Nolan Gromacki knows all too well the backgrounds of Jayce Tingler and Andrew Jones before they left Smithville to play Division I athletics at Missouri.
Now, the senior is the latest Warriors standout headed to Columbia. Late last month, the right-handed pitcher accepted a scholarship offer from the Tigers and announced his decision to commit to Missouri on Twitter (@OtherGromacki). The signing can become official this spring.
The first-team all-Midland Empire Conference and first-team all-district pick, who went 5-1 last year with a 1.01 ERA, bypassed an offer from Washington State, as well as Kansas State who showed interest but hadn’t formally extended an offer.
“It means a lot; it is a big deal and everyone in town is excited,” Gromacki said. “To be mentioned in the same context as Jayce Tingler (baseball) and Andrew Jones (football, basketball), who went to Missouri is definitely exciting. I looked at the opportunity to get the best education and play the best baseball I can. It is definitely a huge draw being in the SEC. It is some of the best baseball in the country and they are trying to be one of the best teams in the country, and change the status quo.”
Gromacki attended a camp in Columbia in late December and was extended an offer to return early in January to throw in front of the coaches again. Following that, the Tigers offered the 6-foot-1, 190 pound senior a scholarship.
He throws between 88 and 90 miles per hour for the Tigers staff, which expects his velocity to jump once he focuses on baseball. Gromacki spent the summer playing for Regal Plastic in the Ban Johnson League, being the only high schooler among a league mainly of area collegiate players.
“This is a huge step for Nolan and our program,” said Smithville coach Jeff Cain, whose Warriors are ranked No. 6 in the Missouri Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll. “Nolan has worked so hard for this and I am so happy for him.”
Gromacki will be the first Smithville player donning the Missouri baseball black-and-gold since Tingler’s all-American career from 2000-2003. Tingler is now the Texas Rangers’ minor league field coordinator.
Missouri finished 18-32 overall and 10-20 in its inaugural season in the SEC. The Tigers open this season on Feb. 14 vs. Richmond and return eight starters, including Central product Keaton Steele and former St. Joseph Mustangs infielder Shane Segovia.
Still wearing yellow
Tanner Troncin played only one year at East Buchanan, but his play on the field drew enough attention to warrant a chance to continue at the collegiate level.
Last week the senior signed to play linebacker at Graceland University an NAIA school in Lamoni, Iowa. The Yellowjackets — with a blue and yellow scheme similiar to East Buchanan’s — were 1-10 last season in Jeff Douglas’ fourth season at the helm.
The Plattsburg transfer sat out the 2012 season due to eligibility issues, but in his one season he led the Bulldogs with 87 tackles and earned all-conference notice in the KCI.
“He is a hard-nosed kid that understands the game,” said East Buchanan coach Kevin Bryan, who guided the Bulldogs to a 9-3 mark in 2013. “Tanner played quarterback before he outgrew the position, so he knows the offensive side of the ball. He is one of our captains, which is unusual for a move-in. He is a vocal kid and leads by example.”
Graceland started recruiting the 5-foot-11, 230 pounder midway through fall. The Yellowjackets’ roster last fall features two other linebackers from the area — South Harrison’s Billy Wendt and Polo’s Harley Martin.
According to the Maryville Daily Forum, the athletic program at Maryville High School will have a new leader next fall.
The paper reported last week the school created an athletic director position and reassigned current athletic/activities director Paul Snow.
“We looked at the current position of athletic/activities director and decided it was too much for one person,” Superintendent Larry Linthacum said to the paper. “When you consider the overall management and leadership component of the position in its current state, we decided it was in the district’s best interest to divide the duties.”
The search for an athletic director is under way. Snow will split his new duties — starting in the fall — between the district librarian and activities coordinator.
“This wasn’t my choice,” Snow told the paper. “I’m doing what I’m being asked to do.”