Three Lahser High School seniors joined student athletes from across the country Wednesday in formally signing their letters of intent to compete at respective colleges, universities, and service academies next fall.
David Attenson, football, Northwood University; Andrew Gikas, football, United States Air Force Academy; and Elena Miller, cross country, Northwestern, each took a pause from their traditional Wednesday routine for a ceremony at the high school entrance. Dozens of students, parents and coaches surrounded the trio at a table taking pictures and videos of the life-changing moment.
"It's still sinking in, and it's surreal that this is happening to me, but I'm very excited," said Miller, beaming with pride to wear Northwestern colors after the ceremony. "I knew when I visited Northwestern that it's where I wanted to be."
The senior captain closes her Lahser career with a number of accolades, including All-League, All-County, All-Region and All-State honors in both Cross Country and Track, and she is also an Academic All State winner. And the multi-sport star (Skiing, Lacrosse) only competed in the program in her junior and senior years.
"Elena is relatively new to the sport of running (second year runner), yet she leaves the program as one of the best to ever graduate from Lahser," Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Nick Stration said. "She continues to grow as a person, by always taking the initiative to take on new and bigger responsibilities. There is no doubt that she has a brilliant future ahead of her."
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Head Football Coach Dan Loria shared similar sentiments about both Attenson and Gikas, who made strides through hard work and commitment.
"It was their commitment, without a doubt," Loria said after posing for photos. "Each of them said it was a goal of theirs to play college football at the next level, and they put everything they had into it, understanding the percentages. And they did it."
Gikas, who verbally committed to Air Force several weeks ago, said the recruiting process was challenging, but interesting, and that he's excited to represent the school and his country at the same time.
"This is a great feeling and it's fun to share it with everyone here," he said after issuing a series of hugs and high-fives from fellow students. The two-sport star (basketball) maintained his composure and focus on the changing tasks and expectations that lie ahead. "It's really an honor to be able to go to Air Force and I'm thankful for this opportunity."
Though blessed with size and athleticism, both linemen showed the necessary drive and attitude to stay focused and excel, he said.
"They both exceeded expectations," Loria said. "They showed their strength, their character and their ability to get the grades to get where they wanted to."
"Coach Loria has gone above and beyond for me in the past year to make my senior season all that it was, and to help me make my dream of playing football in college come true," he said.
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