21 Ludlowe student-athletes sign college letters of intent
FAIRFIELD - For some, the process was short … and stressful. For others, the process was long … and stressful. And for still others, the process was just plain stressful, period.
Deciding on the right college to continue one’s academic - and athletic - future, is never easy. Dozens of factors are involved in choosing the best fit. And for almost two dozen Fairfield Ludlowe High School student-athletes, the recruiting and decision-making process took its toll. But now that it’s done, all 21 student-athletes are looking forward to starting the next chapter in their sports career.
Chris Jerrild, Soccer, Roanoke College
“The recruiting process ended up being great,” Jerrild wrote in a questionnaire to the Citizen (after the stressful part, of course). “It’s a good school with a good soccer program.”
Jerrild was part of the Falcons’ squad that went 9-1-6 in the regular season and lost on penalty kicks to Danbury in the opening round of the Class LL tournament.
“I’m going to be attending with friends, so it’s going to be great environment,” Jerrild wrote, who is thinking of majoring in business. ‘As for the program, the coach doesn’t care about age. Whoever competes will play.”
Colby Imbrogno, football, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Being part of a program “on the rise” as Imbrogno put it, was the deciding factor in choosing FDU to continue his athletic career.
“I liked the coaches and really felt at home on the campus,” Imbrogno wrote. “The program has changed recently and is on the rise and getting better every season.”
Imbrogno, a 6-foot, 230-pound offensive and defensive lineman last season for coach Mitch Ross, is headed to FDU with high hopes of seeing playing time as a freshman.
“The coach said I could see time my first year,” wrote Imbrogno, who is looking at majoring in Business Sports Administration.
FDU went 3-7 last season, competing in the Division III Middle Atlantic Conference.
Jasmine Hamel, Volleyball, Manhattanville College
What was it about Manhattanville that swayed Hamel to attend? Her answer took only two words.
“It’s beautiful,” she wrote.
Not too far away, Manhattanville is located in Harrison, N.Y., in Westchester County. According to Hamel, the Valiants “are good” in athletics and had “great team members” when she visited. Last season, the Valiants went 13-10 in the Division III Middle Atlantic Conference.
According to Hamel, the Manhattanville coach, Amanda Alayon, “loved new talent” and wants her players to “show passion.”
Hamel is currently undecided on a major.
Allison Wales, Field Hockey, Endicott College
It didn’t take long for Wales to lock down her decision to attend Endicott. First, “it’s a great location,” she wrote but second, “the team felt like a family,” when she visited, making the Boston-area school her choice.
Looking to major in Athletic Training, Wales liked the coaching staff and the Gulls program - which posted a 17-4 record last season, including an 11-1 mark in the Commonwealth Coast Conference, losing in the CCC tournament championship.
“The program is very strong,” she wrote. “I loved the size of the school and the team.”
Kristen Wales, Field Hockey, Salve Regina University
It took over a year for Wales to finally decide on what college to attend, putting a capital ‘S’ on the stressful part of the process.
“But it was worth it,” she wrote. “The size and location - Newport, R.I. -- of the school, the team, just the overall feel.”
Looking to major in Nursing, Wales hopes to play for Salve Regina as a freshman. “I know I’m going to have to earn playing time,” she wrote. “It’s a strong program, competing in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.”
The Seahawks finished 10-8 last season, losing to Endicott in the CCC semifinals.
Paige Davis, Track & Cross Country, Holy Cross University
At the end of her junior year, Davis started the process of deciding what college she wanted to attend. As it turns out, the size, the location and the program were all factors in choosing Holy Cross.
“It was stressful,” she wrote, about making the decision. “But the Patriot League is a strong league and the team itself was also strong.”
Undecided, for now, on a major, Davis is looking to get some varsity time this fall.
“Freshmen get to run,” she wrote. “There are meets that have qualification times.”
Last season, the Crusaders placed 10th out of 25 teams at the ECAC Cross Country Championships and were fifth at the Patriot League championships. The track team was sixth at the Patriot League Championships.
