Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 4, 2011

Local prep athletes take big step toward college

by Keith Peters

It was a special day for thousands of high school athletes around the nation as they signed their national letter of intent on Wednesday to continue their playing careers in college next season.

Palo Alto High had its own share of recruited athletes sign, as well, during a ceremony likely duplicated around the country.

Six featured athletes, joined by their family and coach, signed up with the college of their choice — Davante Adams with Fresno State football, Kevin Anderson with Stanford football, TJ Braff with Santa Clara baseball, Alex Kershner with Duke women's soccer, Tony Panayides with Colgate soccer and Zach Spain with Presbyterian College lacrosse.

"I am proud of our athletes," said Earl Hansen, Paly's athletic director and football coach. "They represent a small fraction of a larger group of talented scholar-athletes who are going on to play at the collegiate level."

It was perhaps a special day for Adams, Anderson and Braff. All played on Paly's CIF Division state championship football team in the fall. Braff and Adams are currently teammates on the Vikings' first-place basketball team. In the spring, Braff will be playing baseball on a squad hoping to win a Central Coast Section title.

All three athletes could be instrumental to one of the finest overall athletic seasons in school history.

Panayides and Kershner, meanwhile, are close to finishing their prep careers while trying to help their respective squads reach the CCS playoffs. Spain still has his final lacrosse season coming up.

Paly could have 30 student-athletes who will be heading off to college and competing, not all with scholarships. Swimmer Sarah Liang is just one of many athletes heading to the Ivy League (she'll swim at Princeton), which doesn't offer scholarships. Quarterback Christoph Bono is another without a letter of intent. He's expected to walk on at UCLA in the fall.

Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, announced 13 student-athletes who will continue competing in college.

Reed and Will McConnell have been together all of their lives. That will change next fall, however.The basketball twins will continue their careers in college, but on different sides of the country. Reed has committed to play for UC Irvine while Will will play for Dartmouth.

Water polo standout Philip Bamberg is headed to USC and will be joined by soccer standout Geena Graumann. Joining Will McConnell at Dartmouth will be Pedro Robinson, who will go as a football player despite also being a talented tennis player.

Staying in California will be Abby Dahlkemper (UCLA soccer), Robert Dunlevie (Stanford water polo), Andrew Malozsak (UC San Diego tennis) and Andrew Savage (Pomona swimming).

Heading out of state will be Nick Caine (Trinity University swimming), Eliza Henderson (Georgetown swimming), Alec Mishra (Kenyon soccer) and Joe Wise (Loyola-Maryland swimming).

Sacred Heart Prep's graduating class of 2011 marks the fifth consecutive class where at least a dozen SHP student-athletes have been able to continue their playing careers as recruited athletes.

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