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‘I’ve never been more excited in my entire life’: Local high school athletes celebrate on winter signing day

Newport Harbor golfer Sabrina Nesbitt and baseball player Kaden Stowell.
Newport Harbor golfer Sabrina Nesbitt and baseball player Kaden Stowell, from left, pause for a photo before signing letters of intent to attend Sewanee: University of the South and Colorado Springs baseball, respectively, during winter signing ceremony at Newport Harbor on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

High school athletes have not been able to play their sport for the better part of a year, but with the arrival of winter signing day on Wednesday, local student-athletes celebrated making plans to do just that as part of their college experience.

It was a big day for water polo in Costa Mesa, with both high schools in the city sending players on from their pools to four-year college programs.

The Costa Mesa boys’ water polo team had four signees in attackers Gavin Fisher (Santa Clara) and Will Harrington (Iona), utility player Alexander Luckett (Concordia) and center Anderson Todd (Brown).

Mustangs water polo coach Cody Serrano, a 2009 graduate of Costa Mesa, said that he and his twin brother Dustin had a vision of helping more of the school’s athletes move on to the next level when they returned to their alma mater as coaches in 2014.

Serrano said that it was “amazing” to have four athletes able to sign or commit together, and he added that the group was rich in experience.

“They had tons of exposure at a young age at a varsity level, and not to mention years of club they put in,” Serrano said.

Todd shared his thoughts on getting an opportunity to attend and compete at an Ivy League school.

“I have always been super interested in the East Coast and Ivy Leagues, and I think that Brown has a really nice combination and balance between sports and academics,” Todd said. “I’ve always been super interested in engineering, and I want to be a mechanical engineer.”

Estancia’s Griffin Beth will also be joining the Concordia men’s water polo program.

“It’s been a huge thing,” Beth said of his longtime goal to play in college. “I’m lucky enough to get this opportunity through some of the recommendations of my coaches. This year’s been super tough with COVID. We haven’t been able to play at all.”

In a tumultuous school year because of the coronavirus pandemic, only cross-country has had the chance to resume competition. Beth’s commitment to Concordia has given him something to look forward to.

“I’ve never been more excited in my entire life to do something like this,” Beth added.

Newport Harbor golfer Sabrina Nesbitt sits with her parents Jon and Candace after signing to attend Sewanee on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor held a small ceremony for its two signees, Sabrina Nesbitt (Sewanee: University of the South women’s golf) and Kaden Stowell (Colorado Springs baseball) in front of the gym on Wednesday afternoon.

Nesbitt was accompanied by family, and in college, she will be reuniting with her sister, Nicole, who is also on the Sewanee women’s golf team.

“I didn’t know that it would work out this way, but now we’re going to be playing golf [together again] when I didn’t know that,” Nesbitt said, looking back on times she enjoyed playing with her sister in the past. “I thought that would be our last time playing golf together, on a team in high school.”

At Colorado Springs, Stowell, an outfielder for the Sailors, will have a chance to hit at significant elevation.

“For conditioning, it might take a little bit of getting used to, running and stuff up there,” Stowell said. “But when it comes to hitting, I should be able to hit the ball a lot further in the [higher] altitude.”

Newport Harbor baseball player Kaden Stowell, sits surrounded by his team after signing to attend Colorado Springs.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Corona del Mar’s Madison Cooper signed with the Boston University women’s rowing program, while Sea Kings baseball coach Kevin McCaffrey said that pitcher Matthew DeCrona has committed to Long Beach State as a preferred walk-on.

Newport Beach resident Jaden Genova, a linebacker for JSerra, committed to Army for football. Fountain Valley resident Jack Kane, a safety at Servite, committed to the Oregon State football program.

Connor Bloom, a Huntington Beach resident and outside hitter for Orange Lutheran, signed with the Long Beach State men’s volleyball program. Laine Hourigan, a Newport Beach resident and a goalie for the Lancers, is joining the USC women’s water polo program.

Mater Dei had a pair of local lacrosse players sign in Huntington Beach resident Tyler Curry (Grove City College) and Newport Beach resident Skyler Nielsen (Columbia University).

Defensive tackle Jeremy Alcorn joined several Edison teammates who signed early to play football in college, committing to Southern Nazarene University.

The Chargers also had Ali Bryant (Colorado Mesa women’s lacrosse), Mary Smith (Haverford College field hockey) and Jason You (UC Santa Cruz men’s tennis) make commitments.

Huntington Beach has two standouts on the diamond moving on in Mikayla Carman (Cal State Northridge softball) and Daniel Gallardo (Crown University baseball), as well as water polo players Chase Dodd (UCLA) and Morgan O’Connell (Chapman).

Fountain Valley goalkeeper Connor Trapp signed with the Montana State Billings men’s soccer program, and Barons softball player CJ Garcia will be headed to Lake Erie College.

Ocean View had two female athletes make commitments on National Girls and Women in Sports Day in Angelina Franzetti (Wagner University water polo) and Katelyn Taylor (Olivet Nazarene volleyball).

Below is a list of local athletes who have signed or committed through Wednesday:

CORONA DEL MAR


Madison Cooper, Boston University women’s rowing

Matthew DeCrona, Long Beach State baseball

COSTA MESA


Gavin Fisher, Santa Clara University men’s water polo

Will Harrington, Iona University men’s water polo

Alexander Luckett, Concordia men’s water polo and swimming

Anderson Todd, Brown University men’s water polo

EDISON


Jeremy Alcorn, Southern Nazarene University football

Braeden Boyles, Benedictine College football

Ali Bryant, Colorado Mesa women’s lacrosse

Jack Kosick, University of Pennsylvania football

Jacob Parsons, UC Davis football

Mary Smith, Haverford College (Pa.) field hockey

Jason You, UC Santa Cruz men’s tennis

ESTANCIA


Griffin Beth, Concordia men’s water polo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY


CJ Garcia, Lake Erie College softball

Ivan Nghi, Cal Poly men’s swimming

Connor Trapp, Montana State Billings men’s soccer

HUNTINGTON BEACH


Mikayla Carman, Cal State Northridge softball

Chase Dodd, UCLA men’s water polo

Daniel Gallardo, Crown University baseball

Sammy Green, UNLV football

Morgan O’Connell, Chapman University women’s water polo

Jacob Sanden, Black Hills State University football

JSERRA


Jaden Genova, Army football

MATER DEI


Tyler Curry, Grove City College men’s lacrosse

Gabriella Heftved, Hamilton College softball

Skyler Nielsen, Columbia University women’s lacrosse

NEWPORT HARBOR


Sabrina Nesbitt, Sewanee: University of the South women’s golf

Kaden Stowell, Colorado Springs baseball

OCEAN VIEW


Angelina Franzetti, Wagner University women’s water polo

Katelyn Taylor, Olivet Nazarene women’s volleyball

ORANGE LUTHERAN


Connor Bloom, Long Beach State men’s volleyball

Laine Hourigan, USC women’s water polo

Gabriella Russell, Illinois State women’s diving

SERVITE


Christian Hodson, Point Loma men’s soccer

Jack Kane, Oregon State football

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