Three Saline seniors will continue their running days at Division 1 schools. Wednesday, Logan Wetzel, Abby Rentschler and Skyler Bowden officially signed their letters of intent. Wetzel will run at Villanova while Bowden and Rentschler have chosen Alabama.
Logan Wetzel is one of Michigan’s most celebrated high school runners. In cross country, he finished second in the state (in the second fastest time in school history) and was regional champion and league champ. As a junior on the track, he was all-state in the 800 and 1600 and was a member of the record-setting, state champion 4-by-8 relay.
Wetzel, who got national attention when he won the New Balance Nationals junior mile, has committed to continue his running career at Villanova. Choosing to run for the Wildcats was easy, Wetzel said.
“Villanova has great coaching and a history of being an excellent middle distance program, as well as excellent academics,” Wetzel said, who plans to study human physiology or kinesiology.
Wetzel said Villanova coaches were impressed by his consistent improvement throughout his high school career.
Wednesday’s college signing ceremony was no surprise to anyone who’s watched Wetzel these last two year. But there was a time when Wetzel feared his competitive running days were over. After a great freshman cross country and track season, Wetzel felt something pop in his knee while running in the regional track meet. Under his knee cap, a piece of cartilage was cut off.
“Not knowing if I was going to be able to keep running was really hard. But I got a lot of support from friends, family and coaches, and they helped me through it,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel had surgery and began running again late in his sophomore year. Midway through his junior year, Wetzel regained his position as one of the state’s top distance runners.
“Knowing where I’ve come from and what it took to get here, it’s a rewarding day,” Wetzel said. “I’m really excited for the future.”
Track Coach Al Leslie said Wetzel is the top distance runner in the state.
“Bar none, to me, he’s the best distance runner in the state. What makes him so important to us is that, great as he is, he puts the team first. He’ll go out and run three relays if we ask him to, and sacrifice his own individual accolades if it means helping his teammates be successful,” Leslie said. “That’s all you really need to know about Logan.”
Between his sophomore and junior year, Skyler Bowden went from being one of the school’s best sprinters to one of the state’s best sprinters.
In the 400, Bowden shaved nearly three full seconds off his best career time and earned all-state honors. In the 200, he shaved more than a half-second off his career best and made the podium at the state meet.
Before moving on to Alabama, Bowden has big plans.
“I’d like to win the state championship in the 200 and 400 and hopefully get close to state history time in the 400,” Bowden said.
The 400 is Bowden’s signature event. And that’s what caught the coaches’ attention at Alabama.
“They like my 400. They like my form,” said Bowden.
Bowden will study education – at a discounted rate thanks to a 30 percent scholarship that’s owed in large part to a terrific indoor season.
“I’m happy about the scholarship. I originally anticipated a couple hundred dollars,” Bowden said. “But my times in the indoor season really bumped it up.”
Bowden said he chose Alabama because of the connection he developed with the coach, the campus atmosphere, and the caliber of the program.
Saline coach Al Leslie remembers when Bowden came to track and field from baseball.
“Once he got a taste of track, there was no turning back. He’s a hard-working kid who is driven to be the best,” Leslie said.
Abby Rentschler is a distance runner who enjoyed great success in track and field and in cross country as a freshman and sophomore. She was recruited by Alabama, where she’s a preferred walk on.
As a junior, Rentschler struggled through injuries and was beginning to question the idea of a post-secondary running career.
She was recruited by Alabama coach Adam Tribble, who reached out to her last summer.
“Coach Adam Tribble was one of the only coaches who reached out to me, so I kind of had him in my mind. I didn’t think I was going to run in college, but I visited Alabama at the end of November. I met with him, and he was a really nice guy. I visited al the athletic facilities and they were state of the art. The campus is beautiful,” Rentschler said.
The trip to Alabama energized Rentschler, who had a terrific indoor season. She plans to end her high school career on a high note.
“I want to prove to everyone – and mostly myself – that I deserve this, because it’s been a rough road the past couple seasons,” Rentschler said.
Rentschler plans to study biology or chemistry. She’ll continue running the mile and two-mile.
“My goal is to qualify for outdoor nationals for the two mile,” Rentschler said.
Saline coach Mike Smith has coached Rentschler since her freshman year. He said Rentschler is well-deserving of the opportunity.
“She’s had a great career here and fought back from injuries and difficulties. I think she has a lot of ambition and some unfinished business,” Smith said. “She’s a success story – and not just on the track. She is a great kid in the classroom. There are kids who deserve this kind of stuff and she’s one of them.”
Rentschler was a captain of the cross country team and is a captain of the track and field team.