A total of 46 Clovis Unified seniors, spanning all five high schools, signed their National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, Nov. 14 to continue their education and participate in college athletics.
Elaborate ceremonies were held at Buchanan, Clovis West, Clovis, Clovis North and Clovis East in front of classmates, teachers, administrators, coaches and family.
Buchanan led the way with 21 total signees for the fall period, believed to be to most ever from a school from the Central Valley.
“We are very proud of the championships our programs win each year but sending kids to play collegiate athletics is an even bigger accomplishment,” Buchanan Athletic Director James Gambrell said. “Having 21 student athletes sign in the fall shows Bear Nation’s commitment to academics, athletics, and spiritual growth.”
Four Buchanan baseball players signed: TJ Fondtain with San Diego State, Jacob King with UC Irvine, Miguel Ortiz to Cal State Fullerton and JD Ortiz to UC Santa Barbara. Teammate Brock Jones is expected to sign with Stanford for both baseball and football at the next signing period.
Miguel and JD Ortiz are the sons of former Major League Baseball player Jose Ortiz and moved to Clovis their sophomore year after living in Florida, the Dominican Republic and Japan, where Jose played for 10 years.
“Today was a very special day,” Miguel said. “When I first moved here, I didn’t actually think how important signing day was, but I enjoyed everything about today.
“The teammates I was up there with today have been there for me since I moved, including my brother who I’ve spent my lifetime with. It’s amazing to know we are all succeeding – I love them and will keep on fighting with them.”
Buchanan’s water polo players Kaleb Archer and Gabe Putnam signed with Harvard University. The dynamic duo, and best friends since childhood, won three straight Central Section Division I titles with Conner Schink and Zach Zetz, who both signed with Fresno Pacific University.
Madison Campbell of Clovis West signed with USC after being courted by 30 Division I programs and has gone 96-10 in her time with the program including a national and state title her sophomore year.
Coached by her father Craig, the five-foot-11 shooting guard averaged 20.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists last year, picking up first team honors at every level, including the TRAC Player of the Year award.
“Today meant everything and had the same emotions as when I first committed months ago, but this time it was more real and official,” Maddie Campbell said. “I’ve always grown up around my dad’s players, so now that I’m actually in their spot is very surreal.”
She was joined on stage with teammates Champney Pulliam (University of Idaho) and Aari Sanders (Academy of Art University).
“We’ve dreamt of this since we first played together in the fourth grade,” Campbell said. “We’ve been through so much together because of this sport, so it’s only right that we all get this opportunity. What a special day.”
There was a strong showing from Clovis Unified swimmers, including state swimming medalists Averee Preble (Auburn) from Clovis and Abby Samansky (Tennessee) from Clovis West.
The signing periods for high school players are based on the following: Division I and Division II sports except basketball or football (regular period), Nov. 14, 2018; DI Basketball (early period) Nov. 14, 2018; DI Basketball (regular period) April 17, 2019; DI Football (early period) Dec. 19, 2018; DI and DII Football (regular period) Feb. 6, 2019.
A full list of the 46 student/athletes, school and sport is as follows:
Mikayla Weiss – Fresno State – volleyball, Ashley Dittmann – UC Riverside – volleyball, Tori Carlos – CSU Monterey Bay – volleyball, Tyler Deen – University of Nebraska – wrestling, Matthew Olguin – Fresno State – wrestling, Kaleb Archer – Harvard University – water polo, Gabe Putnam – Harvard University – water polo, Zach Zetz – Fresno Pacific University – water polo, Conner Schink – Fresno Pacific University – water polo, Sierra May – CSU Long Beach – water polo, Christian Johnson – University of Texas – track and field, Maren Butler – Tulane University – track and field, TJ Fondtain – San Diego State – baseball, Jacob King – UC Irvine – baseball, JD Ortiz – UC Santa Barbara – baseball, Miguel Ortiz – Cal State Fullerton – baseball, Madilyn Hernandez – Fresno Pacific University – soccer, Mattie Millwee – Colorado State Pueblo – golf, Michelle Kroell – Friends University – softball, Rachel Kessler – Colorado School of Mines – softball
Darien Miller –University of New Mexico – baseball, Jacob Good –Arizona State University – wrestling, Maxwell Anderson –Cal Poly San Luis Obispo University – wrestling, Brandon Paulson –Cal Baptist University – wrestling, Jackson Lake –Oregon State University – golf, Abby Mammen –Cal Baptist University – water polo, Isabella Sonkoloy –Fresno State – water polo, Makena Ogas –Fresno Pacific University – volleyball,Averee Preble – Auburn University – swimming
Michelle Berry – Fresno Pacific University – basketball, Jasmine Megerdichian – Geneva College – softball, Taja Felder – University of Louisville — softball
Taylor Pilot – CSU Stanislaus — basketball, Sierra Alvarez — Sonoma State University – soccer, Brady Crow – Fresno Pacific University – baseball, Curtis Vidinoff – Fresno Pacific University – water polo, Trevor Lott – McPherson College – baseball, Andrew Penrose – McPherson College – baseball, Mattie Herzog – Azusa Pacific University – water polo, Ben Forbes – Northwestern University – swimming
Madison Campbell – University of Southern California – basketball, Jordan Diaz – Youngstown State University – soccer, Hannah Lambert – Augustana University – swim, Champney Pulliam – University of Idaho – basketball, Abby Samansky – University of Tennessee – swim, Aari’Yanna Sanders – Academy of Art University – basketball, Jessica Schab – Dixie State University – swim, Claire Shubin – Dominican University – golf