Wilson High’s Class of 2019 gathered in the gym on Monday to celebrate its 19 student-athletes who are going on to play their sport at the next level. The group of Bruins from 10 different sports represented teams on campus, and extracurricular endeavors.
“We have students in a variety of sports who didn’t know where they were going until recently,” Wilson athletic director Jeff Evans said. “We realize the NCAA has special signing days, but not all of our kids are going to go play sports in Division I. We’ve also got Division II, Division III and junior college kids and they’re all worth celebrating.”
The most noteworthy teams on hand were girls’ water polo and boys’ soccer. The water polo program won its first CIF Southern Section championship last year, and the soccer program won its first league title since 2007.
“I really like how this feels right now because it goes to show who are the more committed players,” Wilson goalkeeper Norman Chang said. “You don’t have to start on your high school team to make it to the next level. You just have to put in the work.”
Chang has a unique plan in place to attend both Long Beach State and Golden West next year. He will take his general education classes at LBSU, but since they don’t have a men’s soccer program, he’ll use the first two years of eligibility at Golden West with eyes on transferring to a four-year university.
Brooke Gruneisen (UCLA), Carolina Newton (LMU) and Daniella Spina (CSU Monterey Bay) are all going to California universities after helping Wilson win its first girls’ water polo championship.
“It makes my emotions hard to control,” Gruneisen said of celebrating their accomplishments together. “I’m so incredibly proud of my teammates, and coaches, and the entire city of Long Beach for supporting all of us. I know I couldn’t have done any of this without a single one of my teammates or coaches. It’s absolutely amazing to come off of this and go to my dream school.”
Gruneisen ended up getting offers to play at elite water polo programs around the country, but she knew she wanted to stay a Bruin.
“Since my first day of freshman year I was going to make it to UCLA,” Gruneisen said. “I remember it was Labor Day at the start of my junior year, and I was thinking I needed to text the coaches… The next morning I woke up to an email from the UCLA coach saying ‘we want to talk to you’ so it was really magical. It didn’t really hit me until the UCLA players were texting me ‘congratulations, welcome to the team’ the next day.”
Norman Chang — Golden West
Mauro Rafael — CSU San Marcos
Oscar Guzman — Lesley University
Gustavo Cervantes — LBCC
Brooke Gruneisen — UCLA
Carolina Newton — Loyola Marymount
Daniella Spina — CSU Monterey Bay
Bella Nguyen — New Mexico State
Kayla Taitt — UC Riverside
Christian Van Dyke — Connecticut College
Roxanne Snyder — College of Charleston
Andrew Mathison — University of Washington
Track & Field / Cross Country
Jesus Nichol — CSU Los Angeles
Armando Bryson — Undecided
Hunter Richmond — Cypress College
Saida Wiltz — St. Edwards’s University
Gracie Jimenez — Cerritos College
Michelle Dominguez — Cerritos College
Ayah Tharwat — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute