collegiate esports team.

"You practice learning maps and each other's playing styles to build chemistry," Ahrens said. "It's just like any other sport, you're just not moving as much physically. It's a really mental sport."

Ahrens has been playing COD on X-Box since he was a preschooler.

"The game was always a lot of fun, and they kept making it better and better every year," said Ahrens, who will study business. "My skills got better the more I played. It's always been one of my dreams to be a professional esports player.

"I like challenging myself against the best players I can find and beating them."

Robinson will golf at Black Hills State UniversityReese Robinson grew up playing competitive soccer, but turned her attention to golf when she got to high school. On Wednesday, she signed with Black Hills State University, which is an NCAA Division II school in Spearfish, South Dakota.

"I wasn't sure I wanted to play golf in college, but something clicked this year," Robinson said. "I really love golf and I want to keep competing as a golfer."

Robinson — who plans to study exercise science — said she liked Black Hills' campus and what the school offered.

"It's a pretty small enrollment, and I like knowing I'll get to know all my professors," she said. "I know the coach, and I think it's going to be amazing."

The Yellow Jackets coach is Craig Marsh, who spent several seasons as the head coach at Kelly Walsh High in Casper. Robinson learned a lot about Marsh from playing rounds with Kelly Walsh girls, and liked what she heard about him.

Robinson placed 20th at the Class 4A state tournament her sophomore and junior seasons. She was 34th as a senior.

"She has come a long way since she was a freshman," Indians coach Mike Lepore said. "Her game has become a lot better, and she played great last fall. Hopefully, if we ever get outside again, she'll have a good spring."

English inks with JamestownMathew English expected to win Central's starting goalkeeper job during his junior season. He knew a strong season would give him plenty of video to share with college coaches. However, the campaign was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of waiting for opportunities, English went to a number of out-of-state camps to show what he could do.

"I was trying to seen and get my name out there," English said.

He signed with the University of Jamestown (North Dakota) on Wednesday.

"I like how tiny the school and town are," English said. "The team and coaches were really welcoming to me. It's a program that loves to have its goalies use their feet, and I pride myself on being able to use my feet back there."

The temperature was minus-49 when English took his official visit, but that didn't scare him away. English — who plans to study business — lived in Minot, North Dakota, for nine years before moving to Cheyenne.

The Johnnies are getting a keeper with size, soft hands and a lot of upside, Central coach Tim Denisson said.

"We haven't had a keeper with his size for a number of seasons," Denisson said. "He has been spot on with his command of the game, direction of his offense and organization of the back. ... In our last game, he made 12 saves, which is an incredible number.

"He made saves that kept our team in it. The team is of positive spirit when he is back there."

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at

@jjohnke.