Plum athletes ready to take next step in athletic careers

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Saturday, November 14, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Each year, when the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent early-signing period for Division I and II athletes begins, Plum finds itself at the forefront with several signees.

This year is no exception as numerous athletes finalized their decisions last week. Included in that were three who signed with Division I schools: Makayla Jackson (women’s volleyball, Pitt), Emily Kirkpatrick (women’s soccer, Towson University) and Kennedie Montue (women’s basketball, Oakland University).

“I am just glad this day is here and I can get everything finalized,” said Jackson, who gave a verbal commitment to Pitt just over a year ago.

“I am ready to move on to the next step. It’s super exciting.”

Jackson, who helped lead the Mustangs this fall to their first section championship since 2011 and the 16th in the history of the program, said it felt like forever from last November’s initial decision to when she was able to put pen to paper last Wednesday.

Plum (16-1) capped its season with a loss to Montour in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals.

“Now that we’re here and signed and ready to go, we can realize that all the hard work has paid off,” Jackson said.

For all Division I and II sports except Division I basketball and Division I and II football, athletes now are able to sign any day through Aug. 1.

The early signing period for Division I basketball also began last Wednesday, but it ends this week. A regular signing period runs from April 14 to May 19.

Football commits take center stage with an early signing period from Dec. 16-19 with the traditional regular period starting Feb.3.

Kirkpatrick decided not to play soccer for Plum this fall, opting to concentrate on training six days a week with her Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy team, she said.

“It was a very hard decision, but I felt it was the best for me,” she said.

Kirkpatrick hopes that training will build to successful results as she continues at Towson.

“(Wednesday) was very relieving, because I had been holding on to (the verbal commitment) for a long time and had continued to work toward it,” said Kirkpatrick, who also gave her verbal a year ago. “I am very proud of myself for accomplishing this.”

Before Montue can focus on her freshman season at Oakland, she has a few goals to complete with the girls basketball team.

That includes helping bring home a section title after the team came within seconds of doing so last year. Montue, who surpassed 1,000 points last season, also is closing in on the Plum girls basketball career scoring record held by Krista Pietropola.

Mustangs swimming standout Charlotte Jones, who gave a verbal commitment to Division I Long Island University-Brooklyn last month, said she hopes to sign her letter of intent sometime over the next couple of weeks.

Plum athletes inking Division II scholarships over the first couple days of the signing period were Jamie Seneca (women’s soccer, Gannon), Matt Frazetta (baseball, Seton Hill), AJ Koma (men’s soccer, Seton Hill), Maggie Anderson (women’s lacrosse, Edinboro) and Carly O’Connell (women’s soccer, Edinboro).

For Koma, and many other Plum athletes, the excitement for the future is weighed against some sadness that their high school career has or will soon come to a close.

“It really hit me hard after the South Fayette game (2-1, overtime in WPIAL first round) that I wasn’t going to play high school soccer anymore,” said Koma, a four-year letterman, team captain and a Section 4-3A Finest 15 selection this year for the Mustangs boys soccer team.

“But I am very much looking forward to the next four years at Seton Hill. My first visit to the campus really did it for me.”

Sharing the signing-day experience with classmates was special, said Seneca, an All-WPIAL performer in 2020 for a Plum girls soccer team which finished 16-1 and made the WPIAL Class 3A finals for the second straight year.

“It feels great that everything is falling into place,” she said. “We’re all ready to take that next step.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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