The Next Level column takes a look at NEMO natives who have continued their athletic careers in a collegiate sport.

This roundup of area athletes by no means covers every student from the Hannibal area now participating in collegiate sports. Our goal is to highlight as many as we can over the course of the year. Please email if you have information that could help point us in the right direction to recognize these individuals.

Former Hannibal stars make impact on college gridiron

Former Hannibal High School football standout Shamar Griffith officially traded red and white for gold and black as a member of the Missouri Western State program. 

Hannibal's all-time career rushing leader kicked off his collegiate football career Aug. 31 when Missouri Western lost its season opener 14-3 on the road to Nebraska Kearney. Griffith displayed his game-changing speed on a pair of kickoff returns for a combined 54 yards. His second return went for 37 yards.

Former Hannibal linebacker Dalton Huffman also began his freshman campaign with Culver-Stockton. The bruising defender is off to a strong start being as hard a hitter in college as he was for a Pirates team that went to back-to-back state quarterfinals when he was an upperclassman.

The freshman was second on the Wildcats in tackles with 11 during C-SC's season-opening loss at Central Methodist. Huffman followed that with three tackles, including one for loss, during a loss to Mid-America Nazarene last Saturday.

Powell gets first action with Stanford 

Former Hannibal High School all-state lineman Dylan Powell waited patiently to get his first opportunity for playing time with the Stanford University football team.

After not seeing action as a freshman, the 284-pound sophomore entered during the fourth quarter of Stanford's 62-7 win over Rice in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 26. The pride of New London even got some air time on ESPN, which televised the game.

Stanford faces the University of Southern California at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Pacific-12 contest will be televised on FOX.

Pair of Mark Twain grads run first collegiate race

Mark Twain High School graduate Madalyn Ford ran her first collegiate cross country race with Columbia College last Saturday morning at the Southwest Baptist University Bearcat Invitational in Bolivar, Mo.

Ford finished the 5K race in 22:08.81, good for 56th place out of 72 runners. The mark was the fourth-fastest on the Lady Cougars, who placed seventh of nine in the team standings. The New London native is one of five freshmen on Columbia's roster under the direction of second-year coach Tracy Jex.

Ford's former Lady Tigers teammate, Katie Neff, kicked off her freshman collegiate season for Culver-Stockton at the Great River Open last Friday. 

Neff crossed the finish line for the 5K race in 19:45 to earn 20th place overall out of 29 runners. Her time was the third-best for the Lady Wildcats, who are led by third-year coach Alan King.

Welch scores pair of goals in HLGU's first win

Hannibal native Kendal Welch helped her hometown Hannibal-LaGrange University women's soccer team to its first win of the season on Labor Day afternoon.

Welch netted two goals during an 8-1 win over Lincoln Christian University that improved the Lady Trojans' record to 1-3.

The sophomore midfielder's first tally came in the 10th minute from about 20 yards away when she sent the ball over the outstretched arms of Lincoln keeper Mikayla Smith. She followed that score with another in the 35th minute off an assist from teammate Mary Meza.

With the standout game, Welch eclipsed her 2016 season total of one goal as a freshman.