Wrestling opponents probably began sweating Wednesday morning when Elyria senior Brendon Fenton said that now that he’s signed with Eastern Michigan, the pressure’s off. That could be a problem for the rest of the field as Fenton has already captured a pair of Division I state championships while apparently under duress.
“I can just go and wrestle,” Fenton said. “I’m just going to go out, senior year, and just do the best I can do. I want to go out and place or win the (Walsh Jesuit) Ironman and Beast (of the East).”
Fenton was one of several dozen Lorain County athletes who took advantage of the early National Signing Day, and one of two Pioneers — Devin Nail, who will play baseball at Kent State, being the other — who signed on with NCAA Division I programs.
“It was a really long and tough (recruiting) process,” Fenton said. “We visited a lot of schools, a lot of big schools were talking to me, and some of it was the (scholarship) money and the other part was where I thought I’d do best.
“The campus I really liked, and how the team got together and how the coaches got together with their kids … there were a lot of big factors. I felt like that’s where they’d help me best.”
Amherst held a unique signing ceremony in that all four athletes were baseball players and had played together since they were young.
The quartet included two athletes headed to Division I colleges — Evan Shawver to Cincinnati and Ryan Glowacki to Fairleigh Dickinson — and a pair of Division II recruits — Anthony Berrios to Lake Erie College and Hunter Cassidy to Tiffin.
“We’ve been friends growing up, and always playing with them and knowing they developed as players and so did I … it’s just a good feeling at the end of the day, that all that work we put in finally paid off,” Shawver said.
Playing for a big school was on Glowacki’s wish list for a long time.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve wanted to play D-I baseball ever since I can remember picking up a bat and throwing a ball in the air. When the opportunity came, it was surreal. It was an experience that I’ll never forget and I look forward to the opportunities ahead.”
The foursome was part of Comets teams that went to the regional tournament in 2016 and to the district final last season.
“I hope we can go further than we did last season and make something happen,” Glowacki said. “Growing up with Hunter, Evan and Anthony, all the way since sixth grade when I was playing travel baseball. It’s a special opportunity, especially doing it with those three.”
The Comets aren’t the only county athletes who will be enjoying a final spring on a high school diamond before heading off to a Division I school.
Avon’s Tina Clark signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball for the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill.
“I actually had never heard of them until they started recruiting me,” Clark said. “It’s a really small school, so not a lot of people know about it. Once they contacted me it was great.
“I fell in love with St. Francis the first time I went on campus because I love small campuses and it’s a really small campus. It’s really family oriented and I feel like I’m part of a family already.”
The campus may be diminutive, but the Fighting Saints are not.
“They made it to regionals last year, so they made it to the Women’s College World Series,” Clark said. “We’re facing the No. 1 nationally-ranked team this year, we’re facing Oklahoma, and I’m really excited to face good competition.”
Clark was joined by two classmates who signed with Division I programs — Amari Davidson, who will play for the Dayton women’s basketball team, and Erin Gardner, who will play volleyball at Kent State.
“In third grade when I started (playing volleyball), I’d always go to big games and watch and be like, ‘Oh, I want to do that,’ and now it’s all finally becoming real,” Gardner said. “How (the Golden Flashes) found me was at a high school camp. The coaches started to follow me through high school and they contacted me during (Junior Olympics). I didn’t find it super stressful. I thought it was fun … just to go carry out my dreams.”
Two other county players joined Davidson in signing with Division I women’s basketball programs — Izzy Geraci of North Ridgeville and Michaela Harrison of Lake Ridge.
Geraci became the Rangers’ first girls basketball player to earn a Division I scholarship when she chose Cleveland State last month.
“It’s crazy because I actually didn’t know that before (Rangers coach Amy Esser) told me when I committed,” Geraci said. “That’s a big, big thing. I think it’s a super-cool achievement to have done, and hopefully more girls decide they want to go to college and work for it. I hope it inspires other girls.”
Geraci knew the signing moment was special before the moment even occurred.
“I was sitting in math class before this and I was trying to take notes and my hand was shaking,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is really happening. I’m actually going to be signing.’
“This is just awesome, walking in and seeing everyone here for me. Knowing they have my back, it’s just a great, great experience. I’m blessed to be able to say I’ve done it.”
Harrison signed with Mount St. Mary’s University, a choice that became easy thanks to coach Maria Marchesano.
“She had been previously at Walsh and recruited me there, and when she got over to Mount St. Mary’s she called me up again and said, ‘Hey, come down for a visit,’” Harrison said. “I knew it was something special when a coach asked you twice, at two different universities, to come and see them.”
Harrison signed along side longtime teammate Sydney Mayberry, who will play at Walsh, and talked about how excited the pair was for their senior season.
“We are definitely very motivated,” Harrison said. “Sydney and I, our sophomore year we were so close to going to state. That’s our drive. We want to be able to leave something after our senior year for people to follow. We’re trying to get to state … and win state.”
AMHERST: Ryan Glowacki, baseball, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Evan Shawver, baseball, University of Cincinnati; Anthony Berrios, baseball, Lake Erie College; Hunter Cassidy, baseball, Tiffin University. AVON: Amari Davidson, women’s basketball, University of Dayton; Erin Gardner, volleyball, Kent State University; Zoe Gadomski, volleyball, Mercyhurst University; Christina Clark, softball, University of St. Francis; Dylan Morris, men’s soccer, Tiffin University; Will Laurendeau, baseball, Ohio Dominican University. ELYRIA: Brendon Fenton, wrestling, Eastern Michigan University; Macy Taylor, softball, Truman State University; Allison Guerini, volleyball, University of Mount Union; Devin Nail, baseball, Kent State University. LAKE RIDGE: Michaela Harrison, women’s basketball, Mount St. Mary’s University; Sydney Mayberry, women’s basketball, Walsh University; Jordyn Spencer, swimming, Canisius College. NORTH RIDGEVILLE: Isabella Geraci, women’s basketball, Cleveland State University.