Tanner Houghton visited the University of Chicago for a weekend this winter, when the temperature was below zero, and he loved it anyway.
Houghton was one of six Highland Park High School athletes who were honored on Wednesday for committing to various colleges in different parts of the country.
“I wanted to find a school where I could get a great education and where I could get to play,” said Houghton, an all-district linebacker for the Scots. “It didn’t matter the size of the program.”
Besides Houghton’s commitment to Chicago, there is swimmer Lauren Murski, who is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, another big-city school known for its academics.
“I really liked the people there. It was a social environment,” Murski said. “I think I’ll fit in on the team there. They’ve had a lot of success with distance swimmers.”
Basketball standout Clayton Murtha and tennis player Abby Zidell both will attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.
“It seemed like a perfect fit, both academically and athletically,” said Murtha, who helped lead the Scots to a District 10-4A title this season. “I always kind of wanted to go someplace a little cooler.”
Another tennis standout, Connor LaFavre, will play at Xavier University in Cincinnati, while baseball player Matthew Lillard committed to Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.
“It’s the best academic and athletic opportunity I have,” LaFavre said. “I loved the campus and I love the guys on the team.”
Lillard said the coaching staff at Millsaps, which reached the NCAA Division III World Series last season, based on a compilation of video highlights he sent prior to visiting the campus.
“It was incredible. The coach loved what he saw, and he hadn’t seen me play,” Lillard said. “It’s a small school and a nice campus. It will be academically challenging.”