National Signing Day for 26 students who commit to college athletics

By Jenelyn Russo     12/13/2019

The close of the fall sports season also means the arrival of National Signing Day, when high school student athletes have their first opportunity of the school year to sign letters of intent to play collegiate sports. 

On November 13, Santa Margarita Catholic High School saw 26 of their senior Eagles make official commitments to college athletics across nine sports. 

From the baseball diamond, six players will continue their baseball careers at the collegiate level. Roger Thomas, a left-handed pitcher and key bullpen member of the Eagles’ 2019 CIF Championship team, is headed to UC Irvine. Jonny Giannola, an All-Trinity League honoree and 2019 team leader in RBIs, doubles and stolen bases, will play baseball for San Diego State University. Connor Bane, who also played varsity football for the Eagles, has signed to play baseball for UC Santa Barbara. Trinity League Player of the Year and CIF Player of the Year Milan Tolentino will continue his playing career at UCLA. Pitcher Caden Connolly is headed to Santa Clara University. And All-CIF pitcher Matthew McClure has committed to Loyola Marymount University. 

Moving over to the pool, Santa Margarita has two divers and six swimmers make college commitments last month. Alexandra Barnes, a two-time NISCA (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) All-American and the most decorated diver in school history, has committed to the University of Wisconsin. California State Championship qualifier and fellow NISCA All-American Kayla Haigh is headed to UC Berkeley.  

Considered the greatest sprinter in Santa Margarita swim program history, Anicka Delgado will swim for USC. Delgado is a five-time CIF individual titleholder and the 2019 CIF state titleholder in the 50 yard freestyle event. Katie Nugent, a NISCA All-American in the 100 yard breaststroke, has signed to swim with UC Santa Barbara. Freestyle swimmer and relay anchor Josette Odgers has committed to UC San Diego. Natalie Oien, a national standout in distance and individual medley events, will join her teammate Odgers in swimming for the Tritons. Ella Ristic, the first swimmer in Santa Margarita history to record two individual California State championship titles (100 yard and 200 yard freestyle events in 2019), will swim for Indiana University. Mia Ristic, member of the school’s 2019 California State championship relay team, will also swim for the Hoosiers. 

From the volleyball court, Taryn Whittingham, a captain and libero for the Eagles, as well as a member of the school’s 2017 California State Championship team, is headed to Villanova University. Middle blocker and outside hitter, Malaya Jones, who is an All-League honoree, has committed to USC. Two-year varsity player Abby Lutterloh has signed with Georgetown University to play as a libero/defensive specialist. And Eagles captain and All-Trinity League honoree Kailey Walker is headed to the United States Military Academy at West Point. 

From the Eagles boys volleyball team, James Bardin, who is a four-year starter and opposite hitter and setter for the Eagles, has committed to play for Harvard University.  

Back to the pool, Santa Margarita has four student athletes from the girls water polo program who have committed to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level. Mara Loughlin, who served as a captain and starter for the Eagles 2019 girls water polo CIF Championship team, has committed to UC Berkeley. She will be joined at Cal by teammate and four-year starter Caroline Christl. Both Loughlin and Christl were participants on the USA Swimming Olympic Development Program 16U team where they won the gold medal. In 2018, Christl was awarded CIF Player of the Year honors. All-Trinity League and All-CIF honoree and defender Savannah Burns will play water polo for UC Santa Barbara. And Kori Bento, four-year varsity player for the Eagles and member of the program’s Trinity League and CIF Championship team last year, has signed with San Diego State University. 

From the Santa Margarita track and field team, Sophia Morris has committed to Biola University. A two-time member of the Eagles CIF Championship team, Morris is the current Trinity League champion in the 100 meter and 300 meter hurdles, as well as the 4 x 400 meter relay. 

Boys lacrosse player Connor Kentros will continue his playing career at the University of Utah. An All-League and All-County honoree who helped lead the Eagles to two Trinity League titles, Kentros was also named Eagles Offensive Player of the Year. 

On the softball diamond, four-year Santa Margarita starter and two-time varsity captain Julia Mortimer is headed to the University of Pennsylvania. An All-League honoree, Mortimer helped lead the Eagles to their 2019 Trinity League Championship. 

“Our student athletes never cease to amaze me,” says Santa Margarita Athletic Director, Annie Garrett. “Every year these signing day events showcase the best of the best of our student athletes here at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, and we couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of them.”