They're not even halfway through their senior year of high school, but already eight local student athletes are ready to embark on college.
Deer Valley, Freedom and Heritage high schools all hosted special events last week to honor their top recruits as they signed their national letters of intent to play a sport at the college level on scholarship.
Wolverines sign three
Deer Valley senior Aaron Wayne formally committed to Stanford University on Nov. 14 to swim for the Cardinal. Unlike most collegiate level swimmers who enter the sport at an extremely young age, Wayne didn't begin his swimming career until his freshman year of high school. Last year he began training with the Terrapins Swim Club, which helped him gain national exposure.
He came to us as a pretty timid freshman who had never swum before and who didn't really want to swim on varsity, said Deer Valley swim coach Doug Egbert. It's hard to believe that this spring will be only his fourth year of swimming. He's got a tremendous work ethic and is very versatile. He's just a terrific young man and is very obviously very smart to even be considered by Stanford.
Also the leading scorer on the varsity boys water polo team, Wayne considered the University of Arizona, UC Berkeley and Texas A&M before finally deciding to swim for Stanford.
I've wanted to go there ever since I was little, Wayne said. It wasn't really a hard decision.
Wayne, who will compete in college in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events, has four Bay Valley Athletic League titles to his credit, two in the 100 free, one in the 50 free and another in the 500 free. This spring he hopes to win an individual title at the post-season North Coast Section meet, having taken second last year in the 50- and 100-free events.
Wayne said he will likely major in biology with the intent to go on to medical school for his post-graduate degree.
Fellow Wolverine Emily Allard heads to Northwestern University in Illinois next fall to play softball. Allard was also courted by Notre Dame but said Northwestern was the perfect fit.
I loved my visit to Notre Dame, but when I got to Northwestern everything just clicked, Allard said. The coaches and the players were so great. Plus, Northwestern is such an amazing academic institution and I'm just so excited about going.
Although she's one of the BVAL's top pitchers, Allard will move into the outfield in college, having played that position on her Sorcerers 18 Gold travel ball team.
They're expecting big things from me, Allard said of her Northwestern coaches. They're losing four seniors and from how they've been talking to me, they want me to come right in a make a big impact.
Deer Valley's Shelby Wallach heads to Rocky Mountain College next fall on a soccer scholarship. Wallach chose the Montana school over Oakland's Holy Names, San Francisco State and the University of Hawaii because of its atmosphere.
It's small but not too small, Wallach said. It's perfect.
Wallach, who also plays softball for Deer Valley, isn't sure what position she'll play on the Bears' soccer team. Deer Valley coach Jessie Zuniga believes she'll make an impact wherever she's positioned. The kid's a great leader; that's why she's one of my captains, Zuniga said. She's just a great athlete and a great kid.
Wallach's only hopes are to live up to her potential. I hope to do well in my first year to show that I'm a good player and that I can make my team better, she said.
Wallach intends to major in kinesiology in hopes of becoming a physical therapist.
Four Falcons bid farewell
Freedom's Hannah Williams committed to Fresno State University to pitch for the Bulldogs' softball team. Fresno has a really, really great stadium, which I love, Williams said. Plus it's close to home so my parents and friends and family can come watch me play.
Williams will have to compete for time on the mound this season but said it's a test she's more than ready for. I enjoy working for my position, Williams said. I'm really excited for the challenge. I think it's going to be a great year.
During her sophomore season at Freedom, Williams was named the BVAL's Most Valuable Player and as a junior was named to the First-Team All League. This spring, she intends to help bring the BVAL title back to Freedom.
Falcon pitcher Billy Wardell heads to the University of Nevada Las Vegas next fall to compete for the Running Rebels' baseball team. The talented lefty also considered Fresno State and Long Beach State before finally deciding on UNLV.
I really liked the coaches and the facility, Wardell said.
The three-year varsity player and last year's First Team All-Leaguer will shoulder plenty of responsibility next year as an immediate starter.
My coach said he wants me to be a freshman impact player, Wardell said. I just take it as a new challenge. I'm just going to work hard and master my game right now so I can go in there and play hard. I'm really excited. Now I have a future set for me.
Swimmer Josh Meints committed to the University of New York at Buffalo next fall to compete in a variety of events for the Bulls. Meints currently holds all but two Freedom High swimming records and has earned six individual BVAL titles in three years. With five college offers, Meints said he also considered the University of Hawaii before ultimately settling on New York.
I really liked the coaching staff and I connected really well with the guys' team. They're a great group, Meints said.
Competent in all strokes, Meints said he doesn't have a favorite and looks forward to helping out his team wherever needed. My biggest goal is to make NCAAs, Meints said. I'm just hoping to help the team go as far as possible.
Freedom first baseman Chrissy Stalf signed her letter of intent to play softball at Humbolt State University in the spring of 2010. They have a great team and I really like the town, Stalf said, adding that she's a bit apprehensive about replacing Humbolt's top hitter, who graduates this spring.
It's a lot of pressure, Stalf said. I just have to go in there and hit really good.
Patriots sign first recruit
Heritage High's Mickell Escobar is the school's first student athlete to sign a national letter of intent. The Patriot senior committed to the University of San Diego to play for the Torreros' softball team.
Escobar was instrumental in leading Heritage to its first NCS Division II title as a sophomore pitcher. In San Diego, however, she will start at first base, a position she became familiar with on her All-American Sports Academy travel ball team.
I'm excited, Escobar said. I definitely expect (the college level) to be a lot more fast paced and a lot more competitive.
Escobar said she chose the school for its location and good academic programs. She has yet to decide a major but said she intends to go into medicine.