Fulfilling the Dream: 40 CUSD Student Athletes Sign National Letter of Intent

Nikki Tom celebrates her signing day with family. The Clovis West senior was named First Team All-Roundup in girls basketball last season, after averaging 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. She signed to UC Irvine Wednesday. (Clovis West Athletics/Twitter)

Most student-athletes, from a young age, dream of playing their favorite sport at the collegiate level; on Wednesday, 40 Clovis Unified student-athletes turned that dream into a reality.

All five Clovis Unified high schools – Buchanan High, Clovis North, Clovis West, Clovis East and Clovis High – saw their respective student-athletes put pen to paper on National Letter of Intent signing day Wednesday.

Clovis West held an on-campus ceremony in the morning to honor its nine signees, including four from its Valley champion girls basketball team: Nikki Tom, Justyce Harris, Kendall Jackson and Jada Oatman.

Buchanan will hold its own ceremony November 12 at its Outdoor Performing Arts Center in the afternoon, honoring its 16 signees – the highest number of signees out of a CUSD high school. Five signees alone came from Buchanan’s state championship wrestling team, including Illinois signee and three-time individual state title winner, Maximo Renteria.

There was limited attendance allowed at each of the schools’ outdoor signing events, with masks and social distancing required.

Clovis North plans on having a ceremony to honor its signees in January. Six Broncos signed their letter of intent Wednesday.

Below is the full list of Clovis Unified signees, designated by high school, with their sport and which college they signed to:

Buchanan High School (16):

  • Josh Williams – Baseball – UC Santa Barbara
  • Olivia Garcia – Basketball – Fresno Pacific
  • Brenden Ashman – Golf – Cal State Fullerton
  • Jake Bettencourt – Golf – Fresno State
  • Taylor Phillips – Soccer – San Jose State
  • Claire Raley – Softball – Utah State
  • Marissa Fondtain – Softball – UC San Diego
  • Lauren Fowler – Track and Field – New Mexico
  • Bo Olsen – Track and Field – Fresno Pacific
  • Tarryn DeBenedetto – Volleyball – Colorado Christian University
  • Taylor Finley – Volleyball – University of Saint Katherine
  • Rocco Contino – Wrestling – University of Virginia
  • Raymond Lopez – Wrestling – West Point
  • George Ruiz – Wrestling – Naval Academy, Annapolis
  • Maximo Renteria – Wrestling – University of Illinois
  • Carlos Negrete Jr. – Wrestling – North Dakota State

Clovis West High School (9):

  • Cole Anderson – Basketball – UC Santa Barbara
  • Justyce Harris – Basketball – Concordia University
  • Kendall Jackson – Basketball – Concordia University
  • Jada Oatman – Basketball – Fresno Pacific
  • Nikki Tom – Basketball – UC Irvine
  • Kianna Cortez-Garcia – Soccer – California State University, East Bay
  • Austin Lane – Swim and Dive – University of Pittsburgh
  • Ashlynne Davis – Volleyball – West Virginia State University
  • Samuel Otta – Water Polo – UC Irvine

Clovis North High School (6):

  • Rees Kent – Baseball – Saint Mary’s College
  • Emma Brown – Soccer – Cal Poly
  • Christian Silva – Soccer – California State University, Northridge
  • Gabriel Jett – Swim and Dive – UC Berkeley
  • Jeffrey Forbes – Swim and Dive – Washington University in St. Louis
  • Sydney Hancock – Volleyball – Colorado State

Clovis High School (6):

  • Keanu Williams – Football – University of Oregon
  • Samantha Tristan –Soccer – Fresno State
  • Isabella Anderson –Soccer – Fresno State
  • Shaley Garza –Soccer – Fresno Pacific
  • Julia Price –Volleyball – Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Libby Alexander –Water Polo – UC Irvine

Clovis East High School (3):

  • Jacob Tafoya – Football – Air Force
  • Caitlyn Perales – Softball – Dominican University
  • Kacy Wicks – Water Polo – San Diego State

Along with Renteria, there were many notable student-athletes who signed letters of intent. Among them were:

  • Three-time TRAC Boys Basketball Player of the Year and First Team All-Roundup selection Cole Anderson (Clovis West)
  • TRAC Girls Basketball Player of the Year and First Team All-Roundup selection Nikki Tom (Clovis West)
  • 2019 Central Section champion in the 100-yard backstroke, Austin Lane (Clovis West)
  • Four-star defensive line recruit and Power 5 football commit Keanu Williams (Clovis)
  • Two wrestlers who finished Top 5 in their respective weight class at the 2020 CIF state wrestling championships: Rocco Contino and Raymond Lopez (Buchanan)
  • Three student-athletes who will attend a service academy: Lopez will head to West Point, George Ruiz (Buchanan) will wrestle at Navy, and Jacob Tafoya (Clovis East) will play football at Air Force.

To put it succinctly, there was something to note with every one of the 40 student-athletes who took one step closer towards their collegiate careers Wednesday.

Each student-athlete received what they had long deserved, something not to be taken for granted now with a pandemic: a moment with the spotlight on their achievements.

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.