The early fall signing period might have taken some of the luster out of National Signing Day, but not for dozens of area athletes who signed their National Letters of Intent across the region on Wednesday.
Whether they were signing to play Division I or junior college, it was still likely the biggest day of their sporting career to this point.
University hosted a ceremony for 12 student-athletes before school to celebrate their continuing pursuits.
Some of the commitments had been widely reported by this point, but it was still a relief to put pen to paper. For others, it was rush knowing that their athletic career would continue after high school.
For basketball star Tanner Christensen, who is headed to play for Idaho, Wednesday’s ceremony was mostly for photos.
“This is more of a formality. I actually signed back in November,” he said. “But it’s cool to officially wrap it up. I’m excited.”
Christensen said the atmosphere in Moscow attracted him to the program.
“I really liked that the campus was really close to home. I really liked the coaching staff and their playing style. They just have a great environment down there.”
The 6-foot-9 post led his team to an overtime win over Central Valley in a District 8 4A play-in game on Monday.
Another player that has had his plan laid out for a while is Campbell Barrington, a 6-5, 280-pound offensive lineman. He’s known for roughly two years he would play at BYU.
“(I knew) beginning of my junior year,” Barrington said. “Before that, I wasn’t really into BYU at all. But when the new coaching staff came in, it was really a family feel and an environment I wanted to be a part of.”
Adding to the family feel is that his brother, former U-Hi standout Clark Barrington, will be joining him.
“It was a good fit for me,” Barrington said. “The coaches there, they’re super great. They’ll be able to push me to the best that I want to be. My brother’s going to be going there, so I want to play with him again. That was a big part of why I chose BYU.”
Even still, he’ll take a more circuitous route to college athletics as he’ll perform a two-year Latter-day Saints mission before he starts school.
“I’ll be going on my mission first,” he said. “I’ll go on that for two years then I’ll come back and they’ll probably have me redshirt a year to get the strength back.”
He said that he’s more anxious to start school than go on his mission, but “thought it was the right thing for me to do.”
Barrington said his fondest memories of high school football weren’t necessarily anything that happened on the field itself, but the bonds forged with teammates.
“Those guys that I’ve grown really close to,” he said. “Just being able to grow those relationships and continuing to have those relationships even if we’re not going to college together.”
Barrington really thought it was special that so many of his classmates participated in the ceremony.
“It’s really sweet, seeing my friends being able to sign and continue their lives. It’s really cool seeing that.”
Gracee Dwyer was just happy to be able to keep playing softball and was proudly wearing her Central Washington sweatshirt at the ceremony. She’ll join former U-Hi outfielder Rachel Johnson at the Ellensburg school.
“You know, I always wanted to play softball in college,” Dwyer said. “The coach there, Mike Larabee, he was super interested and that was exciting to me. It’s local, but it’s not too close at the same time. They have a great program and it’s getting better. I’m just really excited.
“I had some from Montana (schools), but I just really stuck with Central. It was the only program that really interested me.”
Dwyer was also impressed with the number of athletes from U-Hi who signed all at once.
“It’s so cool,” she said. “And to be able to grow up with all of them and to have them all here again, it’s awesome.”
With the unusually warm temperatures the past couple of weeks, Dwyer’s been itching to get back on the field.
“I’m so excited (for the upcoming season), I can not wait,” she said. “We just had our softball meeting (Tuesday) and we had so many girls come out. I’m so excited.
“The first day that it was really nice out I was like, ‘I need to play softball.’ I should be outside right now.”
Basketball player Claire Dingus settled on Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Washington.
“I liked that they were a small school and had a good engineering program,” Dingus said. “On the visit, I really liked the team and the coach.”
Like Dwyer, Dingus will have a familiar face waiting for her in the program – U-Hi grad Emma Kennedy is a junior with the Saints.
“I know her dad and they were telling me how nice the school is and how they really love it there,” Dingus said. “So that really helped the decision.”
Her all-out style on the court is driven by dedication to her teammates.
“I just really like to win,” she said. “Playing is fun, playing with the team – I really want to do good for them and for coach.”
Dingus is a unique athlete even for high school standards. In addition to her obvious skill on the basketball court, she was also an All-Greater Spokane League selection in cross country this fall.
“I don’t even really like cross country,” she said, despite her success at the sport. “It was just something I tried for fun and it turned out I really like the team.”
