Newberry’s Faith Wilson and Zak Cetin only played for the Panthers for one season, but they both made the most of their opportunities and earned a chance to play at the next level and continue their education.
On Tuesday, Wilson signed to play volleyball at Rosemont College, a private Catholic liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, while Cetin inked his paperwork and will be headed to New York University.
“I never really thought that I was going to make it this far,” said Wilson, who noted that transferring from Gainesville High made a huge impact on her career. “I loved the one-on-one time that I got with Coach Hank (Rone) and I know at Rosemont I will be able to get that same one-on-one time and it will help me tremendously.”
Wilson had a dominating senior year at Newberry, which advanced to the Class 1A state playoffs and finished 18-11 this past fall.
She set the program record for blocks in a single season and led the state of Florida with 159 blocks.
Rone said she was open to tweaking a couple of things, including changing her swing and her blocking, and it paid off.
“She was one of those jumpers, she was borderline touching the rim, so her vertical was huge,” he said. “She was so coachable and worked hard over the summer and it really bled into our season where she totally dominated. I’ve never had a player that was so fast in the middle, and that’s why she was so dominant at the net.”
The senior also set a record for middle blockers at Newberry with 353 kills this year.
“She had the highest hitting percentage on the team,” Rone said. “Without her we would have struggled.”
Meanwhile, Cetin transferred in from St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville).
Cetin, who has a weighted 4.0 GPA, is a left-handed pitcher for the defending 1A state champions. He signed with NYU, a private school in New York City which requires you to be above average in your high school class.
“It’s a big moment,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. A year ago, it was in question whether I was going to play next year. I’ve always heard you don’t know when the time is going to come to hang up the cleats, but I’m just glad they gave me the opportunity.”
He was the starting pitcher in last night’s 6-5 win against unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Lafayette (Mayo).
Prior to last night’s game against the Hornets, Cetin was 3-0 with a 2.70 earned run average in seven appearances.
“Zak’s an unbelievable kid on and off the field,” said Newberry baseball coach Mike Spina. “He’s just a humble kid that works extremely hard and he’s going to NYU, which is a pretty academic school. He’s a leader on the field, he’s made some really good adjustments, and I think he’s going to do great things at the next level.”
In 23.1 innings pitched he was second on the team with 39 strikeouts.
He’s also among the offensive leaders with a .378 batting average, including a team-leading 14 runs driven in.
Cetin noted that Newberry gave him a chance to take harder classes which he couldn’t do at his previous school, plus he was going to a program that was coming off a state title.
“This school offered more AP’s and I was more flexible with my schedule,” he explained. “That was a rebuilding program and I needed to come to a more competitive program to get me ready to be in my best shape for next year.”
He also noted that it was a mental thing about playing at the next level and that the Newberry coaches unlocked that potential for him.