LENA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — It’s hard to say what’s most impressive about Lena-Winslow’s football program. Is it the four state championships the Panthers have won in the last decade or all the Division One players that program has produced? The Panthers latest championship was won last November. Their latest D-1 commitment came Wednesday.
It was Sean Ormiston’s turn this time to put his signature on a document committing the next few years of his life to a college. He signed as a preferred walk on with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
“Shortly after Christmas that’s when I started telling my family that’s what I want to do, and the second week in January or something like that I finally told coach (Seth) Wallace the linebacker coach there that’s my decision to continue playing for them,” said Ormiston.
Ormiston rushed for almost 1,954 yards and he scored 30 touchdowns last season. He finished his high school career as the Northwest Upstate Illini conference’s all-time rushing leader with 4,741 yards and 67 touchdowns. He also played linebacker, and at the moment that’s the position Iowa coaches are projecting he’ll play.
“Right now they’re thinking linebacker, but they said they’re not opposed to giving me the opportunity to play fullback,” said Ormiston.
“At this point he’s got his foot in the door and he’ll go there and he’ll embrace any role that they stick him in, and he’ll work extremely hard for them,” said Lena-Winslow head football coach Ric Arand. “He’s a walk on, but they’re getting an awful good football player and a great kid.”
Ormiston is the third current Lena-Winslow, IL student who has decided to go to Iowa. Senior defensive lineman Isaiah Bruce signed with the Hawkeyes in December. Junior offensive lineman Gennings Dunker has verbally committed to the Hawkeyes. It’s amazing to think that a small, rural, public school (NW Illinois) of 231 total students could produce three Iowa Hawkeyes right in a row.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Bruce. “No one would ever think that a 1A school could produce three, even one Big Ten or Power 5 athletes. It’s amazing what we do here! It makes a difference.”
And don’t forget another former Lena-Winslow Panther Rahveon Valentine was at Division I Northern Illinois University this past fall until a series of concussions ended his playing career.
“They’re totally different kids,” said Arand of the four players. “But they have a lot in common and the number one thing is they worked their tails off to get to where they’re at, and they’re great athletes.”
“I definitely think we have a unique situation here. It makes you think we should have won a lot more games in that time (chuckling), but we’ll take it.”
Ormiston says he plans to major in Nuclear Medical Technology or in Kinesiology at Iowa.