Alex Berg, Lacrosse, Wheaton College
For Berg, the recruiting process was “exciting and short.” Why? “As soon as I saw the campus, I knew this was the school.”
Wheaton is located in Norton, Mass., and according to Berg, the “campus is beautiful and the coach - Kyle Hart - “was a good fit for me.”
Hart, is in his third year at Wheaton. “He is working hard to make the team better,” Berg wrote. “He told me I could have a good chance of making the second line.”
Last season, the Lyons finished 8-7 overall, 2-5 in the NEWMAC - the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
Tory Mileti, Sailing, Hobart & William Smith College
Solid academics and a solid sailing program were what drew Mileti to Hobart & William Smith.
“They have a great sailing program, currently fourth in the country,” Mileti wrote.
Indeed. The Statesmen were first out of eight teams in the Admiral Moore Team Race, first out of 17 for the Grant Trophy, third out of 18 for the America Trophy and first out of 18 in the GILL co-ed Eastern Semifinals.
“The team made me feel like part of a family and the school has good academics,” wrote Mileti, who is thinking of majoring in Education. “I am doing to have to be really dedicated and practice hard.”
James Pushner, U.S. Naval Academy, Heavyweight Rowing
He visited Penn. He visited California-Berkley. He visited Cornell. He visited Brown. But in the end, it was the United States Naval Academy where Pushner decided to spend the next four years of his life.
“The sense of community and brotherhood on the Navy rowing team was what locked down my decision,” Pushner wrote. “Another factor was the coaches and their support for me throughout the process.”
This season, Navy placed 15 th at the IRA National Championships, 13 th at the Eastern Sprints and sixth in the San Diego Crew Classic. Overall, the Midshipmen have won 13 Adams’ Cups (winner between Harvard, Penn and Navy), 27 GOES Trophies (winner of race between Navy, Cornell and Syracuse), 25 Maxwell Stevenson Trophies (winner of race between Navy and Columbia) and 12 IRA Regatta’s.
“Navy has the largest rowing team of any school in the country,” Pushner wrote. “And they have a very impressive history.”
Pushner is thinking of majoring in Economics or Mathematics.
Lauren Beccaria, Field Hockey, Gettysburg College
For Beccaria, the recruiting process was “extremely worth it,” despite the stress and the length of time it took to make a decision.
“The school spirit and balance of athletics and academics were important,” she wrote. “And the team and the coaching staff were very welcoming to me.”
Beccaria is looking to see playing time right away even through the “incoming class is very strong,” she wrote. She is looking to major in Health Sciences.
Grace Murphy, Field Hockey, Middlebury College
First, she fell in love with the school. Then, she fell in love with the program.
“I fell in love immediately with the school and as I learned more about the program, I knew it was the right fit,” Murphy wrote. “I’m going to be able to play the sport I love, do other activities and get a great education.”
Head coach Katherine DeLorenzo will be entering her 18 th season at Middlebury, posting a 246-58 record, winning NCAA Division III championships in 1998 and 2015.
“Coach has been there for a long time, building the program,” Murphy wrote. “She told me that she plays freshmen often and that she values hard work and dedication.”
Murphy is looking at International Politics & Relations as a major.
Ben Mellor, Cross Country & Track, Colby College
Running with, and against, the best. That’s what helped Mellor decide to attend Colby.
“I know that the NESCAC is one of, if not the, best Division III conferences for both athletics and academics,” Mellor wrote. “The school itself is really nice and I liked the coach.”
Colby’s track team placed 20th at the New England Division III Championships while the Cross Country team finished 15th out of 55 teams at the Division III New England Region Championships.
“The coach said that I would have a guaranteed spot on the team to run,” Mellor wrote. “That’s exciting.
Mellor would like to minor in Statistics with a possible major in Mathematics or Economics.
Katie Chan, Golf, Ithaca College
In golf, nothing speaks more about success than having a positive attitude and Katie Chan has that in spades.
