By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – A pair of Hot Springs High School senior student-athletes recently committed to continuing their education and sports careers – while continuing to don the color blue – as they will both attend Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, next year.
Hot Springs Bison boys’ golfer Chase Palo and Lady Bison volleyball player Andrea Norton will both be attending the private, liberal arts university, which competes athletically in the NAIA of the 12-team Great Plains Athletic Conference. Some of the other teams which are part of the GPAC include Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell), Mount Marty College (Yankton), Morningside College (Sioux City, Iowa) and Concordia University (Seward, Neb.).
Palo, the son of Gary and Mary Palo of Hot Springs, is a six-time letter winner and a three-time state qualifier for the Bison golf team. He is the third Palo sibling to go on and compete at the collegiate level in golf, following in the footsteps of older sister Emilie and older brother Jacob who both played golf at Dakota Wesleyan University. Jacob continues to do so and is a junior on the 2016 team.
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Chase plans to study business administration at Brian Cliff and will be doing so with a $23,500 combined annual academic/athletic scholarship. He will be coached by Ben Irlbeck, who is currently in his third year as head coach of the Charger men’s and women’s golf teams. Irlbeck is a graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University where he was the senior team captain and a two-time All-GPAC selection and a former SDGA Men’s Match Play champion.
Norton, the daughter of Mark and Tammy Norton of Hot Springs, has been one of the leaders on the Hot Springs volleyball team the past two seasons. Playing as both a middle hitter and outside hitter for the Lady Bison, she combined for a total of 193 kills on the team during her junior and senior seasons, which ranked second overall during the span.
Andrea is planning to earn a double-major at Briar Cliff, while studying biology and environmental science, thanks to a $22,500 combined annual academic/athletic scholarship. She will be coached by Trevor Shirman who recently completed his third year as the head coach of the Briar Cliff women’s volleyball team. He also, just this year, added a men’s volleyball team at the college as well. Born and raised in Hawaii, Shirman was the No. 1 high school volleyball recruit in the nation in 1986 and then later became a three-time first-team All-American at UCLA, and also named the national player of the year in 1989. He later competed as a member of the USA volleyball team from 1990-93.