Roundup of signing events and news throughout the Pikes Peak region:


Four from Cheyenne Mountain volleyball confirm commitments

The majority of Cheyenne Mountain’s volleyball team – Emma Barkley, Hannah Huffman, MacKenzie Kessel and Janae Vander Ploeg – made their college choices official in the school’s cafeteria as their parents and friends looked on Wednesday.


Vander Ploeg, the team’s leading outside hitter who has helped propel the Indians to three straight state titles, will attend Northern Arizona and is excited about the opportunity.

“It was just really exciting to be able to sign with my teammates and also with Canyon (Barry), because I’ve grown up with him and known him since kindergarten,” said Vander Ploeg, who will likely leave the school having earned 12 varsity letters. “It was just a really fun atmosphere and great to be a part of. I absolutely love playing volleyball, and it’s one of my great passions in life, so I’m really glad I’ll get to continue doing that in college.”

Barkley, another outside hitter and the daughter of Indians coach David Barkley, will play at Division I Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C.

“I was so excited, but nervous at the same time,” Barkley said of the signing ceremony. “It was amazing, because I had three of my best friends next to me, and we were all signing together. It was a really big moment for us.”

Huffman will take her big hitting abilities to Division II Wingate (N.C.) University.

“Not only was I committing, but so were my closest friends, so it was fun,” Huffman said. “I’ve met a bunch of the girls (at Wingate), and they’re all really nice, so I’m excited to be a part of their team.”

Division III Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, will be the next step for Kessel, the Indians’ talented libero.

“It was incredible to be with some of my closest friends and share the accomplishment of signing,” Kessel said. “It’s definitely surreal, but to continue a sport I love is a great feeling. It’s crazy to be a senior, and it’s flown by. It’s been beyond fun.”

Another key member of the team of the unbeaten Indians, junior setter Monique Domme, has already committed to the Division I program at Denver.


Coronado grad Burak headed to nation’s best wrestling program

Recent Coronado grad Nathan Burak took the year off to work out at the Olympic Training Center, and the extra work has been rewarded with a spot on the wrestling program at Iowa.

According to Hawk Central, a combined effort between the Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Des Moines Register, Burak picked the Hawkeyes over Nebraska and Penn.

Last year’s 5A champion at 189 pounds after going 44-0, Burak made a name for himself on a national level when he placed fourth in Greco-Roman and third in freestyle at the Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D., this past summer.

Burak told Hawk Central his plan of staying in Colorado Springs for the extra year paved the way for the strong showing in North Dakota and ultimately the spot with an Iowa program that has won 23 NCAA championships, including titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“My brothers both stayed at the OTC for two years and that worked out well for them,” said Burak, who figures to step into Iowa’s lineup next year at 197 pounds. “It’s right here in town and it gives you another year to mature and it gives you more opportunities. I don’t know for sure where I would’ve gone after my senior year, but doing well in Fargo opened up more opportunities.”


Division I baseball recruits follow through with plans

Liberty’s Brent Williams followed through with a commitment made this fall to sign with the baseball program at Oklahoma State.

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Williams, a catcher, chose the Cowboys after an enjoyable trip over Labor Day weekend.

He signed on Wednesday morning in a ceremony that included softball player Kristen Bagely (Augusta State) and volleyball player Tammy King (Metro State).

When Williams first told The Gazette of his intention to attend Oklahoma State in October, he mentioned the visit he had with the Cowboys’ baseball team, the proximity of family in the area, the academics and, in general, the enthusiasm for the school throughout Stillwater, Okla.

“The whole town was just all about Oklahoma State,” Williams said.

Another Division I baseball recruit, Pine Creek pitcher/outfielder Ryan Warner, will sign with N.C. State in a ceremony Tuesday.

Lewis-Palmer produces pool full of Division I talent

The area’s best swimming program will be well represented at the next level, as Lewis-Palmer’s Ryan Arata signed with Stanford, Laura Day signed with Liberty and diver Chandler Marshall signed with San Diego State.

Arata earned National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association All-America honors last year in the 100 butterfly (20th nationally) and the 100 backstroke (23rd nationally). He was the 5A state champion in the 100 butterfly.

"(Stanford is) a pretty big school for swimming," said Arata, the son of Rangers coach Alan Arata. "They're always top three NCAA. And I'm going to be one of their lesser guys coming in, but hopefully I can make it up to the top.

"It's going to be an adventure. Stanford is very well renowned for academics, and they have an incredible swim team. Two of the things I'm very passionate about I'm going to continue on into college."

Day finished second in the state last year in the 100 breaststroke and Marshall took third in diving.


Fountain-Fort Carson battery stays intact

Lauryn Chase enjoyed all kinds of success at Fountain-Fort Carson while pitching to catcher Adara Erickson.

Now, the two may be able to continue that partnership as they both signed to play at the Division II program at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan.

Chase went 13-3 with a 1.72 ERA and batted .544 as the Trojans went 10-0 in the 5A Metro League and advanced to the state tournament.

Erickson, a four-year starter, hit .442 this year with a team-high 23 RBIs.


Colorado pair sign with UCCS

Club teammates Brandon Applehans and Alex Welsh signed letters of intent with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Applehans is a 5-foot-10 point guard from Standley Lake and Welsh is a 6-7 forward from Pomona. Both are part of the Colorado Chaos Basketball Club, which also features local standouts Josh Scott and Nate Engesser.



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