Cole Rickermann

Cole Rickermann

On the third day of football training camp at Lincoln University last summer, Cole Rickermann threw a deep pass and felt a sharp pain in his shoulder.

“I felt like my shoulder separated,” said Rickermann, a 2022 Festus graduate, who set all kinds of passing records playing quarterback for the Tigers.

After months of rehab following surgery on New Year’s Eve for a torn labrum, Rickermann tried out April 2 for the new men’s basketball team at Jefferson College. Once head coach Cornelius Walker saw Rickermann still had the guard skills that made him the Jefferson County Activities Association large-schools MVP in 2022, he offered him a spot on the revived Viking men’s team, which will take the court this winter for the first time since the 1980s.

“Before I committed, (Walker) saw my film from my senior year, but he wanted to see if I could produce after not playing basketball for six months,” said Rickermann, who admitted to being gassed from all the running and that his conditioning still isn’t back.

“I like his versatility,” Walker said. “He can play any guard position. He can knock down the 3-ball as well.”

Besides the injury setback, Rickermann said he switched sports and left Lincoln, in Jefferson City, because he wanted to attend college closer to home.

“I decided to come home after the first semester; it wasn’t the best fit for me,” Rickermann said. “The way things were run didn’t suit my style. I was going to come home and go to school, regardless.”

Rickermann is the third player to commit to Jeffco, following Herculaneum senior Gabe Watkins and Soldan senior Steven Bonner, two of the top scorers in the St. Louis area with 18 and 22 points per game respectively.

“It’s a really great opportunity to be a part of something that hasn’t been a thing for so long,” Rickermann said. “That has some kind of specialty to it.”

Walker anticipates that by the end of May, his final roster will have 15-18 players, including walk-ons.

“If we had to play a game then, we could,” Walker said. “I’d like to keep some open spots throughout the summer.

“My biggest thing is, I want guys who want to be a part of what I’m doing. If you come here and are hesitant about where you want to go, I don’t feel like we have what you want.”

Playing with a roster he didn’t recruit, Walker finished his first season as the Jeffco women’s coach with a record of 9-23. None of the women players were from Jefferson County, although that will change this fall when Festus senior Josie Allen arrives. She was the JCAA large-schools MVP this year.

“The girls program is coming along,” Walker said. “I knew the boys would be a harder sell because the program isn’t there and they don’t have anything to go off of. (But) you can be the face of the program, something new and different.”

After his hiring last year, one of the first things Walker did was organize a group of all-star basketball games April 13-15 on the campus in Hillsboro. There were four games (two boys, two girls) for middle school and four games for high school players.

During one of the boys games, a tornado warning triggered sirens and forced everyone into the basement at the field house. When the storms cleared, the games resumed, but in a three-on-three halfcourt setting. Walker said they didn’t want to cancel the event after the storm because people had driven a long way to play or watch.

“That was a good turnout,” Walker said of the all-star event. “For me it was about getting the kids on campus and allowing the community to see the school, gym and me.

“I felt like everyone who participated was provided a safe environment and we brought everyone back up (after the storm passed). Next year, there will be better coordination and I’m going to try and get as many athletes (as I can) in our county. Next year will be bigger and better.”

Branch breaks Festus jump records again

Rickermann’s old backcourt running mate, Festus senior and Purdue University-bound Arhmad Branch, set school records in the long jump and triple jump earlier this season, then broke both again at the Corey Siebert Invitational at Rockwood Summit on April 15.

In the long jump, Branch leaped 6.95 meters, and in the triple jump his mark was 14.30. Joining Hayden Bates, Reece Johnson and Avery Edwards, Branch also ran a leg on the Tiger 4x200-meter relay that won in 1:29.76, the second-fastest time in Class 4 this season. Festus edged Cahokia (Ill.) 104-101 for the boys team championship.