Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Prose and Kohn

Former East County high school athletes excel at next level

These five alums are continuing their success on the collegiate and professional levels.


Lakewood Ranch High graduate Ashley Pater, a freshman at the University of Southern California, helped the Trojans win a fourth-state NCAA Championship.
Lakewood Ranch High graduate Ashley Pater, a freshman at the University of Southern California, helped the Trojans win a fourth-state NCAA Championship.
Courtesy image
  • East County
  • Sports
  • Share

After a gap year spent playing professional beach volleyball tournaments and honing her game, Ashley Pater is ready to play for the University of Southern California beach volleyball team. 

The expectations at USC are simple: Win a national title. 

It might seem lofty to hold that as an expectation rather than a goal, but USC has won three-straight national titles and five of the seven total titles since the sport was sanctioned by the NCAA in 2016. The University of California-Los Angeles won the other two, in 2018 and 2019. 

It is within that context that Pater, a Lakewood Ranch High graduate, joins the Trojans. The primary beach volleyball season does not begin until the spring, but at USC, the work toward that point begins early. The Trojans played in an offseason tournament Oct. 20 in Los Angeles to stay sharp — Pater's first tournament with the program — and Pater went 3-0 in her matches. 

She's loving every second of being a student-athlete. 

"The amount of benefits you get is amazing," Pater said. "There are (trainers) ready to treat you whenever you want. There are tutors available for any subject. There are ice baths. There are 'fueling stations' and an athletic dining hall. And getting to meet all the other student-athletes here is cool. There are so many of them and watching them is inspiring. We're a family here." 

Unsurprisingly, Pater said the most difficult adjustment she's had to make this year is balancing her time. With those great benefits comes responsibilities, not just on the court but in the classroom. 

"As a freshman, there's so much you want to do and experience, but you have to manage things so you're at your max every practice and workout," Pater said. 

Pater will learn to do that with time. On the court, she's already succeeding, and seems to be an important part of USC's plan to go for the four-peat next spring. 

Here are four other area alumni finding lots of success — in college and beyond. 


DeShaun Fenwick, Oregon State University

Fenwick, the former Braden River High running back, is not the Beavers' starter in the backfield, but he is a key contributor on the offense of the No. 12-ranked team in the Associated Press Poll as of Oct. 20. 

Fenwick has made the most of his senior season. As of Oct. 20, he has 67 carries for 382 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He also has five catches for 29 yards. His best game actually came in the team's lone defeat of 2023, a 38-35 road loss to Washington State on Sept. 23. The loss wasn't Fenwick's fault. He had 11 carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns. 

Former Braden River High running back Deshaun Fenwick signed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent April 27.
Courtesy image

It has been a special season for the Beavers. The No. 12 ranking is the program's highest mark since 2012, when they reached No. 7. 


Grace Marston, Georgia Tech

The former Lakewood Ranch High cross country and track and field runner is a sophomore at Georgia Tech. Sometimes it can take runners, even great ones, some time to get up to speed in college. Marston is trying her best to buck that trend. 

As a freshman, Marston qualified for the Women's 1,500 Meter finals at the 2023 Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, held in Raleigh, North Carolina, in May, and finished 27th (4:40.76). She has carried that success over to cross country season as a sophomore. On Sept. 1, Marston finished 11th (17:55.5) at the Kennesaw State Stan Sims Cross Country Opener 5K, held in Acworth, Georgia. Two weeks later on Sept. 15, Marston finished 23rd (17:57.2) in the three mile race at the 2023 Mountain Dew Invitational, held in Gainesville. 


Taylor Upshaw, University of Arizona

A Braden River High graduate, Upshaw began his college career with four years on the University of Michigan defensive line before briefly transferring to the University of Colorado as a graduate student for 2023 spring football practices. Over the summer, Upshaw — the son of former NFL defensive lineman Regan Upshaw — transferred again, this time to Arizona. 

With the Wildcats, Upshaw has settled into a starting position, something he could never find at Michigan. Through seven games, Upshaw has 12 tackles, but 6.5 of them have been tackles for loss, with 5.5 sacks, including one in Arizona's 44-6 upset win over then-No. 19 Washington State on Oct. 14. The Wildcats are 4-3 and could reach their first bowl game since 2017 — but a matchup with Fenwick and Oregon State on Oct. 28 will be a significant challenge. That game will air at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN. 


Sasha Pastujov

After being selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2021 NHL Draft, Lakewood Ranch native Sasha Pastujov spent the 2022 season playing a final season of junior hockey, racking up 98 points (41 goals, 57 assists) in 60 games split between the Guelph Storm and the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. 

In 2023, Pastujov has started his professional hockey journey. Pastujov was assigned by the Ducks to the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League — one step below the NHL, the equivalent of Triple A baseball. Pastujov, 20, will now have a chance to show the Ducks he's ready for the NH. The winger recorded his first point, a primary assist, in his first game with the Gulls on Oct. 13. 

 

author

Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

Latest News