State champions, Division 1 recruits top SK signing day

South Kitsap High School recognized 19 students, including four NCAA Division 1 commits, who are set to continue their athletic careers alongside their college education.

The students put pen to paper to make their commitments official at a signing day ceremony May 8. Family and friends watched as the athletes’ coaches shared fond memories and words of encouragement.

Soccer athletes made up the biggest portion of signings, with seven girls and boys set to play in college. Leading the way was junior Gabe Fernandez, who committed to play at the University of Washington. Coach Bill Conley said that Fernandez’s skill is like nothing he’s seen in recent memory. “I’ve been watching high school athletes for girls and boys for the last six years, and I’ve never seen anybody dribble through players like they’re ghosts,” he said.

Conley also spoke highly of senior co-captain Parker Medina and his leadership skills, which he will take him to Earlham College in Indiana. “He’s a great communicator, and that’s the most important thing you want from any athlete.”

Also signing for soccer were seniors Shannon Grogan (Coe College), Maya Foster (St. Martin’s University), Rubi Serrato (Centralia Community College), Katherine Kent (Whitworth University) and Luke Ellis (Thomas More University).

Three fastpitch players made their commitments, including senior captain Emma Stamp, whose playing days were put at risk by a major knee injury the prior season. “Emma showed the tenacity and the fight and the spirit to continue to move forward,” coach Bobby Lawrence said. “The minute she was able to, she was at every single practice; she was at every single game. The value that she showed to her team in her leadership was impeccable.”

Stamp will play at Yakima Valley, and she was joined by teammates Elyssa Barnett (Pierce College) and Brooke Jett (St. Martin’s University) on signing day.

Two state-champion wrestlers made commitments to Division 1 schools. Mitchell Neiner made his commitment to Cal Baptist last fall, and senior Phil Chobot will wrestle for Arizona State University. “Phil is just a force,” coach Conner Hartmann said, “and he treated it like his job to do everything in his power to try to get ready. It was inspiring to watch.”

Senior Jiselle Javier announced her commitment to the UW last week after making the dance team.

Other athletes who signed to colleges were baseball’s Kaden Ecklund (Edmonds Community College), basketball’s Aly Loudermilk (South Puget Sound), volleyball’s Abby Gilder (Olympic College) and Jayden Strutz (John Jay College), golf’s Kate Peterson (Olympic College) and Makayla Jackson (Olympic College) for cross country and track.