Two members of the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team that finished as the best team in school history and the state runner-up in the fall signed letters of intent Thursday afternoon.
Jonathan Turnley and Alex Richt each signed up to continue their soccer careers into college. Turnley chose Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., while Richt opted to go to Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.
Turnley was named to the All-Centennial League first team as well as the all-state first team as a midfielder. He holds the all-time record at Manhattan for most career assists and most assists in a single season, while scoring 23 goals throughout his career.
He said his decision was spurred on by a family connection to Presbyterian.
“It’s a great school, and they have a great soccer program, so it’s a great environment at the school,” he said. “Also, I have a connection to the school, my granddad attended Presbyterian College, and I have a lot of family in the area.”
Turnley said he plans to major in physics or engineering, perhaps enrolling in a dual-major program.
Richt was an all-league goalkeeper for the Indians, while holding the single-season school record for most shutouts. He saved 80 percent of his shots this year, while allowing just 15 goals this past fall.
His decision came down to playing time, as well as academics.
“I really wanted to play somewhere that cares about their players academically, and Graceland is very strong academically,” he said. “They put a big emphasis on family and developing their players and really trying to create an environment with a winning tradition as well as guys with good character.
“Hopefully if I do my part I’ll get playing time as a freshman, and the whole situation there is exactly what I’m looking for.”
Manhattan head coach Frank Alonso said he is proud of his players for choosing to play at the next level.
“They’re great students, great guys and some of the best players to come through the program that I’ve seen,” he said.
“They’re at the top of the lists that I have as both players and teammates. They would both probably have a fighting chance to be in the all-time top 11. They deserve the recognition and the success they’re going to get.”
Alonso said midfielder Matt Liotta is also likely to sign in the coming weeks, giving the Indians three college signees.
“The truth is, we probably on average get six to eight players that can go play in college, and most of them don’t,” Alonso said. “So this is an unusual year to get three that wanted to go and play at a high level. It’s nice to see it. They deserve it and they are ready to contribute as freshmen.
“Good luck to them, and it’s going to be hard to replace them. I fully expect them to tear it up at the next level.”