Vero Beach indoor volleyball star Madison Gravlee and beach volleyball star Katy Dalton are off to the University of Florida and Mercer University to continue their careers.
The duo was a top partnership on the sand last spring and a big reason why Vero Beach made a run all the way to the state championship match in the first year of the sport being a sanctioned FHSAA entity.
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Winning their district, Vero Beach came up one match short in the state final against New Smyrna Beach last year, but for Dalton, she hopes it’s a precursor for what is to come this spring even without Gravlee by her side.
“It was awesome to be able to be a part of it from the inaugural year,” Dalton said. “We’ve set the precedent, so I’m really excited to build on that and this year we’re going for first place. I’m excited to improve on what we started last year.”
Gravlee was sidelined last year for indoor volleyball with a shoulder injury and made her return to the sport in the beach season.
Her anticipated return to the court indoors was a huge success in her final year for Vero Beach.
Leading the team with 254 kills that included four matches of 20 kills or more, Gravlee also added 170 digs defensively.
While the team didn’t have the season they wanted to with a 9-16 record, Gravlee was grateful she was able to represent her school one more time as she will graduate in December and enroll early at Florida.
“It was great to be back out there senior year, I had a lot of fun with my senior class, a lot of great people,” Gravlee said. “Definitely wish we could have done better and gone farther. It was fun to be out there representing Vero.”
Knowing her future plans since she was a sophomore committed to the Gators, Gravlee is eager to make her way to Gainesville and earn her stripes.
Following in the footsteps of her mother, Julie, who played for the Gators from 1993-96, Gravlee’s father, Russ, also was a member of the Florida football team in 1999.
Signing Wednesday completed a dream for Gravlee since she was a little kid hoping one day she’d have the chance to play for Florida.
“It’s amazing, a dream come true,” Gravlee said. “I’ve been trying to get there my whole life with my parents going there so, it’s really exciting to sign that paper and it’s great to be a Florida Gator.”
Dalton has been committed to her future school for a while, deciding Mercer was her best fit and committing last summer.
Staying relatively close to home, Dalton will be joining one of her beach volleyball teammates from last year, Carly Lenhardt, in the program for the Bears after she wraps up her spring season for Vero in 2023.
“Mercer’s a great location and they have an undergrad neuroscience major,” Dalton said. “Once I went and visited, I immediately fell in love with the town, I love the coach and it felt like home immediately.”
St. Ed’s lacrosse stars Division I-bound
St. Edward’s senior lacrosse standouts Ricky Savage and Ford Norris will both continue their careers at the Division I level at Loyola and Manhattan.
Both players have been important to the rise of the program for the Pirates with standout seasons the past two years.
In 2021, Savage and Norris were vital to St. Edward’s offense as the team made a run all the way to the 1A state championship game.
Savage scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the regional final against Lake Highland Prep and scored six goals in the Pirates’ state semifinal win over Bolles.
Norris netted three goals in St. Edward’s 13-5 loss to St. Andrew’s in the state final and in their sophomore years, Savage had 43 goals and Norris had 27 goals.
Last year as juniors, Savage scored a team-high 62 goals and Norris netted 37 as he missed the beginning of the season recovering from an ACL injury sustained in the summer.
Savage has had an interest in Loyola for a long time, as he began getting college interest and loved everything the school presented to him as a student-athlete.
“I always had my eye on Loyola when I was younger,” Savage said. “My college counselor always thought it was a good fit for me with the lacrosse program at the Division I level and it also has the classroom environment that I need.”
For Norris, having family in the New York City area and an eye on opportunities outside of lacrosse drew him to Manhattan.
“I’ve always loved New York City. Manhattan is a 25-minute train ride to the city and my brother lives up there, lot of family nearby,” Norris said. “I’m really big into music so there could be some musical opportunities there. I’ve always dreamed of playing Division I lacrosse and Manhattan’s program is on the rise.”
Savage and Norris have been lifelong friends and have enjoyed pushing each other to improve their games over the years.
As they enter their final year playing together, they will each be relied upon as team leaders while trying to one-up each other to make the Pirates go.
“No matter what it is, whether it’s consistency, strategic thinking during the game, Ricky’s got it and I’m just trying to get on his level,” Norris said.
“He’s always around me, in school every day and in games, I can yell at him, and he can yell at me to be better and it’s always constructive criticism, which is a good thing because it makes our whole team better,” Savage said.
St. Edward’s lacrosse coach Doug Bailey has been thankful for the leadership both Savage and Norris have brought to his team and has not been surprised that each will have their chance to play at the Division I level.
“I’m pleased as punch for them and their families,” Bailey said. “They’ve both been raised by families that have given them a lot of opportunities but have also pushed them hard also to get to that next level.”