Aquatic sports compiled the most athletes as five swimmers and a water polo player from Santa Margarita Catholic High School signed a National Letter of Intent or celebrated a college commitment on April 12.
Of the swimmers, three inked with Division I colleges: Jeni Griffin (Tulane), Allison Plamondon (Seattle) and Christian Wilinski (Holy Cross), while Lucia Carballo, also a member of the women’s Mexican junior national water polo team, signed with San Diego State.
Santa Margarita swimming standouts Julia Ferrara (Babson) and Zachary Lebovic (Lewis & Clark) also commemorated their college commitments.
In total, 14 athletes from Santa Margarita signed an NLI or observed a college commitment on the third and final National Signing Day of the school year. For most athletes, including football players, Feb. 1 was the first day a senior could officially sign an NLI. The first early signing day for some spring sports was in November.
A three-time school record-holder, Griffin started her prep career on JV with no competitive swimming experience, but worked tirelessly to become a three-year varsity swimmer and a member of three straight CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship teams. A team captain in 2017, Griffin swam on the school record-setting 200-yard freestyle, 300 free and 200 butterfly relay teams. The Eagles’ 200 butterfly relay also won the CIF Division 1 title last year.
Plamondon will graduate as one of the Eagles’ most versatile swimmers in history, having qualified and competed in four events – the 50 free, 100 free, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. A four-year varsity swimmer, Plamondon also swam on the Eagles’ record-setting 300 free relay and competed on three straight CIF title teams.
Wilinski entered this spring as a three-time CIF qualifier in the 100 back and 100 fly last season and 100 fly in 2015. Wilinski’s times in those two swims, plus the 200 free, 500 free and 200 individual medley, rank him in the top 20 all-time in five events at Margarita.
Griffin, Plamondon and Wilinski were all named to the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Academic All-American team.
The fourth Eagle Division 1 aquatics signee, Carballo, who led the Mexican junior national team in goals scored last year, has been among Margarita’s top offensive threats in girls water polo the past two seasons, earning All-Trinity League honors in 2016 and 2017. She was named the team’s defensive MVP and won the Eagle Award in 2017.
The other 10 Eagle athletes who celebrated a college commitment are either headed to an Ivy League or Division III school, or attending as a walk-on and are not receiving an athletic scholarship. Ivy League and Division III schools do not give athletic scholarships, although many athletes are provided with grants and other types of scholarships.
In addition to Ferrara and Lebovic, three track and field athletes, two volleyball players, a golfer, baseball player and basketball player were spotlighted at the Eagles’ NLI and college commitment ceremony.
Ferrara, whose best event is the 100 breaststroke, in which she is ranked among the top 40 all-time in school history, is a highly decorated swimmer, having earned the Coaches’ Award in 2014, Most Improved Award in 2015 and the Scholar-Athlete Award in 2016. This year’s team awards banquet is after this edition of the Orange County Catholic News. Ferrara is a four–year member of the Eagles’ swim program and known for her team–first attitude and willingness to swim any event the team needs.
Lebovic, who excels in the 100 fly, 100 breast and 100 back, in which he is listed among the top 50 all-time in all three events in Eagle archives, is a four–year lettermen and a member of the Eagles’ Trinity League championship team in 2014. Lebovic was voted one of the Eagles’ tri-captains this season, an honor that reflects the high esteem his teammates have for his leadership.
In track and field, triple jumper Elizabeth Weeks (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), high jumper Liana Edgar (UC San Diego) and 800-meter standout Trevor Brouelette (Redlands) participated in the NLI signing and college commitment festivity.
Also featured at the event and representing the girls’ volleyball team were Gretchen Reinert (Santa Clara) and Hannah Dolan (Johnson & Wales), while girls’ basketball guard Isabella Maramica (Claremont McKenna), golfer Brooke Leet (Chapman) and baseball player Nicolas DeFazio (Trinity) were among the highlighted honorees.
Reinert and Dolan were part of the 2016 Eagle volleyball squad that captured CIF Division I and State Regional championships, as well as State Division I runner-up accolades.
Maramica averaged 11 points and three assists per game for Margarita last season and made second-team All-Trinity League.
Leet played a significant role on the Eagles’ Trinity League championship golf teams in 2015 and 2016. She earned the Eagle Award in 2016 and second-team all-league.
Along with baseball, DeFazio, an infielder, helps coach the Challenger Division for special needs children in youth baseball.