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Local athletes set to make their college plans official

Signing day and your 18th birthday? Let’s just say that Hayden Walker is winning National Signing Day like few others.

Prep athletes from around New Mexico – like Walker, St. Pius’ gifted left-handed pitcher – will be signing their letters of intent on Wednesday.

That includes a large number of Division I athletes from the metro area.

Walker turns 18 on Wednesday. His junior season was highlighted by helping to lead the Sartans to the Class 4A state title. He will be signing with Pepperdine, with whom he made a verbal commitment in September of 2018.

“They expect me to play a pretty big role right away,” said Walker, the Gatorade Player of the Year for New Mexico last season. “Hopefully, I can get in there and keep working hard.”

Walker’s upside is such that he might be drafted next June, forcing him to possibly make a decision between college and turning pro.

Walker isn’t the only Albuquerque athlete who’s signing with Pepperdine on Wednesday. Cibola’s 5-foot-5 basketball point guard, Isabel Montoya, also is signing with the Waves. She’s been battling knee and shoulder ailments the last two years, playing only a few weeks of her sophomore and junior seasons with the Cougars before missing the remainder of them.

Deezha Battle from Volcano Vista currently plays for Pepperdine; former Cibola standout Skye Barnett is Pepperdine’s director of operations.

La Cueva’s outstanding combo guard, Kaya Ingram, will sign on Wednesday with Cornell.

The hometown Lobos aren’t going wanting on Wednesday. Three girls from Volcano Vista’s state championship soccer team – Dalis Bruce, Natalia Bruciaga and Arianna Cisneros – will sign with the Lobos.

Rio Rancho softball standout Savana Martinez, from last season’s Class 5A state champ Rio Rancho, also is going to sign on Wednesday with UNM. Baseball players Chase Weissenborn of Albuquerque Academy and Mason Ashcraft of St. Pius, too.

New Mexico State will have its own haul on signing day. One of the local athletes going to Las Cruces is La Cueva volleyball standout Mariana Sharp.

Two other slugging members of that Rio Rancho softball team, Kendra Levesque and Brianna Gallegos, also are signing to play for the Aggies, in addition to Sandia’s big-hitting Jayleen Burton. Sandia Prep soccer player Jackie Rodriguez, who was part of four state championship teams in her career at Prep, will sign on Wednesday with NMSU.

Soccer tends to have more local D-1 signees than just about any sport, and that is true again this year.

Cibola’s Sydni Burrup has been a staple for the Cougars for four years. She’ll be signing with Gonzaga, while teammate Nicole Estrada signs with D-1 University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Another of Volcano Vista’s contributors, Berit Robnett, is signing with Wyoming. Audrey Colter of Albuquerque Academy is signing with Air Force.

From La Cueva’s girls soccer program, Cam Dixon is signing with Portland State and Emma Moore with Hawaii.

In tennis, Eldorado’s state champion, Carmen Corley, is going to sign with Oklahoma, thereby joining her older sister Ivana in Norman. Carmen Corley has won two singles titles with the Eagles and is one of the highest-ranked juniors in the regional ranks of the United States Tennis Association.

Volcano Vista pitcher Darius Garcia, who helped the Hawks win the 5A state crown in May, will be signing with Texas Tech. Rio Rancho’s Noah Brewer is signing with Incarnate Word.

The dynasty that is Albuquerque Academy swimming will produce another D-1 athlete this season in Jake Hand, who is signing on Wednesday with the University of Arizona.

“I felt immediately welcomed there, I felt like, those are my people,” said Hand, who swims the 200 IM and breaststroke for the Chargers. “It’s a good environment there, and I’m excited to (be part of it).”

Sandia swimmer Fiona Trotz is signing with San Diego State, and Valencia softball player Julie Logan is signing with Bradley.

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