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Wahconah's Payton Shippee is flanked by his parents at Tuesday's National Letter of Intent signing ceremony.
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Wahconah senior Payton Shippee Saturday sets a Berkshire County record in winning the discus at the Niskayuna Spring Classic in April.

Wahconah's Shippee Signs Letter to Attend Kent State

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Wahconah track and field coach Joe Albano talks about recent graduate Payton Shippee's career.
DALTON, Mass. — In August, like hundreds of thousands of recent high school graduates, Payton Shippee will leave his family and head to college.
For him, unlike many, he should feel right at home.
Shippee, a two-sport standout at Wahconah Regional High School, Tuesday signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and compete in track and field at Division I Kent State University in Ohio.
"To have what I experienced in my collegiate athletic experience and have him follow in those footsteps is great," Shippee's dad, Gabe, said at Tuesday's signing ceremony in the atrium of the school.
"I've never pushed for him to go there. I wanted him to go wherever he wanted to. I do know it's a good school. Their track program is fantastic. Their coaching staff is great. I'm super excited for him to go out."
Gabe Shippee, who went to high school at Mohawk Trail Regional, knows about making the transition from Western Massachusetts to northeast Ohio. And he knows about the throwing program for the Golden Flashes, having thrown javelin himself at the school before graduating in 1999.
"He's really following in my footsteps, which is awesome," Gabe said. "[Payton] was hoping for some football stuff along the way. That didn't go quite the way that we anticipated. It's still on his radar. … But I personally feel like he's going to fall in love with Kent's program and the coaching staff and teammates.
"It becomes an instant family when you're on a Division I team."
Shippee said he is familiar with the Kent State campus from trips to the school with his family when he was younger. On Wednesday, he will make his first "official" visit when he steps on the campus to participate in a student orientation program.
He was a high school quarterback and fifth-place finisher in the discus at this month's New England High School Outdoor Track and Field Championship in New Hampshire, repeating his place from the all-state meet in May.
And on Tuesday, Shippee said he had consideration from Division II and Division III schools to play football collegiately. But, in the end, he wanted to follow his dream to test himself against the best college athletes in the nation.
"I told myself in seventh or eighth grade, Division I," Shippee said. "That's been my goal. So I really waited for that. I took my chance when I got it."
And now he has a chance to go to a school that has won three Mid-American Conference team championships in the 2000s, most recently in 2022. Shippee will also get to train with a coach, KSU Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Nathan Fanger, who has coached throwers to 82 individual MAC titles and 89 appearances in NCAA regional meets since he started coaching at his alma mater in 2000.
"Kent State is one of the best programs you can get for track and field around," Shippee said. "That's their golden sport. They love to be able to support it. And I'm glad to be able to go to a program who cares so much about track, especially with it being an underrated sport.
"I feel like people overlook track a lot and don't really take into account how athletic you have to be to be able to achieve some things in track. I'm glad that Kent doesn't do that."
There is no overlooking the impact that Shippee has had at Wahconah, according to track and field coach Joe Albano said.
"I could go down the list of awards he earned for Western Mass and States, but you all know that," Albano said from the podium before Shippee inked his letter. "I think what's important is that we are losing a quality person, and Kent State is gaining a quality person.
"If this is the type of person that Kent State is recruiting, you want your kid to go there."
Wahconah head football coach Gary Campbell Jr. agreed.
"He goes and gets operations on both knees, setback," Campbell said. "A lot of kids would stop. There's a built-in excuse. Zero excuses from you, Payton. Never has been and never will be. From there, he comes back for his junior year in great shape.
"A lot of people this year are extrinsically motivated. They need a crowd. They need someone to pump them up. Don't need that with this kid. You just need your own intrinsic motivation. That is that DI mentality: 'I'm coming to work every single day, and I'm bringing it every single day.' "
It was a long road to turn that "DI mentality" into a DI opportunity, and Shippee was happy he made the trip.
"I applied [at Kent State] and got accepted, and I didn't really think much of it," he said. "Then the coach reached out and said, 'I really like your stats,' and wanted me to go there. I had been to Kent a couple of times before, and I like the campus. I thought it was definitely a place where I could see myself being for the next four years.
"It was a relief [to get that call]. It was such a long process. We've been trying to get recruited for two years now, football or track. Football was my main one. And then track and field came around, and I had a great senior season. That call came in, and it felt like a weight was off my shoulders — to be able to bring my talents to a school and have somebody give me a chance to prove myself."

Tags: letter of intent,   track & field,   Wahconah,   

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