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Signing Day Commences Today

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La Cueva’s Alford, Eldorado’s Neal top long metro-area list

After today, rivals Bryce Alford and Cullen Neal are expected to be officially committed to colleges.

The November signing period begins today, and a slew of athletes from around the metro area – led by Neal and Alford – plan to sign their national letters of intent amid great fanfare at local campuses.

The two most prominent names in the bunch are the coaches’ kids, Neal and Alford, whose fathers are longtime friends and men’s basketball coaches at UNM.

Alford, a senior guard from La Cueva, will be joining older brother Kory with the Lobos.

A few miles away, Neal, Eldorado’s standout guard, is expected to sign with Saint Mary’s.

The Lobos are scoring on other fronts, besides just landing Alford.

La Cueva has two other UNM signees in volleyball player Julia Warren, a dynamic outside hitter, and softball player Jasmine Casados, who is a catcher and infielder.

UNM baseball coach Ray Birmingham is expected to snag three locals – St. Pius outfielder Cody Bower, Sandia pitcher Carson Schneider and Volcano Vista middle infielder Andre Vigil, who was arguably the state’s best player last season.

And two other metro-area athletes are still expected to sign with the Lobos, they just won’t be doing it today.

Cleveland outside hitter Cassie House, who along with Warren is a leading candidate for 5A player of the year in volleyball, is waiting until after this week’s state tournament, Storm coach Brian Ainsworth said.

“She’s made a decision to focus on high school,” Ainsworth said. “She didn’t want any interruptions going into the state tournament.”

Cleveland running back Romell Jordan also won’t sign just yet, but his coach, Heath Ridenour, said Jordan still plans to join Lobo Nation.

“No doubt,” Ridenour said.

Albuquerque Academy baseball player Tyler Buffett, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, plans to sign today with Oklahoma State.

Eldorado’s Christine Martinez is expected to sign with Southern Illinois, Eagles athletic director Mike Huston said, but he didn’t believe she would sign during the early period. In fact, a large majority of soccer players who sign letters of intent usually wait until the February signing period.

The most recent Class 5A cross-country champions, Luis Martinez and Malia Gonzales, both from Cleveland, won’t be among those signing during this early period.

Martinez, a three-time state champion, has a number of Division I programs after him, including Notre Dame, New Mexico, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Vigil is one of five Volcano Vista baseball signees. Hawks catcher/infielder Jacob Garcia is signing with Northern Colorado. Three other Hawks – first baseman Dylan Dudley, pitcher Brian Fox and third baseman Brock Sullivan – are signing today with Oklahoma Panhandle State in Goodwell, Okla.

In wrestling, Cleveland’s nationally ranked – and multiple state champion – Paul Mascareñas plans to sign with South Dakota State, a solid Division I program.

From Highland, girls basketball player Sydney Graham, a 5-foot-8 point guard, is expected to sign with Air Force. She is a four-year starter with the Hornets.

Brandi Torr from La Cueva’s volleyball team plans to sign today with Metro State in Denver.

NOTE: Coaches or parents who didn’t see the name of an athlete who is expected to sign today or later in the week should email all the pertinent information to sports@abqjournal.com.
> — This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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