SlwrQGpKQ7uQZwJMNPFknA_thumb_837Saint Viator High School held a rare third national student-athlete signing day Friday, to accommodate the growing number of students who are committing to play their sport at the college level.

Teammates, coaches, parents and classmates made for a standing room only crowd in the Academic Commons for the ceremony. Student-athletes seated at the head table include those pursuing football, lacrosse, soccer, synchronized skating, tennis, volleyball, women’s hockey and Division 1 acrobatics and tumbling, at wide-ranging colleges and universities across the country.

This brings to nearly 30 the number of students who formally signed national collegiate letters of intent this year.

“The breadth and reach of the schools our students are going to continues to expand,” said Mr. Brian Liedlich, president. “Our students are high achieving and rise to the occasion. I know they will make a profound impact on all of the communities they are going to.”

College-bound student-athletes included:

  • Bella Pierce – Quinnipiac University (Acrobatics & Tumbling)
  • Hunter Loprino – Belmont Abbey (Lacrosse)
  • Niko Weder – Augustana College (Football)
  • Kevin Murphy – Illinois Wesleyan University (Football)
  • Kaylee Liberty – Endicott College (Women’s Hockey)
  • Payton McDonnell – Loras College (Soccer)
  • Pearl Mueller – Loras College (Lacrosse)
  • Emma Zajac – Ohio Wesleyan University (Tennis)
  • Carrie Leazer – Seton Hall University (Volleyball)
  • Jessica Johnson – Adrian College (Synchronized Skating)
  • Will Hartman – DePauw University (Soccer)

Carrie Leazer was the starting libero for the volleyball team’s first state appearance in 2017, in which they ultimately placed fourth, and she moved to outside hitter this year. Leazer now takes her game to the Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA.

Hunter Loprino will bring his game as an attacker to Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC, where its Crusaders were 14-3 overall last year.

“Hunter is the epitome of not only a leader but a Lions’ Lacrosse member,” says Coach Pat Gaeger ’08. “I have never seen a young man capture the attention of his peers like Hunter does.”

Jessica Johnson holds the distinction of being the first Saint Viator athlete to sign a letter of intent to compete in synchronized skating in college. Jessica skates with the Chicago Jazz Synchronized Skating Team, based in Rolling Meadows, and has competed multiple times at international competitions.

She now heads to Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, whose squad medaled in every competition it entered this year, including earning the pewter medal at the 2019 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.

“Adrian’s program is very competitive,” Jessica said. “It’s a good fit.”

Payton McDonnell brings her soccer skills to Loras College in Dubuque, where her older brother, Miles, also plays soccer.

“With him there, it felt like home when I visited,” Payton said. “They’ve got a very competitive program. They won their conference last year and did well in the NCAA tournament. I hope I can help them make a deeper run next year.”

Her classmate, Pearl Mueller, will be heading to Loras as well, to play lacrosse for the Duhawks.

“I liked the community at Loras,” Pearl said. “Everyone there was very welcoming.”

Athletic Director Jason Kuffel thanked all of the parents, coaches and teammates for their support over the years. He went on to commend the student-athletes for all of their hard work and bringing their passion to the game,

“We will watch for you and root for you as you take your game to the college level,” Kuffel said. “It truly is a great day to be a Lion.”