By Nick Pecoraro
Gold Country Media
ROCKLIN - Nearly 60 student-athletes from Sierra College were recognized virtually last week for their decisions and commitments to continue on to four-year schools.
An eight-minute YouTube video listed members from each of Sierra’s 18 athletic teams and included clips of some athletes expressing their decision to begin their collegiate career as a Wolverine.
Terms such as “culture, amazing coaches and family” were used to describe reasons why these featured athletes chose Sierra College. The opportunity to continue their athletic and educational careers is proof that their decision to become a Wolverine paid off.
Several of the featured Sierra athletes have local roots.
From the Wolverine football team, which went 7-4 and won its second straight Grizzly Bowl in 2019, are Lincoln High grads Chad Bagwell and Gabe Thomas. Bagwell, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound All-NorCal Conference offensive lineman, will head to the University of Idaho. A 6-3, 245-pound linebacker, Thomas will continue his football career at Morehead State in Kentucky.
Also out of Lincoln is Dallas Atchley, who will take a career .383 average and 12 homers with Sierra’s softball team to Azusa Pacific University. Also from Wolverine softball, which was 7-0 in the Big 8 Conference and riding a 10-game win streak before the season was canceled, is Roseville alumna Emily Thompson, who will join the Sacramento State program.
The Sierra women’s basketball team reached the California Community College Athletic Association State Tournament before COVID-19 forced an immediate shutdown. Whitney grad Kailee McCarrick was the top scorer with 22.2 points per game. She’ll continue playing at nearby William Jessup University. Granite Bay grad Skyy Jackson, who averaged 11.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a night, will continue playing at Westcliff University in Irvine.
From the women’s indoor volleyball team, which won its fourth consecutive Big 8 championship last fall, are Valley Christian grad Cloe Gunter and Colfax grad Jacy Dean. Gunter led the team with 77 blocks and will head to William Jessup for both indoor and beach volleyball. Dean, who was second on the team with 271 kills, will head to Fresno Pacific University.
Another Colfax alumna, and perhaps the most consistent runner for Sierra’s track and cross-country teams over the past two seasons, Alyse Sibley will head to UC San Marcos.
Placer grad Gavin Sweeney, who placed eighth at the state wrestling championships at 125 pounds, will move on to Missouri Valley University, while teammate – and Rocklin grad – Hunter Gonzalez heads to Cal Poly. Gonzalez finished third overall at 197 in this season’s state meet.
Woodcreek grad Grace Vargas, who was tied for fourth in the state with 27 goals, will continue her soccer career at Fresno State. Teammate Jordan Higgins, formerly of Whitney High, will play at University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Higgins started 24 games in goal for Sierra and posted seven shutouts.
Folsom grad Melanie Anderson, who finished tied for fifth at the CCCAA State Golf Championships, will head to Chico State.
Although technically not from the area, shortstop Josh Rolling could improve his MLB draft stock as he moves on to UC Berkeley. Rolling was originally drafted out of Bishop Manogue High School in Reno, Nevada, in the 39th round of the 2019 draft by the Atlanta Braves. Before this season was shut down, Rolling was hitting .355 with four homers and team-highs of 23 RBI and three triples.
SIERRA COLLEGE STUDENT-ATHLETES COMMITTED TO FOUR-YEAR SCHOOLS
AJ Parker (Southwestern College)
Blake Friese (Morehead State)
Chad Bagwell (University of Idaho)
Chase Jones (Missouri Western)
Blake Mason (Upper Iowa University)
Eian Moore (Sacramento State)
Gabe Thomas (Morehead State)
Izaiah Jackson (Kansas Wesleyan University)
Josh Farr (University of Texas-El Paso)
Amir Murray (Eastern New Mexico University)
Graylon Lindsey (Western New Mexico University)
Richard Kirbyson (Tusculum University)
Jon Kimball (Tabor College)
Andrew Stover (Chico State)
Kyle Williams (Tusculum University)
Josh Rolling (UC Berkeley)
Chris Cook (undecided)
Chase Thatcher (undecided)
Charles Douglas (undecided)
Amara Allen (undecided)
Kailee McCarrick (William Jessup University)
Skyy Jackson (Westcliff University)
Karn Goraya (undecided)
James McCarry (undecided)
Mike Odom (undecided)
Zach Ngue Nogha (undecided)
Melanie Anderson (Chico State)
Chandler Kelly (Sacramento State)
Kelly Amanna (UC Berkeley)
Isabella Polena (UC Santa Cruz)
Kate Baltzer (University of Nevada-Reno)
Spencer Duffy (University of Wyoming)
Tak Vacanti (Cal Poly)
Nicolas Masson (Chapman University)
Austin Wade (Concordia University)
Joseph Dutra (Chico State)
Cameron Kite (UC San Diego)
Drew Grantham (undecided)
Grady Callahan (undecided)
Reggie Camacho (Navy)
Dylan Pyburn (UC Irvine)
Grace Vargas (Fresno State)
Jordan Higgins (University of Louisiana-Lafayette)
Frances Andrade (Biola University)
Emma Schulz (CSU San Bernardino)
CROSS-COUNTRY/TRACK AND FIELD
Alyse Sibley (UC San Marcos)
Gavin Sweeney (Missouri Valley University)
Hunter Gonzalez (Cal Poly)
Cloe Gunter (William Jessup University)
Jacy Dean (Fresno Pacific University)
Astril Najar-Meza (William Jessup University)
Dallas Atchley (Azusa Pacific University)
Keeli Bryant (Chico State)
Amaryssa Medina (San Diego Christian College)
Emily Thompson (Sacramento State)
Ashley Miller (Simpson University)
Aleyna Camacho (UCLA)
Sarah Poroch (undecided)
Tsukino Watanabe (Holy Names University)