Area athletes set to sign on the dotted line

February 4, 2014 

Alex Weber hasn’t yet revealed where he will spend the next four to five years of his life, but it’s difficult to imagine making a bad choice between the United States Air Force Academy, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.

“Besides football, education and thinking about my career,” Weber said when asked about what went into his decision. “Another factor was location. I wanted to find a place I fit in. And of course, the coaching staff.”

Weber, a Chiawana senior who helped lead the Riverhawks to the Class 4A state football championship, will reveal his decision today — along with three of his gridiron brothers and five other Chiawana athletes at a letter-of-intent signing ceremony at 3 p.m. in the Riverhawks’ auditorium.

“I’m a little anxious for (today). I’m sure it will be a little emotional. All the hard work is finally coming down to this and making the decision of my life,” said Weber, who has already begun training for his first year as a Division I football player.

In fact, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker had just arrived at the gym when he answered a reporter’s call.

“It’s really exciting to have a lot of our players signing. There are still more who are going to sign later,” said Weber, who won’t be the only one with a big reveal today. Chiawana’s first-team all-state receiver and defensive back Deion Singleton will make his decision public as to where he will go to play college football.

Singleton, who won a Class 5A Florida State championship in 2012 before winning another state title with the Riverhawks, was one of the highest-profile recruits in the Pacific Northwest this season, with the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and the Pacific-12 Conference all knocking on the Florida native’s door.

Washington State coach Mike Leach made a strong push for the speedy playmaker in the fall. A push for Pullman might make more sense, too, since his brother Lionell Singleton — a defensive back with the Tri-Cities Fever — will be a short trip away.

Singleton and Weber certainly aren’t the only high-profile athletes in the Tri-Cities moving on to four-year schools. Chiawana quarterback Joey Zamora (Western Oregon) and tight end/linebacker Grady Graff (Central Washington) will play at the next level. Riverhawks girls basketball standout Delaney Hodgins has already signed to play at Eastern Washington University, where she will join her sister Hayley, a redshirt sophomore guard.

“We’re blessed to have good athletes. We’re blessed that we’ve had success, and with that comes recognition. We also have good coaches who do a good job developing kids and putting them in that a position to be successful,” Chiawana athletic director John Cazier said. “What jumps out to me is they’re also high achievers in the classroom.”

Kamiakin senior Ellie Heiden, who has a chance to become one of the most decorated track athletes in Washington state high school history, will sign a letter of intent to attend BYU, where she will run track for one season before embarking on her Mormon mission.

The Braves, who will hold their signing ceremony next Wednesday, will have at least 20 athletes — athletic director Casey Gant is still confirming all the details — who will sign on the dotted line. Among them will be quarterback Kylle Robertson (Central Washington), linebacker Sterling Farrah (Eastern Oregon), and cross country/track star Megan Beauchene (University of Washington).

Gant said that several softball players who helped contribute to the Braves two consecutive Class 3A state softball championships will be signing as well.

In addition to Farrah, Eastern Oregon will also be getting a handful of other top area football players including Dallon Grinder of Hanford, and Alonzo Mendoza and Cody Hand of River View.

“Our receivers coach Roman O’Donnell works hard communicating with colleges. We enjoy the process,” River View coach Brett Jay said. “We enjoy having our kids do what they do well at the next level, but we also like seeing them get a chance to further their education.”

Athletes signing letters of intent

CHIAWANA: Spencer Bennion (Columbia Basin College), baseball; Grady Graff (Central Washington), football; Maddison Heine (Northwest [Ore.] University), softball; Delaney Hodgins (Eastern Washington), basketball; Danika Pink (Eastern Oregon), soccer; Deion Singleton (TBA), football; Alex Weber (TBA), football; Whitney Weber (Univ. of Colorado-Colorado Springs), softball; Joey Zamora (Western Oregon), football.

HANFORD: Dallon Grinder (Eastern Oregon), football.

KAMIAKIN: Megan Beauchene (Washington), cross country/track; Sterling Farrah (Eastern Oregon), football; Ellie Heiden (BYU), track; Kayla Peoples (Columbia Basin College), soccer; Kylle Robertson (Central Washington), football; Brianna Turley (Columbia Basin College), soccer.

KENNEWICK: Stephanie Buckingham (Lewis & Clark State), tennis; Chad McKenzie (Spokane Falls Community College), tennis; Steven Sordahl (Walla Walla Community College), baseball; Mitchell Way (Spokane Falls CC), tennis; Dylan Wilbert (Walla Walla CC), baseball.

PASCO: Abby Buckenberger (University of Puget Sound), soccer; Miguel Chavez (Spokane Falls CC), soccer; Jon Rosas (Columbia Basin College), soccer; Cassidy Rush (Columbia Basin College), soccer.

WALLA WALLA: Stuart Gillin (Trinity [Ill.] University), football.

PROSSER: Mason Schutt (Pacific Lutheran [Ore.] University), football.

RIVER VIEW: Cody Hand (Eastern Oregon), football; Alonzo Mendoza (Eastern Oregon), football.

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