High School Sports

Lawrence’s Amani Bledsoe relishes recruiting process

Lawrence’s Amani Bledsoe, who won the Buck Buchanan award, is going to Oklahoma.
Lawrence’s Amani Bledsoe, who won the Buck Buchanan award, is going to Oklahoma. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Life in the spotlight was not always easy or exiting for top-ranked recruit Amani Bledsoe.

Bledsoe, a Lawrence defensive end, took his time with the recruiting process, waiting till the final week of early commitments, before announcing his decision to attend the University of Oklahoma on Twitter.

He said he was relieved when he finally eliminated Baylor and Kansas as his two other finalists.

“It was really fun at first, and then it got stressful,” Bledsoe said. “It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time, but you only get to experience it once. It’s pretty cool.”

Bledsoe made his official visitto Norman, Okla., in late October and liked how the town reminded him of Lawrence. He officially signed on Wednesday and plans to pursue a degree in biology or health and exercise science.

“It’s really exciting because it lets you know everything is official and set it stone,” Bledsoe said. “You get to start a new chapter in your life.”

The Star's Sam McDowell and Kathleen Gier provide coverage of Kansas City high school athletes on National Signing Day.

Bledsoe was the Sunflower League’s Most Valuable Player with 89 tackles and 11 sacks for the Chesty Lions. He also won the Buck Buchanan Award as the most outstanding lineman or linebacker in the top two classifications in the Kansas City area.

Lawrence posted a perfect regula- season record and finished 10-1 with its first league title since 1993.

Cao sisters come in package deal

Shawnee Mission West senior twins Katherine and Josephine Cao were enjoying a refreshing ice-cream snack in sunny California when they were approached by a Memphis recruiter last summer.

He offered them exactly what they were looking for, a school where they could play together, and they made oral commitments on the spot. They completed the process Wednesday in front of friends and family in the school’s spring signing ceremony.

“No one has ever done what we have done here,” Josephine said. “It’s a lot of pressure going forward.”

The two made history as coach Paige Salveter’s first college scholarship recipients in her nine-year tenure. They take three Kansas Class 6A state titles with them to the Tigers.

They won doubles together in 2014, and Josephine took first in singles this season. She went 22-1 and was The Star’s All-Metro tennis player of the year. Katherine took fourth.

Pederson picks family legacy

Growing up, Blue Valley North’s Josh Pederson got used to regular trips to his father’s alma mater between trips to visit his grandparents in Louisiana.

He was living in New Jersey for most of that time but transferred to join the Mustangs for a few highly successful seasons before having to choose his next destination.

He said he narrowed his choices to a few schools, and his visit to Louisiana-Monroe sealed the deal. His father, new Philadelphia Eagles coach and former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, played there, which surely did not hurt.

“I went down for my official visit to ULM a couple weekends ago and they showed me a great time,” Josh Pederson said. “It was awesome.”

He highlighted a six-man signing class from the football team, which contributed to the largest ceremony in school history.

Pederson, a 6-foot-5 tight end, recorded 677 yards and 12 touchdowns in 48 receptions for the Mustangs. They finished 8-2 with a loss in the first round of the Kansas Class 6A state tournament.

“I was so lucky to join them,” Pederson said. “Our senior year was when we peaked.”