It’s a well-known fact that the majority of high school athletes see their careers in a particular sport end at graduation. Even with the pick-up games at the Y, the occasional marathons or the company softball games, organized competition usually isn’t the same after high school.

But not everyone is left to ponder the glory days of competing for a school. Thirty-six student-athletes who recently graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School have either signed letters-of-intent, or committed to accept an athletic scholarship, or indicated they will continue to pursue playing their respective sports at the collegiate level beginning next school year.

Down a bit from 57 last season, OPRF is still seeing a good crop of student-athletes continuing on to the college level. Football and softball produced the most college-bound athletes with five apiece. Here’s a closer look at a few of the notable OPRF athletes who have committed to playing college sports.

Brittany Smith (track and field), Illinois State

Multi-sport athlete Brittany Smith dazzled spectators with her prowess on the basketball court and with her skills as a track and field athlete for the Huskies. On back-to-back nights, Smith scored a total of 45 points to help lead the OPRF girls basketball team to two conference victories. She scored 27 points in a 57-51 victory over Downers Grove North, followed by an 18-point performance against York the very next night.

But Smith’s real athletic gift is in the discus and shotput events. She became the first girls track and field state champ from OPRF in 11 years when she won the discus event at the Class 3A State Meet in May.

Smith accepted a partial scholarship from Illinois State University and is excited about the challenge of competing at the next level.

“As I move onto the college level, I’m really looking forward to competing with others from around the country, and my biggest hope is to do well at conference,” she says. “This will also be my first year where I am concentrated on just one sport. But one of my biggest excitements for competing at the college level is the constant traveling and new experiences.”

Smith adds that she expects the competition to be intense at ISU, but is prepared for what’s to come.

“When considering my high school experience, I feel as though this will lead me to be more confident,” she says. “I also understand that this experience, where I was the underdog, and later at the top, will be my reminder once I get to college, that you have to constantly work in order to make it to the top.”

Smith said she’s keeping active over the summer with some light workouts, while even playing pick-up basketball.

Peter Geraghty (track and field), North Central College

Peter Geraghty will literally soar to new heights while at North Central College next year. OPRF’s star pole vaulter, who finished fourth in the state during his final year of high school competition, is sure to make a significant impact at the Division III school.

“I feel pretty prepared for college because OPRF has helped me become more focused as a student as well as an athlete,” he says.

Geraghty, whose older brother Tom also excelled in the event while at OPRF, vaulted to a height of 15-feet-6-inches to finish fourth at state. His coach, Tim Gamble, expects him to go well above that mark in the future.

“I believe that if Peter is able to stay healthy and his school is a good fit, he will be jumping more than a foot higher in the next two years and perhaps two feet higher before the 2016 Olympic trials,” says Gamble. “And both those predictions may be conservative. His work ethic, motor I.Q. and kinesthetic awareness are just a few of the reasons. Plus, he really likes vaulting.”

Geraghty says he’s aware that with the advancement to another level of competition comes heavier competition, but he insists it will only make him work harder.

“I anticipate that the collegiate experience will be more intense, and the hope is to surround myself with athletes that have a love as deep as or deeper than I do for pole vaulting.”

Audrey Reardon (water polo) University of Hawaii

Audrey Reardon will take her impressive water polo scoring skills to a tropical location in the fall. Reardon, the OPRF girls water polo team’s leading scorer who netted over 175 goals her senior year, will play for the University of Hawaii.

Reardon was a force for the Huskies, even scoring seven goals in each of three victories during a triple-header at the St. Charles North Tournament earlier this season.

No doubt Reardon will adjust quickly to collegiate play at the University of Hawaii, which finished in fourth place at the NCAA Championships this year.

Note: A story about Fenwick student-athletes on their way to play at the collegiate level will run in next week’s edition.

Contact: bspencer@wjinc.com

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...