Three Huntington Beach High seniors took the next step in their academic and athletic careers early Wednesday by officially committing to four-year universities.
Signing a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday were girls' soccer player Nikki Walsh and girls' volleyball player Jianna Bonomi. Walsh signed with Belhaven University and Bonomi with the University of San Diego. A third Oiler, football player Zane Hudak, was present but didn't sign, saying he had accepted an academic scholarship and intends to play football at the University of New Hampshire. A "mock" signing was held for Hudak.
Joining the trio Wednesday were five other Oilers who had previously signed a NLI: Halle Bissin, forward, girl's soccer (University of San Francisco); Ashlyn Pooler, field hockey (Missouri State University); Gina Taglieri, field hockey (Washington and Jefferson College); Luke Hollar, football (University of San Diego), and Vicky Galasso, softball (Idaho State University).
"They are all very deserving," Huntington Beach Athletic Director Roy Miller said. "It's nice that they now get to reap the benefits of all the hard work they put forth, not only on the playing field but in the classroom."
Bonomi, an All-League and All-CIF setter who said she was named team MVP and received the coach's award for girls' volleyball, said she took her official visit to the University of San Diego last weekend and "loved the location and the campus." She previously took a recruiting trip to the University of Arizona and said she also had been recruited by UC Santa Barbara, Oklahoma, Hawaii and "several small schools."
"I'm extremely excited to be going to USD," she said. "I liked Arizona and the athletics are great, but I didn't feel completely comfortable in the desert environment. But I loved USD. The campus is amazing and I absolutely love the beach. Their coach (Brent Hilliard) said I would play right away, and that also helped me in my decision.
"I've been playing club volleyball since I was 6, so this is a dream come true."
Walsh, an all-league goalie on the girls' soccer team, is heading to Belhaven University, a small, private school located in Jackson, Miss. She said she also had received offers from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Chowan University (Murfreesboro, N.C.) and Mercy College (New York, N.Y.).
"I'm super-excited for the opportunity and I was told that I would get to start as a freshman," Walsh said. "The great thing is that my parents are moving back to Mississippi with me."
Hudak, an offensive guard on the football team who had suffered a concussion in the fifth week of the 2010 season but still went on to earn all-league honorable mention, said he had been recruited by Stanford and Brown University and finally decided on New Hampshire.
Hudak said the Wildcats, a perennial power in the Football Championship Subdivision, will open their season Sept. 1 on ESPN at Toledo.