Three student athletes from Durango High School committed to play college ball during the early signing period.
Mason Rowland signed her letter of intent to play basketball for Colorado Mesa University.
Riley Campbell signed her letter to play soccer for Western Colorado University.
Zayda Mestas signed with the Oregon Institute of Technology to golf for the Owls.
“It’s a tribute to them individually, one for their athletic ability, but also because of the work they’ve done,” said DHS athletic director and head girls basketball coach Tim Fitzpatrick. “Not every kid gets the opportunity to play at the next level. To sign early is something special.”
Rowland is an all-state volleyball, basketball and soccer player for DHS, but said she knew she wanted to pursue basketball since the end of her freshman year. Rowland earned all-state honorable mentions in basketball as a freshman and sophomore before receiving a second-team honor last year after she led Colorado’s Class 4A in scoring. Rowland averaged 20.3 points per game, shooting 44% from the field, to help DHS reach the sweet 16 at the state tournament.
“It’s so competitive, it’s physical and you can go out and play and show your athletic ability,” Rowland said. “I like how it’s individual, but also a team sport.”
Rowland said she considered other schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, including Fort Lewis, CSU Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines.
“A big reason I was looking at RMAC schools was I’d have a chance to come home,” Rowland said.
Mesa seemed like the right fit for her.
“When I went on a visit, I had an immediate connection with the girls,” she said. “I like the coaching staff a lot too. They’ve seen me play in high school, so they have a good grasp on what I can do.”
Rowland also committed herself to basketball over the summer, competing for the New Mexico Clippers in Albuquerque in the Select 40 league. The team competed in California, Kentucky, Ohio and Arizona.
“It was a big eye opener for me,” Rowland said. “I knew my size would be an issue because there were some tall girls, but now I know I can hang with them.” Rowland is 5-feet, 7 inches.
Rowland missed most of Durango’s volleyball season after getting a stress fracture in a vertebrae. She’s been able to practice for the upcoming basketball season though and is eager to return to competition.
“I’m feeling great; I took the two months that I needed, and now I’m ready to come out and play,” Rowland said. “(Missing volleyball) was more of a mental thing for me, but I wouldn’t change anything. Now I know I have to play every game like it’s my last because it very well could be.”
“She’s the ultimate competitor,” Fitzpatrick said. “Her work ethic, how she’s willing to go with 100% effort all of the time and her athleticism; you don’t often get an opportunity to coach a kid like that. She’s as decorated as anyone in my time. She’s the definition of a multisport athlete. When she puts in the time (in one sport), she’s going to sky rocket and do really well.”
Campbell will also compete in the RMAC for Western Colorado in Gunnison.
Campbell was an integral part of Durango’s semifinal run last year on the soccer field where she earned an all-state honorable mention nod. The midfielder led DHS with nine assists and scored four goals. The Demons finished 16-3 overall and reached the state semifinals.
Campbell was also one of the basketball team’s leaders last winter.
“I’m super excited for Riley; she’ll do well up there,” Fitzpatrick said. “She has a ton of natural ability. She’s long and tall, which is something you can’t teach. When she’s dialed in, she’s as good as anyone on the basketball court.”
Mestas, meanwhile, has been one of Durango’s most consistent golfers the past couple of years. She qualified for state as a sophomore and a junior, placing 35th and then 29th at the 4A championships. She shot a 75 to place second at the Chipeta Kickoff Classic to start last season and then continued reaching the podium at tournament after tournament.
She also finished fourth at the Class 4A Region 4 Championships in Montrose, leading Durango to state-qualifying second-place team finish.
Mestas will now join the Oregon Institute of Technology and compete for the Owls in the NAIA.