"USA, USA, USA." We have all heard the chants supporting our amateur athletes in various competitions over the years. Many of us have even dreamed of being on the receiving end of those chants, with USA plastered across the front of our jersey. For two young men from McPherson they have begun the journey to make that dream a reality.

Dylan Werries and Hunter Alvord were each selected in their age group to move on in the National Team Identification Series to the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. The 2017 NTIS is the most comprehensive player identification program offered by Team USA. Werries, in the 17U division, and Alvord, in the 13U, participated in a selection event and tryout in July at Oklahoma Univerity, where each landed a spot on their regional team.

Alvord will be in North Carolina Aug. 9-13, while Werries NTIS time is Aug. 24-27. From the final NTIS event USA Baseball will invite a minimum of 62 players to future National Team Trials, National Team Development Program and Tournament of Stars opportunities with the ultimate goal of being selected to represent our country as part of Team USA in 2018.

To get to the OU Midwest tryout, players were invited to send in a video of themselves throwing and hitting, along with throwing velocity and bat speed. From those, coaches evaluated the invitees and hand selected those players who were to come to the Midwest tryout. Of those players, finalist were chosen to represent their region and compete with players from 15 other regions at the NTIS in North Carolina.

"I've always had a dream of playing for the USA team," said Werries. "I have seen that they go to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and the major leagues have all those Dominican players that are really good and I have always wanted to play against them."

For Werries, a lifelong baseball player, it is just the next logical step in his quest to reach the highest level of the game. He also said it was unusual but exciting for him to tryout for the first time at the oldest age group and get selected, as many of the players have worked their way up over multiple years. Werries plan is to play junior college baseball first and then get picked up by a division one school and from there hopefully get drafted by a major league organization.

Alvord, a McPherson Middle School student, spent the summer playing for the McPherson County Stix, where he spent most of his time at short stop and pitching. This is his first experience matching up against players of this caliber from across the Midwest but will be a benefit as he moves on to the NTIS event and in future years.

"Fielding wise I felt like I matched up pretty good," Alvord stated. "but hitting-wise I wasn't quite there. I did pitch well though. But my passion is baseball and I like the USA team. I saw them going to Taiwan, the 12U team and won. And I just always wanted to be on TV."

The NTIS will present all participating athletes with great national exposure, something that appealed to both young men, as well as, the opportunity to develop their skills through an unparalleled baseball experience. This will include one-on-one interaction with USA Baseball task force members, individual skill testing, competition against top players from across the country, receiving a USA Baseball National Team Trials style uniform and the opportunity to showcase themselves to college and university scouts who will be in attendance.

Contact Matt Cole by email at mcole@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.