Central Valley: Kaelyn Barnes (soccer, Eastern Washington), Devin Hauenstein (soccer, Humboldt State).
Ferris: Madi VonBrethorst (track, Northwest Nazarene), Jackson Condrey (volleyball, Trine), Cameron Liss (baseball, CC Spokane), Landon Butler (soccer, Northwest Nazarene).
Gonzaga Prep: Corynn Vigil (soccer, Yakima Valley).
Lewis and Clark: Paige Malm (soccer, Seattle U), Bryan Maxwell (soccer, Montana State-Billings), Sam Weldon (football, Whitworth).
Mead: Orom Opiew (football, Central Washington), Olivia Sloan (soccer, Central Washington), Nicole Luckey (volleyball, Chicago State), Brianna Krygier (soccer, CC Spokane), Riley Whelan (baseball, CC Spokane).
University: Campbell Barrington (football, BYU), Kendall Bastine (soccer, CC Spokane), Brooke Berg (soccer, Montana State-Billings), Tanner Christensen (basketball, Idaho), Amanda Gerard (soccer, Whitworth), Hannah Click (softball, North Idaho), Claire Dingus (basketball, Saint Martin’s), Gracee Dwyer (softball, Central Washington), Brianna Hecker (softball, North Idaho), Rachael Schlect (volleyball, Point Loma Nazarene), Katie Smithgall (tennis, Whitworth), Madison Szafransky (soccer, North Idaho).
Mt. Spokane: Payton Stiles (soccer, Utah), Cole Hattenburg (baseball, Yakima Valley), Emily Williams (soccer, CC Spokane), Risona Ama (football, Eastern Washington), Miahna Waters (volleyball, Southern Utah).
North Central: Gavin Geis (wrestling, Providence-Great Falls), Aiden Chapparro (soccer, Seattle Pacific), Paula Pinter (softball, CC Spokane).
Shadle Park: Emilie Tangeman (soccer, Wenatchee Valley).
Cheney: Riley Klaus (soccer, North Idaho), Dylan Arthur (baseball, Shoreline), Dalton Mauzay (soccer, Montana State-Billings), Logan Kendall (football, Idaho).
Clarkston: MaKinzie Packwood (soccer, Central Washington)
Liberty: Jawuan Nave (football, Rocky Mountain)
Northwest Christian: Mattea Nelson (softball, Northwest Univ.), Matthew Brown (football, Ottawa (AZ)).
Coeur d’Alene: Cole Ramseyer (football, Boise State), Noah Gunn (football, Air Force Academy), Ross Chadderdon (football, Idaho), Caleb Beggerly (football, Montana Tech), Kyler Prendergast (football, Montana Tech), Gabe Zanetti (football, Montana Tech), Jonathan Hoffman (football, Rocky Mountain), Derek Gove (football, Lewis and Clark SC), Seth Harrison (football, Eastern Washington), Betty Comack (softball, North Idaho), Megan Drake (soccer, Eastern Washington), Kylie Hanson (soccer, Montana), Samantha Swayze (volleyball, Idaho).
Lake City: Arlaina Stephenson (volleyball, Saint Leo), Ashley Reyes (volleyball, California Lutheran), Samantha Dement (golf, College of Idaho), Reilly Williams (softball, Montana), Kyle Manzardo (baseball, Washington State), Kodie Kolden (baseball, Washington State).
Post Falls: Quin Bennett (baseball, Wenatchee Valley), Amanda Rouse (softball, Skagit Valley), Nate Buer (football, Montana Tech), Sydney Parks (volleyball, Montana Tech), Jake Pfennigs (baseball, Oregon State), Braydon Huber (wrestling, University of Mary), Melody Kempton (basketball, Gonzaga), Bayley Brennan (basketball, Seattle Pacific), Mackie Morris (volleyball, California State University-Stanislaus), Allison Munday (volleyball, Idaho).
Lewiston: Madison Stoddard (volleyball, Rocky Mountain), Nicholas Blume (football, Montana Tech), Cameron Cady (basketball, Providence-Great Falls).
Lakeland: Max Baker (baseball, Big Bend CC), Dylan Bradbury (baseball, CC Spokane).
Moscow: Grace Meyer (basketball: Montana Western), Ashley Murphy (volleyball, Huntingdon-Alabama), Lauren Zuba (soccer, Northwest Nazarene).