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Spring signing day gives high school seniors something to smile about

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Newport Beach resident Grady Birmingham, a three-year starting outfielder for Mater Dei, committed to the University of Dallas baseball program.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

High school seniors have had little to celebrate since the coronavirus sent students home and brought the spring sports season to an end.

With the signing period resuming for all sports on Wednesday, some seniors were granted a reprieve from their present predicament and a chance to look towards opportunities that lie ahead.

Local high school athletes signed or committed to continue playing their sport in college, providing them a reason to celebrate and a part in the traditional senior experience.

Grady Birmingham, a Newport Beach resident who has been a three-year starter in the outfield for the Mater Dei High baseball team, has signed with the University of Dallas baseball program.

He takes with him fond memories of playing in the National High School Invitational and the Boras Classic, and he considers himself fortunate to get the opportunity to keep playing.

“It’s honestly really nice,” said Birmingham, who intends to major in business. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s something that not everyone gets a chance to do that, so I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity.”

The Costa Mesa girls’ water polo team reached a CIF Southern Section title match for the first time this season, dropping the contest to No. 2-seeded Whittier California 10-6 in the Division 5 final.

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Costa Mesa’s Ta’iuta Uiagalelei (6) is being defended by Estancia’s Cassie Corrigan (3) in an Orange Coast League match on Feb. 5.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sey Currie and Ta’iuta Uiagalelei helped the Mustangs get there, and they have both signed with the Concordia women’s water polo program.

Costa Mesa’s Diane Molina, who has been named the Daily Pilot Girls’ Cross-Country Dream Team Runner of the Year three times, signed with UC Irvine for women’s cross-country and track and field.

Also continuing as a distance runner is Sage Hill’s Kate Miller, who has committed to Chapman University for women’s cross-country. She has avoided dwelling on losing her last track and field season with the Lightning by focusing on the bigger picture.

“I’m just one high school girl who loves to run, nothing extraordinary or record-breaking,” Miller said. “I do it for the passion and for the team, and I am so grateful to be able to continue at the Division 3 level.

“People are dealing with much more major issues than one missed season. It’s sad, but I’m very lucky to be quarantined with a wonderful family and [in a] beautiful area.”

Photo Gallery: Orange County Championships of track and field
Huntington Beach’s Kyli Moon-Rumsey competes in the 100-meter hurdles at the Orange County Championships at Mission Viejo High on April 13, 2019.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach’s Kyli Moon-Rumsey, a heptathlete, signed with the Penn State women’s track and field program.

Sage Hill also had center Zoe Mazakas commit to the Chapman University women’s basketball program, while opposite Danielle Beder committed to the Claremont McKenna College women’s volleyball program.

Beder went way back in thinking about her favorite athletic moment with the Lightning.

“I have so many,” Beder said of her high school memories. “One that was so much fun was when the Sage team beat Laguna Beach in five sets when I was a freshman. We were down 0-2, then won the last three [sets].

Rohun Krishnan (Pomona College men’s tennis) rounded out the Lightning’s latest list of athletes to commit to a college.

Edison soccer standout Kai Peterson, a midfielder, signed with the University of San Diego men’s soccer program. His two-way contributions were instrumental in helping the Chargers advance to the Division 1 semifinals in 2019.

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Edison’s Kai Peterson (10) heads the ball toward the goal in a Surf League match against Newport Harbor on Feb. 5.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Marina goalkeeper Kyle Miller, a first-team selection to the Daily Pilot Boys’ Soccer Dream Team this season, signed with Whittier College.

“It definitely feels good to know for sure that I’m going to get to continue playing for four more years,” said Miller, who plans to major in kinesiology. “That was really important to me to keep getting to do what I like to do, and Whittier is giving me that chance, so I’m really excited about that.”

Miller manned the net for the Vikings for the past two seasons.

“He’s one of those players that is really focused on what he does,” Marina boys’ soccer coach Gabriel Lucatero said. “He spends countless hours training outside of his normal practices with his club, his practices with the school, and obviously everything that is happening right now for him is all due to his hard work and his dedication to the sport.”

Below are the local seniors who have signed or committed to a college:

COSTA MESA

Christian Anderson, Cal Lutheran football

Sey Currie, Concordia University women’s water polo

Rebecca Im, Vanguard University cheerleading

Riley Mitchell, Biola University baseball

Joey Palmblade, Long Beach State men’s water polo

Diane Molina, UC Irvine women’s cross-country and track and field

Emanuel Ortega, Culver-Stockton College football

Ta’iuta Uiagalelei, Concordia University women’s water polo

EDISON

Taylor Bartlett, Milligan University women’s swimming

Cori Hoffer, Dartmouth women’s track and field

Kai Peterson, University of San Diego men’s soccer

Emma Willmer, Boise State women’s swimming

ESTANCIA

Jake Covey, New Mexico State baseball

Garrett Palme, Occidental College baseball

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

Jenna Peterson, Delaware State University women’s volleyball

Hunter Ramirez, Beloit College men’s soccer

HUNTINGTON BEACH

Joshua Bowman, Air Force men’s water polo

Ella Davison, Bryant University field hockey

Kyli Moon-Rumsey, Penn State women’s track and field

LAGUNA BEACH

Logan Brooks, UC Irvine men’s cross-country and track and field

Sahil Das, New York University men’s diving

Grace Houlahan, Princeton women’s water polo

Augie Renezeder, Loyola Marymount University men’s water polo

MARINA

Jacey Henderson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania softball

Kyle Miller, Whittier College

Maya Nugent, University of San Diego women’s diving

Abigail Shepard, Aurora University women’s ice hockey

Harlow Shepard, Trine University women’s figure skating

MATER DEI

Grady Birmingham, University of Dallas baseball

OCEAN VIEW

Joshua King, Concordia University men’s cross-country and track and field

PACIFICA CHRISTIAN ORANGE COUNTY

Timmy Bahadoor, Vanguard men’s basketball

Gen Hilbert, University of San Diego women’s rowing

SAGE HILL

Danielle Beder, Claremont McKenna College women’s volleyball

Rohun Krishnan, Pomona College men’s tennis

Zoe Mazakas, Chapman University women’s basketball

Kate Miller, Chapman University women’s cross-country

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