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Long journey has fitting conclusion for local athletes on national signing day

The only thing missing at Edison High on Wednesday was the red carpet.

On Wednesday, the Chargers held their national signing day ceremony for all senior athletes who signed a national letter of intent or committed to colleges.

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Even though the spring signing period is for sports outside of football, boys' and girls' soccer, and boys' water polo, local high schools also honored their athletes committing in those respective sports.

Premier names like quarterback Griffin O'Connor (Yale football) and setter Lindsey Sparks (UCLA beach volleyball) turned out at Edison, finally being celebrated by their classmates after long commitments. The Chargers honored an area-best 19 athletes, including newer commits like Savannah Gutierrez and Amy Kirk.

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Corona del Mar honored 18 athletes in a ceremony on campus Wednesday. Four of those were volleyball players, middle blockers Tyler Flood (New York University) and Brandon Hicks (UC Santa Barbara), and setter Patrick Paragas from the boys' volleyball team, and libero Tia Grippo (Rice) from the girls' team.

CdM lacrosse players Eric Fries (Trinity College), Blaine Nelsen (Whittier College), Robert Purcifull (Bates College) and Lauren Rowe (Chapman) will play on the next level.

Gutierrez will play ice hockey for Utica College in New York. The Chargers goaltender said that her proudest moment in an Edison uniform was earning All-Star MVP honors in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League showcase her junior year.

She also helped Edison win a Division 3 championship that year, and it paved the way for Edison to move up to Division 1 this season.

Gutierrez added that she is proud to have served as an inspiration to many young females who want to pursue goals in predominantly-male fields. She stood out, not only for her gender, but also for her play in a sport where almost all of the players were boys.

"Moms or younger girls would come up to me and say how great they think it is that I play," Gutierrez said. "I've inspired either them or their kids to want to play hockey or want to do something that they thought they couldn't do because they thought it was only for boys."

For many of the athletes committing on Wednesday, it had been a long road to this day. Kirk played the role of the good soldier, filling in as backup goalkeeper to Zoe Clevely on the Edison girls' soccer team for a long time.

In her senior year, Kirk made the most of her opportunity, securing a commitment from Cal Baptist to play at the next level.

"It wasn't very easy because I had a lot of competition," Kirk said. "Zoe Clevely did commit early, so having to compete with her did push me more and more.

"I did commit late, but it did pay off. Having that competition did help me to get to where I am today."

Sage Hill setter Jade Blevins changed her commitment from the University of Portland, signing on the dotted line to join the Cal women's volleyball program.

"I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to play for and attend Cal," Blevins said. "It's an all-around great school and getting to be a part of it means the world to me.

"I can't wait to get up there and compete at a high level with such driven and strong women. The coaching staff is wonderful, and I am so incredibly grateful I get to be coached by them for the next few years."

Lightning girls' volleyball coach Dan Thomassen chimed in with his own thoughts.

"It's an amazing opportunity," he said. "I think it has to do with [Blevins'] commitment to improving day in and day out and really enjoying the process of getting better as a volleyball player."

The Huntington Beach boys' volleyball team had libero Grant Guinasso (Long Beach State) and defensive specialist Stone Sharp (Cal Lutheran) sign.

Alex Peros was one of the final holdouts from the Laguna Beach girls' water polo program, choosing to play collegiately at UCLA.

Marina has six of its 13 commits going on to play women's soccer in college.

Pacifica Christian Orange County has Tanner Motske signing with Hillsdale College in Michigan for men's golf.

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Below is the list of local athletes who signed, committed or were honored on Wednesday:

Corona del Mar

Isaac Clark, Georgetown men's rowing

Mitchell Cooper, Princeton men's water polo

Eric Fries, Trinity College men's lacrosse

Tyler Flood, New York University men's volleyball

Laurel Foster, Stanford women's sailing

Jensie Givens, University of Alabama women's gymnastics

Tia Grippo, Rice University women's volleyball

Nicole Harr, Columbia University women's rowing

Brandon Hicks, UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball

Parker Hoffman, UCLA women's water polo

Porter Killian, University of Pennsylvania men's sailing

Jake Marlo, Harvard, men's rowing

Blaine Nelsen, Whittier College men's lacrosse

Patrick Paragas, UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball

Sammy Pickell, Stanford women's sailing

Robert Purcifull, Bates College men's lacrosse

Lauren Rowe, Chapman women's lacrosse

Catherine Webb, Yale women's sailing

Edison

Connor Aoki, Binghamton baseball

Amanda Chadwick, Pace University women's softball

Michael Guptill, Dartmouth University women's soccer

Savannah Gutierrez, Utica College women's ice hockey

Chase Hanson, UNLV baseball

Amy Kirk, Cal Baptist women's soccer

Brooke Leestma, Merrimack College women's volleyball

Giovanna Liggett, Manhattanville softball

Katie Lightle, University of Connecticut women's swimming

Alexandra Loomis, New York University softball

Jayden McKeague, Iowa State softball

Summer Newton, Southwestern University women's swimming

Ashley Niemand, Southern Oregon women's basketball

Griffin O'Connor, Yale University football

Josh Phillips, University of Portland men's basketball

Lindsey Sparks, UCLA women's beach volleyball

Teagan Wasserman, Wagner women's soccer

Mitchell Wilson, Loyola Marymount men's soccer

Raina Walencewicz, UC Berkeley women's rowing

Fountain Valley

Nathan Wilson, Colorado Mesa baseball

Conrad Villafuerte, Colorado Mesa baseball

Huntington Beach

Grant Guinasso, Long Beach State men's volleyball

Stone Sharp, Cal Lutheran men's volleyball

Laguna Beach

Riley Bumgardner, Cal Baptist men's water polo

Larsen McCarroll, Air Force men's water polo

Alex Peros, UCLA women's water polo

Renee Thomas, Cal women's soccer

Jessica Morrell, UC San Diego women's crew

Marina

Julia Carreon, Pomona-Pitzer softball

Amanda Dunton, Wheaton College women's soccer

Leyla Locken, Briar Cliff University softball

Terra Matsushima, New York University women's swim

Madison Mello, Nova Southeastern women's rowing

Autumn Opperud, Jamestown University women's soccer

Julian Sierras, Concordia University Chicago football

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Erika Sosa, Sacramento State women's soccer

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Autumn Stewart, Highland University New Mexico women's soccer

Luke Sutherland, Biola University men's cross country and track

Jennifer Swartz, Southern University softball

Madison Woolbert, Southern Wesleyan University women's soccer

Payton Woolbert, Southern Wesleyan University women's soccer

Newport Harbor (signing day to be held Thursday at 7:30 a.m.)

Bryana Esparza, Illinois College women's soccer

John Rankin, UC Santa Barbara men's water polo

Spiro Stameson, Cal Tech baseball

Pacifica Christian Orange County

Tanner Motske, Hillsdale College men's golf

Sage Hill

Jade Blevins, UC Berkeley women's volleyball

Brooklyn Button, Claremont McKenna women's cross country and track

Michael Helton, Macalester College baseball

Kayla Kiani, Claremont McKenna women's tennis

Mary Shin, University of Pennsylvania women's golf

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner

​​​​​​​matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

UPDATES:

April 12, 3:20 p.m.: This article was updated with information on Laguna Beach's Renee Thomas and Jessica Morrell.

This article was originally published on April 11 at 9 p.m.

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