“I know that I am going to be starting right away,” Chan wrote.
Chan helped the Falcons post a 9-2-1 regular season record and captured a third-place finish in the FCIAC (shooting an 84 at the par-73 Fairfield Wheler Black Course) and a sixth-place finish at the State Open, shooting an 86 at Tashua Knolls.
Last season, Ithaca finished second out of eight teams in the Liberty League Championship, was first (out of 10) in the Ithaca Invitational, was second (out of 11) at the Vassar Invitational and was first (out of 11) at the William Smith Invitational.
“There was a really nice atmosphere when I visited,” she wrote. “And once I met the team I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.”
Chan is looking to major in Business Administration, concentrating on Marketing.
Grace Flink, Lacrosse, Holy Cross
It was the academics … and the program that drew Flink to Holy Cross.
“This year Holy Cross made it to the Patriot League tournament and lost to overtime to Lehigh … awesome game.
“I love the academic rigor at Holy Cross. I love (head) coach (Amanda) Belichick, (assistant) coach Jamie (Redding) and (assistant) coach Taylor (Pennell), they have established a great program and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Last season, the Crusaders finished 6-12 overall, 4-5 in the Patriot, losing 16-15 to Lehigh in the tournament game.
“It’s a Division I program and everything I could wish for in a school,” Flink wrote. “I am going to work my hardest to earn playing time.”
Flink is looking to major in Biology, concentrating on pre-med.
Melissa Bucher, Lacrosse, Marist College
Not too far. Not too close. It seems that Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and Marist was the perfect spot for Bucher to continue her athletic career.
“It was the perfect distance, size and offered everything that I wanted in a college,” she wrote. “And the lacrosse program is competitive and strong.”
Last season, the Red Foxes went 10-7, 6-2 in the Division I MAAC conference, losing to Canisius in the MAAC championship.
“They have been competitive within the league and are looking to get back and win the championship,” Bucher wrote.
Ludlowe went 11-5 this spring (5-5 in the FCIAC). The Falcons lost to New Canaan 12-5 in the FCIAC quarterfinals and 15-8 to Darien in the Class L tournament.
Bucher would like to major in Fashion Merchandising.
Natalie Kelchner, Soccer, Marist College
With two returning goalies on the Red Foxes roster, Kelchner understands that she has her work cut out for her.
“Playing time will be difficult,” she wrote. “But it’s definitely something I can get with a lot of hard work, which I’m willing to put in.”
Marist went 8-8-3 last season, 5-3-2 in the MAAC.
Marist hired Leigh Howard as head coach for the 2018 season, along with new assistants Christina Cobb and Eric Bracy.
“These three new coaches seem to have had a huge impact on the program,” Kelchner wrote. “The team seems to be closer and playing with a high intensity, which I’m excited about.”
Last season, Ludlowe finished with a 6-4-6 record, beating Conard 1-0 in the opening round of the Class LL tournament and losing 1-0 to Staples in the second round.
Kelchner is undecided on a major.
Keegan Simonsen, Cross Country & Track, Temple University
A knee injury that took away half of her junior season, made the recruiting process that much more difficult as Simonsen worked to get back into running shape and showcase her potential to potential schools.
“Recruiting was long and stressful,” Simonsen wrote. “That knee injury made a lot of things complicated.”
But after finishing 14th in the Class LL cross country meet (20:29), fifth in the indoor track 1,600 meters (5:23.80) and 13th in the outdoor track 1,600 meters (5:34.07), it was Temple that won the recruiting war.
“The team environment and the coaching staff are amazing,” Simonsen wrote. “Temple track is an up and coming program that has continued to build on its success in recent years.”
Indeed. This season, the Owls were third out of 25 teams at the ECAC Cross Country championships and third out of 12 teams at the American Athletic Conference championships. Temple placed 11th at the AAC outdoor track championships.
Simonsen is looking to major in Political Science/Legal Studies on a pre-law track. “The school also has an honors program that I am interested in,” she wrote.
