Gregori celebrated its senior student-athletes with next-level commitments during a signing ceremony in the school library on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Pictured are, back row from left: Axel Lomeli, Benito Marines, Aiden Wong, Mailyla Nelson, Athletic Director Jim Davis, Kylie Cox, Jamin Crenshaw, Ashlyn Rosa, Briseida Garcia Meza. Front, from left: Liliana Vergara, Eva Rodriguez, Alli McBay, Daily Cheek, Cheyenne Juarez, Kalysa Smith.

First farewells: Gregori athletes gather for College Sports Recognition Day

Ron Agostini

MODESTO — Here’s a “speed of life” fact to ponder: Gregori High will graduate its seventh senior class on May 31. Modesto’s youngest high school, like its students, has grown up in a hurry.

The Jaguars will hand out diplomas to 548, and at least 17 of them will compete in intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s been a good four years, and it’s flown by fast,” said Daly Cheek, bound for California Baptist in water polo. “It will be sad leaving.”

Cheek and other student-athletes were honored at the school library Thursday for College Sports Recognition Day. They munched on pizza, chatted with parents and friends and looked forward to exciting days ahead.

There also was some reminiscing, at least as much as teen-agers will allow.

“I was super-shy and reserved (as a freshman). I did not have a lot of confidence in myself,” recalled Maikyla Nelson, who soon will join the softball team at Colorado State. “As the years went by, I worked harder and made more friends.”

Agreeing was softball teammate Kylie Cox, who can’t wait to continue her athletic career at Long Beach State.

“Everyone here was really welcoming and very helpful to me,” she said. “It made it an easier transition.”

The grammar-school to high-school transition is formidable. Cheek remembers no more than 40 fellow grads at Hart Ransom Elementary School. Imagine the shock of walking onto the Gregori campus on the first day of classes.

Alli McBay, who will be active in competitive cheer at Cal Baptist, changed her approach to academics.

“I was less motivated about grades when I was a freshman. I thought that the only way I could get into college was by athletics. As I matured, I focused more on getting my grades in order,” McBay said. “When I straightened that out, the opportunities fell into my lap.”

Benito Marines, a defensive back for the Gregori football team, credits his demanding sport for shaping him. He’s on his way to Pacific University (Ore.).

“I always wanted to be a college football player,” he said. “Football has been one of the biggest parts of my life. It shows how hard work paid off.”

The Gregori student-athletes list, released by athletic director Jim Davis:

— Kylie Cox, softball, Long Beach State

— Daly Cheek, water polo, Cal Baptist

— Jamin Crenshaw, basketball, Modesto Junior College

— Kaleb Hatten, football, Redlands

— Elliot Johnson, football, City College of San Francisco

— Cheyenne Juarez, softball, San Diego Christian

— Corey Kelly, water polo, MJC

— Axel Lomeli, soccer, Stanislaus State

— Briseida Garcia Meza, cross country and track, St. Mary’s

— Benito Marines, football, Pacific University

— Alli McBay, competitive cheer, Cal Baptist

— Maikyla Nelson, softball, Colorado State

— Eva Rodriguez, cross country and track, Notre Dame deNamur

— Ashlyn Rosa, softball, Vanguard

— Liliana Rose Vergara, wrestling, undeclared

— Kalysa Smith, soccer, MJC

— Aiden Wong, swimming, Swarthmore