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Alumni corner: Local products Rylee Anderson, Skyler Messinger thriving at KU

COVID-19 pandemic cut spring seasons short for both student-athletes

Kansas' Rylee Anderson, a graduate of Silver Creek, continues to excel in the high jump at the next level.
Photo courtesy University of Kansas athletics
Kansas’ Rylee Anderson, a graduate of Silver Creek, continues to excel in the high jump at the next level.

During their high school days, Silver Creek alumnus Rylee Anderson and Niwot graduate Skyler Messinger were among Colorado’s best in their respective sports – track and baseball.

Both left the Centennial State to continue their athletic careers one state over at the University of Kansas. Off to great starts to their collegiate careers, Anderson and Messinger have both very much enjoyed their time in Lawrence so far.

“I feel like the team here was so welcoming, so it really made for a nice transition,” Anderson said recently. “Freshman year was a good year for me. Making it to indoor nationals was a goal for me. Every time I would PR, I would get into that 16th spot and then someone would take that spot. Then at the Big 12 meet, I got that 16th spot again so it was pretty cool to do that in the last meet of the season.”

As a freshman in 2019, Anderson was named a second-team All-American for finishing 13th in the high jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She also set a personal-best mark of 1.82 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, which has her already the No. 5 performance and made her the No. 4 performer in KU history.

Though her sophomore outdoor season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the NCAA to cancel all spring competition, Anderson has established herself and a top collegiate competitor and that has raised her own expectations for what she can accomplish at KU.

“I would like to be first team All-American and to place at nationals,” Anderson said. “I think I just need to jump a few more centimeters so at this point, it’s really just about having a good day.”

Anderson said one of the biggest challenges she has faced since leaving Silver Creek has been balancing school with the training and travel required of a Division-I athlete. That and just how much time the team spends on the road in general. For Messinger, he has had to adjust to a new position, playing mostly at third base since his freshman season after starring at shortstop in high school.

As a sophomore in 2019, Messinger batted .278 with 16 doubles and three triples. He homered twice and drove in 31 runs, also stealing a career-high nine bases on his way to being named to the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament team. His junior season also cut short, Messinger was batting .246 with four doubles and eight RBIs through 16 games this spring. He hit his only home run of the season against Belmont on Feb. 16.

“It’s been amazing to be able to play baseball at this level and go against the competition that the Big 12 has to offer,” Messinger said. “I’ve been fortunate to have some success. I was really looking forward to playing this year and the possibilities of what could come after that. I love it at KU. It’s a great fit for me.”

As a senior in high school, Messinger was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 22nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft. With his collegiate career somewhat in flux and having posted two solid seasons already, he once again has a choice to make depending on when and where he might be drafted in the future. One thing he does know is that he wants to play professionally at some point.

“That’s the goal, for sure,” Messinger said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m just trying to do what I can to prepare and let the rest take care of itself. I think I’ve made the right choice based on the experiences I’ve had in college, getting to play at these amazing parks all across the country. All I can do it wait and see.”