Athletic staff, friends and family met at Mountain Ridge High on Wednesday morning to celebrate the five players set to continue their athletic and academic careers in college. Five seniors signed commitment letters to play collegiate sports next academic year as part of the school’s National Letter of Intent Signing Day.
Among the signees were Garrett Olson, who signed to University of Wisconsin – Parkside to play on the school’s golf team. Olson finished tied for 22nd at the 2019 AIA Division 1 golf state tournament in November. He said the proximity to extended family in Wisconsin and the coaching staff’s recruitment efforts were enough to secure his commitment.
He also plays baseball, and was excited to see his teammates receive a chance to continue playing the sport they love next year.
“I’ve played with a lot of these guys since we were like ten,” he said. “So to see everyone going to play college sports is really cool.”
Three of his teammates on the baseball team signed on Feb. 5, to go with five others that had already committed to playing college ball. Brock Arnold signed to Paradise Valley Community College, Travis Warinner to Yavapai Community College and Jace Young to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The Mountain Lions reached the semifinals of the 6A state playoffs in 2019. Coach Artie Cox said the senior-heavy group now can relax a little bit, and focus on competing again for a state title.
“It’s just so much pressure for these kids trying to find a school, that once it happens they can breathe. You can see it in their play because they’re not so tight, thinking that everything they do, people are watching them. So I’m excited for the next step,” Cox said.
Ellis, who was a main piece in Mountain Ridge’s 2019 playoff football season that surprised the state after an 0-10 record in 2018, signed to play football at Northern Arizona University.
He said the recruiting process was, at times, frustrating. He averaged a 6A-high 13 tackles per game, but he and the Mountain Lion staff believe he was not sought after the way many his peers with similar numbers were.
However, the NAU offer came in to Ellis in early January, and he said the coaching staff and proximity to home were major factors in his decision.
“I think at the end of the day, God has a plan for me, and this is it,” Ellis said. “I’m ready and pumped to get to work.”
Five athletes signed commitment letters on Wednesday:
- Brock Arnold – Paradise Valley Community College – baseball
- Tommy Ellis – Northern Arizona University – football
- Garrett Olson – University of Wisconsin – Parkside – golf
- Travis Warinner – Yavapai Community College – baseball
- Jace Young – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - baseball