WAITSBURG — During stellar athletic careers at Waitsburg-Prescott, Seth Deal and Dalton Estes didn’t find themselves on the same fields of play too often.
Sure, they were on the W-P basketball team together, but in the fall and spring, they found themselves exceling at different sports.
What they do have in common, however, is turning those different sports into athletic scholarships to four-year colleges.
Deal has competed in Washington state Class 2B cross country and track and field meets since he was a freshman.
His best finish at the state cross country meet was fourth his sophomore year, and he placed second in the 1,600 meters and third at the 3,200 at last spring’s state track meet.
Deal has higher expectations as his senior track season begins.
Estes, on the other hand, spent falls on the gridiron and spring on the baseball diamond.
His versatility helped W-P’s football team to a 35-3 overall record during his three-year starting career, including a state championship his junior season.
On Feb. 21, Deal signed his letter of intent to run for Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, while Estes opted to play wide receiver for Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.
And their coaches couldn’t be much prouder of their achievements.
“I was so pleased last week when Seth informed me that he signed with Lewis-Clark,” W-P cross country and track coach Joanna Lanning said. “I have coached Seth since he was in the eighth grade. He is a coach’s dream — a dedicated and astute athlete who trains harder than anyone else. He has made me a better coach and has earned every accolade he’s received.”
Jeff Bartlow coached Estes to all-state status during his final two seasons with the W-P football team.
“I think it is a great fit for him,” Barlow said of Estes’ decision to attend EOU. “I think he can play at Eastern Oregon.”
Deal had a few regrets after his 13th-place finish at the state cross country meet last fall, something he has an opportunity to alleviate with the Warriors.
“I didn’t have a great finish at state,” he said, “I think my iron was low.”
But his finishes at the state track meet last spring leave him optimistic for the upcoming track season.
“My goal is to win district in both the 1,600 and 3,200, and win either one at state and place high in the other,” Deal said.
He’s been training with Lanning in preparation for his last prep track season to that end.
“She’s running workouts for me, and that’s going really well,” he said. “I’m really excited about what is coming (this spring). The 2B state (meet) is going to be very competitive this year. They’ll be good races.”
“We look forward to his final track season as a high school track star,” Lanning said, “and expect him to do very well.”
After that, Deal takes his spikes to Lewiston, a decision influenced heavily by cross country and track coach Mike Collins.
“They’ve had some of the best teams in the NAIA,” Deal said. “It’s a really good program.”
And the location of LCSC also helped make up his mind.
“It’s not much of an environment change for me,” Deal said. “And the campus is really nice. The smaller campus and class size is good for me.”
“He visited several colleges and felt that this program was a good fit,” Lanning said. “He will definitely be an asset to their team.
“I plan on watching him run as a collegiate next fall, and am already mourning his absence.”
While Deal heads east, Estes looks south and teams with former W-P quarterback Zach Bartlow, who joined the Mountaineers last year. Estes is W-P’s all-time leading receiver, and also saw time at running back while punting and kicking point-after-touchdowns, as well.
He was the team’s MVP last fall after switching to running back from receiver and piling up more than 1,000 yards as W-P followed its state championship with a state semifinal run.
“I was pretty versatile,” Estes said of his W-P career.
And going 35-3 over three years is a highlight.
“That was something,” he said. “It was a lot of fun to win the state championship, and to go 35-3 still gives me goose bumps thinking about it.”
“He really was our MVP this year and was a great leader for us,” coach Bartlow said of Estes. “We will sorely miss him.”
Estes explored playing baseball at LCSC in Lewiston, and possibly football at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, “but I fell in love with Eastern Oregon when I visited,” he said.
He also was attracted to the fact that the Mountaineers value community service, something that’s played a big part in his life.
“I always enjoy giving back to my community,” Estes said.
It doesn’t hurt to have his old teammate Barlow in La Grande, either.
“Having somebody down there you know helps,” he said. “Playing ball with him again is going to be fun.
“The competition level is going to raise the bar a little bit,” Estes said of playing at the collegiate level.
But he places an emphasis on his education as he pursues a career in either physical therapy or mathmatics.
“I’m a student-athlete, with student coming first,” he said.
Both Deal and Estes express their gratitude to all the people that played a part in getting them to the collegiate level — in athletics as well as scholastically.
“I want to thank all the teachers, coaches and family members that have helped me get to where I am,” Estes summed up. “Without their help, “I’d never have reached playing college football.”