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Lakewood Hosts Signing Celebration For All Sports

The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored byJ.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

As has become the tradition recently, Lakewood hosted a signing ceremony on Tuesday for 24 Lancers who will continue their academic and athletic careers at the collegiate level.

“It’s just an amazing thing to see so many of our athletes becoming college athletes,” Lakewood coach Michelle Kaeka said. “I hope it continues to grow and hopefully the younger athletes in the stands see what’s happening and look up to those kids and strive to become one of them someday. (These seniors are) hard workers, leaders and teammates to take others under their wings.”

Lakewood volleyball players Cortni Youngblood, who is going to UC Santa Barbara, and Samarah DaCoud, who is going to University of New Mexico, agreed that the recruiting process was motivating for them and their teammates Fatima Hall (San Diego State) and Andrea Briseno (Cypress College).

“You’re on the same court with (girls getting recruited) so it personalizes it,” Youngblood said. “If they can do it then why can’t I do the same thing? It just pushes us even harder and kind of makes everyone around you better. Getting to experience it together makes it all the more special.”

That volleyball quartet only lost two Moore League games as Varsity players, and only lost one league set as upperclassman.

“It was pretty impressive,” Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said of his seniors. “They bought into the system their freshman year and they stayed the course. They’ve been able to use (lessons) from the seniors ahead of them and now pass it down to the lower level kids behind them.”

DaCoud said during the recruiting process she wanted to stay close to home, be a part of a diverse volleyball program and pursue a major in psychology. She found that in New Mexico, while Youngblood said she fell in love with UCSB immediately.

“UC Santa Barbara is a special place and I felt it when I did my visit,” Youngblood said. “It’s so beautiful up there, you couldn’t ask to be at a better spot. It’s also a great academic school, and the coaches were really welcoming. I know I can meet a lot of new people, gain a lot of new experiences and get a degree.”

The event was held in the Lakewood gym in front of a big crowd that filled one side of the stands. The senior athletes sat at a long table on the court while each Lakewood coach took the mic to introduce each player and tell some good stories.

“I think what makes Montrell special is that he makes his teammates around him better,” said Lakewood football coach Justin Utupo of Montrell Mingo, who is going to Lincoln University. “Not just on the field but also in the locker room, on campus and in the neighborhood. If he continues to be who he is I think he is going to change a lot of lives in the future.”

Softball coach Andy Miramontes got the unique experience of introducing his daughter Julia Miramontes, who will be attending University of La Verne.

“It was bitter sweet, to be honest,” coach Miramontes said. “She is a great kid, and a great daughter, so I’m sad to see her go.”

“There’s a line between being my coach and being my dad and I think he does it pretty well,” said Julia, who is very excited about her choice of school. “I really love the coach, the facility is amazing, and my main focus is school before softball and I can really do that at La Verne. I was thinking about (studying) nursing but now I’m also thinking about occupational therapy.”

Girls’ Volleyball

Cortni Youngblood – UC Santa Barbara

Samarah DaCoud – University of New Mexico

Fatima Hall – San Diego State

Andrea Briseno – Cypress College


Laci Berecochea – Paris College, Texas

Julia Miramontes – University of La Verne

Belle Casanova – Cerritos College

Madeleine Mendoza – Cal State Monterey Bay


Brayden Downen – Colorado State Pueblo

Montrell Mingo – Lincoln University

Boys’ Basketball

Macarhy Morris – Lewis and Clark University, Idaho

Chris Willis – Ellsworth College, Iowa

Mason Pacheco – Glendale Community College

Alex Obi – Cerritos College

Boys’ Lacrosse

Troy Johansson – Humboldt State

Boys’ Soccer

Halmar Carranza – Cerritos College

Jonathan Alverez – Cerritos College

Boys’ Track & Cross Country

Carmello Porter – Cerritos College


Adrian Arellano – LBCC

Austin McDaniel – LBCC

Girls’ Swimming

Lauren Baker – LBCC

Boys’ Swimming

Arion Ellis – LBCC

Girls’ Water Polo

Brooke Baze – Orange Coast College

Girls’ Track

Patience Turner – Compton College

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.