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Local athletes live out another chapter on spring signing day

Local athletes live out another chapter on spring signing day
Softball player Katie Belmontes and baseball player Omar Munoz sign their letters of intent at a National Signing Day ceremony at Costa Mesa High School on Wednesday. Belmontes is headed to Cal State Northridge, and Munoz to Westcliff University. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The final wave of college commitments began to pour in on Wednesday with the beginning of the spring signing period.

Edison High jumped to the front of the line, holding a signing day ceremony for its 20 college-bound student-athletes on April 11 in advance of its spring break.

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Among the Chargers signees was inside linebacker Luke Hoggard, the area’s defensive player of the year in football. The University of Pennsylvania commit led the Chargers with 115 tackles.

While he will keep playing between the lines at Penn, Hoggard is also excited to tackle a promising academic career.

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“They’re going to give me a lot of opportunities academically and career-wise,” Hoggard said, adding that he plans to join the Wharton School of Business. “I’m going to be able to do pretty much whatever I want when I get out, and I’m excited for that.

“I’m interested in finance, and I’m trying to [be a] venture capitalist, or [go into] hedge funds, or investment banking.”

Pete DiBernardo also signed with the UC Santa Barbara men’s golf program after helping the Chargers to a 20-1 overall record and an undefeated run through the Sunset League as a junior.

The Chargers have regressed to 9-4 overall and 2-2 in the Surf League this year, but DiBernardo, a three-time all-Sunset League first-team selection for Edison and Huntington Beach, said that he has benefitted from being around a group of talented teammates nonetheless.

“It’s definitely better having a higher-level program,” DiBernardo said. “It forces you to work hard, especially being around a good atmosphere, great players.

“Not only are they good players on the course, but off the course, as well. They’re very encouraging, and that’s something that has really helped me out a lot.”

Softball player Katie Belmontes smiles in front of her banner as she participates in a National Signing Day ceremony at Costa Mesa High School on Wednesday.
Softball player Katie Belmontes smiles in front of her banner as she participates in a National Signing Day ceremony at Costa Mesa High School on Wednesday. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Signing day continues to serve as a messenger that hard work pays off in the end. It also reminds us of the accomplishments turned in by student-athletes throughout their careers.

Laguna Beach’s Ryan Smithers began running cross-country in his junior year. As a senior, Smithers led the Breakers to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 and CIF State Division IV titles. The Yale signee also won an individual section crown and was the Wave League champion en route to earning the Daily Pilot Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year honor.

Colton Gregory, who signed with the UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo program, led the Breakers in scoring for the third straight season. He had 91 goals and 31 assists.

Marina power forward Jakob Alamudun signed with the Lehigh University men’s basketball program. Vikings coach Nick Racklin said that Alamudun is the first Marina boys’ basketball player to receive a full-ride scholarship from a Division 1 school since Cherokee Parks (Duke) in 1991.

Alamudun received the Wave League MVP award this season. He finished his career with 1,905 points, which is good for third on Marina’s all-time scoring list.

Sage Matsushima, the Marina school record-holder for girls’ swimming in the 100-meter butterfly and backstroke, has signed with Brown University.

Caitlyn Rayburn, who signed with Buena Vista University for women’s track and field, gives the Vikings three throwers sent to college in the last three years. The others are Kyle Tsu (UC Irvine) and Jake Arnold (Northern Arizona University).

Baseball player Omar Munoz with his banner as he participates in a National Signing Day ceremony at Costa Mesa High School on Wednesday.
Baseball player Omar Munoz with his banner as he participates in a National Signing Day ceremony at Costa Mesa High School on Wednesday. (Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

Ocean View quarterback Noah Hickman has signed with the Hamline University football program. He led the Seahawks to a share of their first league title since 1989. Ocean View tied for first place in the Pac 4 League with Western and Laguna Beach.

Seahawks setter Hunter Miller shared Golden West League MVP honors with Loara’s David Lucio last season. Miller has signed with the Briar Cliff University men’s volleyball program.

Huntington Beach’s Brandon Bui returned from a torn PCL to help the Oilers win the Wave League championship in boys’ soccer. The first-team all-league selection will continue his career on the pitch at UC Davis.

Newport Harbor’s signees included attacker Jack White (UCLA men’s water polo) and point guard Sam Barela (Chapman University men’s basketball).

Costa Mesa’s Katie Belmontes, a two-time first-team Dream Team selection in softball, will take her powerful bat with her to Cal State Northridge.

