As Annie Meeder walked toward the Paso Robles High School Performing Arts Center on Thursday, she spotted fellow classmates and distance runners Luis Armendariz and Trad Berti.
“I need my people,” Meeder said to them.
She grabbed her teammates and together they walked into the a center filled with friends, family and four other Paso Robles athletes. A few minutes later all seven standouts signed National Letters of Intent, in a ceremonial rite of passage to mark the transition from high school to college sports.
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Meeder will have at least one of her people with her when she begins her college career in the fall. Meeder, the county champion in both the 1,600- and 3200-meter events who also had a scholarship offer from St. Mary’s, will join the Cal Poly cross country and track and field teams on a scholarship. Armendariz, the county champion in the 3,200-meter, joins the Cal Poly cross country team with the benefit of financial aid.
The third signee from a historically successful program led by coach Ivan Huff was Berti who signed with Chico State.
“The thing that makes these kids so successful — athletics is about lifestyle,” Huff said. “It’s not about what you do for those two hours at practice, it’s what you do 24/7. And these guys bought into the program and wanted to become better all-around athletes.”
Meeder and Berti will graduate as school record holders in the mile and 2 mile.
Huff made sure to keep his comments short and sweet so Meeder and Berti could finish the ceremony quickly and get to practice. Both runners are high seeds for the Division 2 CIF-Southern Section Prelims on Saturday in Moorpark.
Volleyball Twins Diverge
Gabby and Madison Morrison have shared everything, not just a love of volleyball.
The fraternal twins, who transferred from North County Christian, shared heartbreak when they found out a semester of online high school counted as a second transfer — a move that cost them their junior season eligibility.
“We came in thinking we could play junior year, when we couldn’t we were pretty bummed,” Madison Morrison said.
The twins still played plenty of club volleyball and paired up to play beach volleyball at the Pismo Beach sand volleyball courts. They got stronger, so did their already strong bond.
When they returned to the indoor court for their senior year they helped lead Paso Robles to a 10-4 PAC 8 record, a three-win improvement from a season before. Madison led the team in kills and digs as an outside hitter while Gabby, a setter, dished out 543 assists and led the team with 40 blocks. Paso Robles won its first round game in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs before falling to eventual champion Sierra Canyon.
“From sitting out an entire year to playing, it made the season so much better,” Gabby Morrison said.
The twins will be playing on different courts and living in different cities for the first time this fall. On Thursday, Gaby Morrison signed with Vanguard to play beach volleyball while Madison Morrison signed with Westmont to play indoor volleyball.
“It’s going to be weird,” they both agreed.
Plenty of road trips, and volleyball, are in their futures.
Erickson signs with Sac State
When Christian Erickson first started talking to the coaches at Sacramento State, they were interested in his defensive talents.
Erickson, who was named the Tribune County Player of the Year in large part because of his abilities as a running back, moved to defense his senior year and impressed college scouts with his athleticism and adapability. But then Sacramento State head coach Jody Sears saw Erickson’s offensive highlights.
“That’s when they were like, ‘Well, now we want you as a running back,’” Erickson said. “Perfectly fine with me.”
Erickson said Sears told him he liked his physical running style and the fact he has enough speed to run away from defenders. It’s that combination that helped Erickson rack up 19 touchdowns and nearly 120 yards per game his senior season.
“Their offense fits me perfectly. They will spread, but they also like to pound the ball,” Erickson said.
And he’s bringing a little extra motivation with him to the Big Sky Conference team this fall.
“I am going to go into college with a chip on my shoulder and to prove to everyone that didn’t think I was good enough wrong,” Erickson said.
Steven Schouten, the Bearcats quarterback last season, also signed to play football with Humboldt State on Thursday. Schouten, who played wide receiver his junior season, said he anticipates catching passes again following a red-shirt freshman year at the NorCal school.