Ethan Cochran had more on his mind than taking his finals at Newport Harbor High this week.
The senior had a big decision to make in regards to his future after high school.
"Sometimes I would sit down and study and all I could think about is where I'm going for college," said Cochran, who had a handful of options. "There has been a lot of stress lately."
Cochran can breathe a sigh of relief. Finals aren't over just yet, but he believes he chose the right college on Wednesday.
Cochran signed a national letter of intent with the UC Berkeley men's track and field program. Cochran is unsure what he plans to study up north, but he will no doubt carry a heavy disc in his backpack to school.
Cochran, the CIF state champion in the boys' discus throw last season, was one of several local athletes committing on National Signing Day. Wednesday marked the first day high school seniors could sign a national letter of intent with a college in football, track and field, soccer, boys' water polo, cross country and field hockey.
On this day, athletes remembered what it took to reach this point. For Cochran, it was meeting his throws coach, Tony Ciarelli, for the first time three years ago at Newport Harbor.
Cochran never thought about throwing for the Sailors. He was a freshman and he had just given up throwing a baseball.
"Coach Ciarelli came up to me and told me I was going to do track and field," said Cochran, who began competing in the discus and shot put the following season as a sophomore.
Since then, Cochran has never let go of the disc or shot, only when he competes.
In the discus last year, Cochran went up against the best in the state, in the country and overseas. He became the first Sailor to claim a CIF State title in the discus. He then took first at the Golden West Invitational, followed by second at the International Assn. of Athletics Federations World Youth Championships.
Cochran said he owes everything to Ciarelli.
"If he wouldn't have been the coach, I never would've been doing this, and I wouldn't be going to UC Berkeley on a track and field scholarship," said Cochran, who also received offers from Oregon, Alabama and UC Irvine. "He's the one who developed me."
Cochran isn't the only thrower who signed at Newport Harbor on Wednesday.
Steve Michaelsen decided to leave the state, opting for Wake Forest, which is in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Michaelsen said his top two choices were Wake Forest and UC Berkeley.
Michaelsen, a CIF state qualifier in the discus last season, almost joined Cochran in Berkeley, until he visited Wake Forest two weeks ago.
"I got a real feel for the area, the school, and what [the school has] to offer academically and athletically," said Michaelsen, who plans to study business. "They're rebuilding the program and they want to bring me in as the guy to start up the program."
Another local standout looking to make an impact in college is Corona del Mar senior Grady Howe.
Howe signed with the UCLA men's soccer program, which qualified for the NCAA College Cup this past season. Howe will team up with a former CdM teammate, Reed Williams, who will be a junior next season at UCLA.
Other locals and their respective schools include: Newport Harbor's Farrel South (UC Berkeley men's water polo); Mater Dei's Anthony Daboub of Newport Beach (UCLA men's water polo); CdM's Charlie Howarth (Pepperdine men's water polo); CdM's Sydney Raguse (Michigan women's soccer); CdM's Allyson Brahs (University of Washington women's soccer); CdM's Sarah Cox (Stanford women's soccer); CdM's Amanda Stephenson (George Mason women's soccer); Estancia's Heather Flores (Cal State San Marcos women's soccer); Mater Dei's Megan Crosson of Costa Mesa (Santa Clara women's soccer); Mater Dei's Elisabetta Impagliazzo of Newport Beach (Tulsa women's soccer); CdM's Jack Gorab (Brown men's soccer); CdM's Connor Gaal (University of San Francisco men's soccer); CdM's Greg Allen (Carnegie Mellon men's soccer); CdM's Karléh Wilson (Yale women's track and field); CdM's Ashlee Powers (Southern Methodist University women's cross country and track and field); CdM's Ryan Rodrigues (Columbia men's track and field).