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Twelve North Penn seniors sign letters of intent

TOWAMENCIN >> It was a significant moment for 12 North Penn senior student-athletes Thursday morning in the auditorium at North Penn High School. They signed their college letters of intent while family and friends looked on wearing the colors of their future schools.

It was clear that the Knights girls basketball team is filled with talent. Jess Huber, Irisa Ye and Sam Carangi sat next to each other as they made their college decisions official.

“I’m very proud of these three girls,” girls basketball coach Maggie deMarteleire said. “They set a tremendous example for the younger girls. I’m sure when we walk into the gym this year, the opponents and the fans in the stands from the other teams will probably be saying, ‘They’re still here?’ It’s been just a pleasure to watch them grow.”

Carangi is following her parents’ footsteps and taking her talents to Villanova University.

Huber and Ye will be playing together at the University of the Sciences.

“We’ve been playing basketball with each other for four years and we also played on the same AAU team,” Huber said. “I think the transition (to college) is going to be great and easy and smooth. We know each other very well. I think that’s going to incorporate itself onto the court.”

The golf team is sending two players to Division I programs. Andrew Lombardo will be attending Colgate University and Rob Robinson is heading to Monmouth University.

“These two guys have been the rock for our golf team,” golf coach Dave DeValentino said. “Their stats are the best stats — I’ve been looking through the golf stats for the past 50 years, back in the 70’s — couldn’t find anything that matches these two guys over the past four years.”

Lombardo did not start playing golf for the high school team until his sophomore year, when hip issues forced him away from soccer.

“Before 10th grade I really just played for fun,” he said. “I’d go out on the weekends with my dad. When I started having hip problems I decided in ninth grade that I’d just try golf for a year and see how it was. I was actually planning to play on the soccer team for 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Then I really, really, really liked golf after ninth grade and I started to get more competitive with it. I started having more problems with my hip and that made my decision easier and I decided I wanted to play golf over soccer for the rest of high school and possibly into college.”

Field Hockey standout Amber Blackshear will attend La Salle University.

“Amber Blackshear was a four-year starter for us since ninth grade,” assistant field hockey coach Carolyn Edwards said. “She was a huge contributor for us every year she’s been on the team. She ended her career here at the high school with eight goals and 10 assists — that doesn’t show how much she does for us on the field. Not only on the field but off the field, she’s a huge leader to all of our underclassmen and fellow seniors.”

Swimmer Heather Hartmann is going to Marist College.

“I knew that Marist was the obvious choice for her when she came home and had an absolute gigantic smile on her face and was so thrilled with what they had to offer her,” Hartmann’s long-time swim coach Jeff Faikish said. “We wish her the best of luck.”

Bri Battavio plans to study early education while playing softball at Monmouth University.

“As soon as I stepped on campus it felt like a perfect fit for me,” Battavio said. “All the girls were awesome and the coach was amazing. It felt like home.”

“She improved and wanted to pitch so bad that between her sophomore and junior years she went from throwing 56-57 miles per hour to 63-64,” softball coach Rick Torresani said. “When you talk about baseball, that’s going from 80 to 90-92. She worked so hard in the weight room, with her pitching coach during the winter months and last year she was unbelievable. She had three shutouts. She won a district game 1-0 and really carried the team last year.”

Bryce Hoch will attend Penn State University as a diver.

“It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak about Bryce Hoch,” diving coach Kyle Goldbacher said. “He’s quite an athlete. He has lean muscle mass and quick-twitch response that translates well into the sport of diving. He’s got an explosiveness that has enabled him to develop a dive list with a higher degree of difficulty than any high school athlete in the state of Pennsylvania … He will be entering the Big 10, which is going to be very challenging. It’s a very competitive conference and all of our recent Olympians have come from that conference, which (Hoch) will be competing directly against — it’s not going to be Pennridge and Quakertown. If anybody has the ability to meet that challenge, it’s going to be Bryce.”

Mikaela Vlasic signed with the University of Pittsburgh, where her older sister goes to school, for track and field. She is on pace to accomplish the rare feat of earning 12 varsity letters — four for cross country, four for winter track and four for spring track.

“We’ve had a number of outstanding middle distance runners at North Penn over the years,” cross country coach Jim Crawford said. “But I would have to say Mikaela’s natural talent and ability is right up at the very top — if not the top. She just has unbelievable strength. She has a lot of speed for a middle distance runner. She has endurance being a distance runner … She’s had a busy career at North Penn. It’s been an honor and a priviledge for me to be her coach.”

Matt Stevenson is headed to Millersville University for baseball. The program finished second in the NCAA Division II World Series last year.

“I’ve wanted to play baseball in college since I started playing baseball,” Stevenson said. “It’s always been a dream to continue playing.”

“Matt is a 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher,” baseball coach Kevin Manero said. “He’s 6-foot-6 and he’s got a great pitcher’s body … Last year he evolved into a pitcher and ended up with a sub-2.30 ERA, which is tremendous for high school. A lot of coaches liked him, but coach (Jon) Shehan at Millersville really liked him because he said he’s the kind of pitcher that he can bring in there that some of the Division I schools might pass on because he’s not throwing 90 mph yet, but he knows he can turn him into one of those guys after he’s there for a few years. He’s going to a great program with a great coach. He’s a great kid, great perspective. For all those reasons — in addition to his physical abilities — I think he’s going to have a tremendous career there.”

Madaline Rinker will play lacrosse at Shippensburg University.

“Maddy is a great kid,” girls lacrosse coach Heather Mellow said. “I wish I could duplicate her and have many of her on my team. She’s just a positive player on and off the field, gives it her all at practice and in the games. She was a quiet leader for us, but a very good leader for us.”

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