Ian Bartlett, U.S. Naval Academy, Track & Field
To say that the recruiting process was difficult for Bartlett would be an understatement.
“I recommitted several times,” he wrote. “It was long and stressful. But overall, it was very rewarding and I am happy with my decision.”
Navy just won the IC4A Outdoor champions, besting 42 teams at the meet in Princeton, N.J., on May 13 and also won the Patriot League crown, beating eight teams in Easton, Pa. on May 5. The Midshipmen also won the Patriot League indoor championship.
Bartlett looked at the program’s long, and successful, history and the hiring of new coach Jamie Cook as key factors in his decision.
Barlett would like to major in Mechanical Engineering.
For Ludlowe this season, Bartlett placed third in the outdoor track 800 meters at the State Open (1:52.98) and placed third in the Class LL 1,000 meters indoor track event (2:32.93).
Mike Randazzo, Baseball, Bryant University
Despite opening the season with series’ against Arizona and Auburn, Bryant still posted a 3-23-1 record and reached the semifinals of the Northeast Conference tournament. And in 2016, the Bulldogs went 47-12, won the NEC tournament and competed in the NCAA tournament.
Of course, Randazzo wanted to be a part of that.
“They have one of the best Division I programs in the Northeast these past few years,” Randazzo wrote. “In 2016, they were ranked as high as 14th in the nation.”
Randazzo helped Ludlowe finish with a 10-10 regular season record, going 8-8 in the FCIAC and capturing the No. 8 in the tournament. The Falcons stunned top-seeded Ridgefield 18-3 before falling to Darien in the semifinals 2-0. In the Class LL tournament, Ludlowe to Amity 2-1.
Randazzo is looking at majoring in Finance.
Rob Farruggio, Baseball & Football, Sacred Heart University
Two sports? You better believe it.
“I will be on special teams (football) as a freshman and then move to wide receiver and with baseball, it’s the same deal,” he wrote. “It was great they offered me the chance to play both sports.”
Farruggio - 6-foot-2, 205 pounds was a receiver/outside linebacker for the Falcons last season and was the team’s shortstop and third baseman.
This season the Sacred Heart baseball team finished with a 17-35 record (12-16 in the Northeast Conference) while football ended at 4-7.
“I know they (baseball) always compete well in the NEC and in football, they’ve won of the last six conference championships,” Farruggio wrote.
Farruggio would like to major in Finance.
Frank Lumaj, Basketball, Catholic University
After his senior season, Lumaj went through a long recruiting process. Turns out, he didn’t go anywhere, deciding to take an additional year at a prep school. So, after that, he had to go through the whole process again.
“It lasted a long time,” he wrote.
Overall, there were upwards of 10 schools involved, including Sacred Heart, Pace, Clarkson, Connecticut College but in the end, Lumaj decided on Catholic University in Washington D.C.
The Cardinals finished last season with a 15-11 record, losing in the Landmark Conference semifinals. In 2000-01, Catholic won the Division III national title. Since, 1997-98, Catholic has recorded 20 straight winning seasons, averaging 22 wins a season.
“They are very good at developing players,” Lumaj wrote. “I have a good chance to play if I work hard.”
Lumaj is looking to major in Business and Law.
Ludlowe signees 2
Front Row: Colby Imbrogno (Fairleigh Dickinson football), Grace Murphy (Middlebury field hockey), Lauren Beccaria (Gettysburg field hockey), Grace Flink (Holy Cross lacrosse), Allison Wales (Endicott field hockey)
Middle Row: Jasmine Hamel (Manhattanville volleyball), Kristen Wales (Salve Regina field hockey), Paige Davis (Holy Cross XC & track), Tory Mileti (William Smith sailing)
Back Row: Ben Mellor (Colby XC & track), James Pushner (Navy rowing), Chris Jerrild (Roanoke soccer), Alex Berg (Wheaton (MA) lacrosse)