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Long Beach Poly Signing Day

Long Beach Poly Celebrates Nearly 40 Scholarship Athletes With Signing Day

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management. 

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.

Long Beach Poly has had plenty to celebrate over the years. The school has won 128 CIF-SS titles and 37 state titles, more than any other school in California. The Jackrabbits have also produced more NFL, NBA, and MLB alums combined than any other school in the country. 

But if you ask the school’s longtime athletic directors, Rob Shock and Crystal Irving, what their favorite memory is each year? It’s Poly’s Signing Day ceremony, where every year dozens of student-athletes are recognized for signing collegiate scholarships to continue their athletic careers.

This year, Poly celebrated nearly 40 student-athletes with their customary big production in the Osman Auditorium.

“This is always a special day at Long Beach Poly, because we’re recognizing these student-athletes who’ve worked so hard, and who have earned the right to compete at the next level,” said Shock, who MCed the event as usual. “We’re so proud of them.”

The ceremony opened with a recognition for Nico Song and Camille Lindsay, named Poly’s scholar-athletes of the year, both receiving scholarship money to attend UC San Diego. Shock then introduced each one of the signees, who had a chance to walk across the stage and take a picture as their name and photo was displayed on the big screen.

Once all of the athletes had been named and seated, Shock asked them to stand and applaud their parents, thanking them for all the sacrifices they’d made. Shock also reminded them of the importance of getting their degrees.

“Athletics is temporary, that degree is forever,” he said. “Come back and show us that degree. And talk to the next generation and tell them your story of what it took to get it done.”

Most of the signees had already committed to their schools, but senior track standout Lamarr Kirk Jr. announced on stage that he’s signing with Cal after fielding offers from several schools following a strong cross country and track season.

“I’m really excited, I had no nerves or anything talking to the coach the energy was good,” he said. “On the visit I loved how the team worked together.”

Kirk said that he was excited to be signing to the same school as his track teammate Javon Hampton. 

“We got really close this year and knowing that I’ll have him out there with me definitely helped me make the decision,” he said.

He also noted that getting more scholarship looks was a part of his decision to transfer to Poly for his senior season.

“It’s a little scary coming into your senior season without any college coaches looking at you,” he said. “I knew coming to Poly and having that name recognition I’d automatically be on the radar. It felt like everything changed overnight with college coaches reaching out.”

There was a large contingent of football signees, including Pac-12 talent like Daylen Austin (Oregon) and Dom Lolesio (Arizona), as well as All-American Tyson Ruffins, headed to Nevada. But the Jackrabbits had 10 total signees including a trio to Minot State, with Ike Mikaele, Phoenix Tusa, and Ropati Eneliko all headed to North Dakota.

“It was really important that we were all going together,” said Mikaele. “I knew going out of state to a school by myself would be harder, going with my two other guys I feel very comfortable with it.”

There was also several historic athletes graduating like those who competed with Poly’s aquatic program, led by Michigan signee Colin Geer. He and his teammates won Poly’s first Moore League swim title and snapped a 49-year long streak for Wilson. Reece Hammond was on that team and also Poly’s historic CIF-SS water polo title team last year; he signed with Santa Clara after a lengthy recruiting process.

“It was really two years of talking,” he said. “I’m proud of our water polo program because we’re starting a new streak. Charlie Pruett signed last year and now there’s me and there’ll probably be somebody next year. It’s nice to kind of push water polo up the list.”

Lindsay was honored twice, for being the school’s scholar-athlete and also for signing with UCSD for cross country and track.

“I loved the team atmosphere at Berkeley and at San Diego and to me it came down to a lot of things about the fit including financially,” she said. “I like being close to home, the team was amazing, and we’re getting a lot of new recruits that I’ve run with and know.”

Other athletes had a very easy time deciding where to, including soccer goalie Kennedy Justin, who signed with Hawaii.

“Well, it’s Hawaii,” she said with a laugh. “It’s 2,000 miles away but I feel very comfortable going there. Our football team has shirts that say ‘ohana’ and everything at Poly is very family oriented–it’s the same thing in Hawaii.”

Justin was one of several athletes who recalled being in the crowd for Poly’s signing day in the past, dreaming of being on stage.

“It’s kind of surreal, we pack the house every year and we always have the most signees,” she said. “I’ve been watching my teammates going on and playing every year and we’re out there trying to make sure soccer is cheering the loudest. Now it’s my day and I’m just so proud I could show up for my family and for Poly. I haven’t really processed this yet, it’s a dream come true honestly.”

There were also athletes like Nathan Vargas who just recently committed to Long Beach State for rugby, which is on its way to becoming an official high school sport. Vargas was the team captain of the Belmont Shore U18 team that just won a national title.

“Some of our coaches are Long Beach State guys and they were pushing me to it, I’m just excited to go compete at the next level,” he said.

Many of the signees made comments about how fun it was to have a big celebration of other elite athletes to cap their high school careers.

“It’s four years of school spirit, there’s so much love here, everyone loves being at Poly and rooting for Poly, that’s obvious,” said Lindsay. “I’m going to miss that. It’s so tight knit here, and you’re running off campus wearing a Poly shirt and someone on a park bench wants to tell you that he went to Poly back in 78. Everything here is so connected and I’m going to miss that so much.”

Poly’s current 2023 scholarship signing class (with a few others considering offers): Reece Hammond, water polo, Santa Clara; Ariel Cordova, water polo, U of Pacific; Cameron Rhone, XC/Track, Long Beach State; Alexa Bryson, XC/Track, UCSB; Camille Lindsay, XC/Track, UCSD; Nicholas Case, Track, Oregon; Cece Hallock, soccer, San Francisco State; Cynthia Ramirez, soccer, CSU Dominguez Hills; Kennedy Justin, soccer, Hawaii; Erik Fourzon, swim, Claremont McKenna; Colin Geer, swim, Michigan; Camila Montes, soccer, WestCliff; Lucas Scott, baseball, UC Irvine; Lamarr Kirk Jr., Track, Cal; Javon Hampton, Track, Cal; Amani Thomas, basketball, CSUN; Denise Herrera Cruz, rugby, American International; Jendell Moe, rugby, American International; Kiara Van Deusen, soccer, Portland State; Tim Moore, football, Benedictine College; Nyla Springer, softball, Pomona College; Ariyona Smith, track, Southern University A&M; Sakarah Buckner, softball, Azusa Pacific; Kyla Gomez, soccer, Jackson State; Kennadi Reed, track, Georgia Southern; Tyson Ruffins, football, Nevada; Chase Stewart, football, Black Hill State; Bronson Larkin, football, Graceland U; Raiden Brown, football, Idaho State; Ikenasio Mikaele, football, Minot State; Ropati Eneliko, football, Minot State; Phoenix Tusa, football, Minot State; Dominic Lolesio, football, Arizona; Daylen Austin, football, Oregon; Nathan Vargas, rugby, Long Beach State.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly Signing Day 2023
Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.