Sage Hill center Johnny King will play college basketball for Pomona-Pitzer. King helped the Lightning advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 5AA final, which marked the first time that Sage Hill had been past the second round.

King averaged 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots as a senior. He was the Academy League MVP. He is the single-season and career record-holder for blocks and rebounds at Sage Hill.

Emin Torlic, the left-handed singles ace of the Lightning, has signed with the Loyola Marymount men’s tennis program.

Pacifica Christian Orange County forward Solomon Davis signed with the Westmont College men’s basketball program after helping the Tritons reach the Division 4AA final against San Joaquin League rival Fairmont Prep.

COSTA MESA

Katie Belmontes, Cal State Northridge softball

Omar Munoz, Westcliff University baseball

EDISON

Ian Anderson, Sonoma State baseball

Jacob Biddle, University of Puget Sound football

Jenna Bloom, Arkansas softball

Wyatt Burris, Concordia men’s soccer

Ted Burton, Michigan baseball

Pete DiBernardo, UC Santa Barbara men’s golf

Rachelle Elve, San Diego State men’s soccer

Aly Fullbright, Cal State Monterey Bay women’s volleyball

Maggie Gunther, Concordia women’s volleyball

Luke Hoggard, University of Pennsylvania football

Jennifer Murphy, Marist women’s water polo

Nathan Nabal, Harvey Mudd football

Jaelyn Operana, Tennessee softball

Mikaila Pancino, UC San Diego softball

Cole Power, UCLA men’s volleyball

Garrett Runyan, Whitman baseball

Sophia Smith, Point Loma women’s soccer

Serena Starks, Princeton softball

Matt Swartz, Stanford baseball

Malia Walencewicz, University of San Diego women’s soccer

HUNTINGTON BEACH

Brandon Bui, UC Davis men’s soccer

Jake Graham, Puget Sound football

William Green, UC Irvine men’s water polo

Morgan MacBeath, Wheeling Jesuit softball

Jackie Ruggiero, Endicott College women’s soccer

Cole Tague, Cal State San Marcos baseball

LAGUNA BEACH

William Clark, Navy men’s water polo

Ayrton Garcia, George Mason University men’s volleyball

Colton Gregory, UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo

Noah Handel, Whittier College football

Ryan Smithers, Yale men’s cross-country and track and field

Cici Stewart, Princeton University women’s water polo

Blake Turner, Columbia University women’s soccer

Alexis Yang, MIT women’s rowing

MARINA

Jakob Alamudun, Lehigh men’s basketball

Steven Casas, Cal State Los Angeles baseball

Austin Hallman, George Fox University baseball

Kellie Hallworth, Cal State San Bernardino women’s soccer

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Dylan Holt, Chapman University baseball

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Cory Lewis, UC Santa Barbara baseball

Rhys Lewis, Bethany College men’s soccer

Nicole Logrecco, Worcester Polytechnic Institute softball

Sage Matsushima, Brown University women’s swimming

Skyler Magula, Cal Berkeley men’s track and field

Caitlyn Rayburn, Buena Vista University women’s track and field

Evan Sanchez, Hope University men’s soccer

Kerryn Stigar, Midland University women’s soccer

Shayla Thomas, Cal State Northridge softball

NEWPORT HARBOR

Sam Barela, Chapman University men’s basketball

Emilio Carbajal, Concordia University men’s soccer

Giovanni Guzman-Marquez, Concordia University men’s soccer

Nicole Nesbitt, University of the South women’s golf

Grant Person, Cal Berkeley men’s crew

Jack White, UCLA men’s water polo

OCEAN VIEW

Cailey Collado, Pacific Lutheran University softball

Adriana Gil, Concordia women’s cross-country and track and field

Noah Hickman, Hamline University football

Jason St. Pierre, Concordia men’s cross-country and track and field

Hunter Miller, Briar Cliff University men’s volleyball

PACIFICA CHRISTIAN

Solomon Davis, Westmont men’s basketball

Justin Nishkian, Vanguard University men’s volleyball

Alyssa Smith, Marymount California University women’s soccer

SAGE HILL

Ashwin Chona, New York University baseball

Johnny King, Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball

Trevor Klein, Pomona-Pitzer baseball

Morgan Mann, Babson College women’s tennis

Andrew Smith, Colgate University men’s rowing

Emin Torlic, Loyola Marymount University men’s tennis

Adam Watson, Air Force Academy men’s water polo

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