Local athletes make college plans official

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 08:34
  • From left, Eagle River High School seniors Christian Frederick, Alina Cook and Grant Burningham appeared at a National Letter of Intent signing ceremony on Monday, April 30, 2018 at Eagle River High School. Frederick plans to play baseball at Finlandia College in Hancock, Michigan; Cook will play softball at Concordia University in Steward, Nebraska; and Burningham will wrestle at Colorado State University-Pueblo in Pueblo, Colorado. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Chugiak senior Liam Baez-Terry races in the boys’ 1,600 meter run during the Service quad meet on Friday, April 27, 2018. Baez-Terry recently signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country at Montana State University-Northern, an NAIA program in Havre, Montana. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

A handful of area athletes have finalized their plans for the fall.

National Letter of Intent signings were held at Chugiak and Eagle River High Schools recently, with representatives from a cross-section of local sports.

At Chugiak High, senior Liam Baez-Terry was the guest of honor at a ceremony April 26 in the CHS library. Baez-Terry will run cross-country at Montana State University-Northern, an NAIA school in Havre, Montana.

Originally from Bethel, Baez-Terry said the small-town feel of the campus drew him in.

“It reminded me of my hometown,” he said.

The long-distance specialist said he had a good visit to the school, where he plans to study either criminal justice or graphic design.

“The team really seemed to like me and I really liked them,” he said.

Across the river at Eagle River High, a trio of athletes signed their letters at a ceremony April 30 in the school’s library.

With a large crowd of family, teammates and friends on hand for the lunchtime signing, Wolves seniors Grant Burningham, Alina Cook and Christian Frederick posed for photos and shared a sheet cake during the gala ceremony.

Burningham will wrestle at Division II Colorado State University-Pueblo, Frederick will play baseball at Finlandia University (Hancock, Michigan) and Cook will play softball at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.

A hard-nosed captain of the Eagle River baseball team, Frederick is a pitcher and infielder who coach Harley Bodine said “epitomizes what we’re looking for from an Eagle River player.”

“The fires of competition don’t burn any brighter than they do in Christian,” Bodine said.

Frederick said he plans to study physical therapy. Although he’s not sure if he’ll pitch of play another position, Frederick said he’s excited to continue his baseball career at the NAIA school.

“Wherever they put me I’ll play,” he said.

Burningham expressed a similar wait-and-see approach to his future wrestling career in Colorado. He said he’s bulked up considerably from the high school wrestling season, when he placed fourth in the Division I state tournament at 145 pounds.

“I’ll figure it out when I get there,” he said.

Burningham said he’s “very excited” to join a CSU-Pueblo that has ranked among the top programs in Division II in recent years.

“I feel this will be really good for me,” said Burningham, who wants to study to become an athletic trainer.

ERHS wrestling coach Chris Ruggles said he thinks the wrestler known as “Bam Bam” has the right attitude to succeed at the college level.

“It’s just a great sign of his hard work paying off,” he said.

Cook has been a key cog for coach Charley Peyton’s

ERHS softball team since arriving at the school as a sophomore, serving as team captain the past two seasons. She’s been a star pitcher, hitter and infielder for the Wolves, and Peyton said Cook’s rise to the college ranks is well-deserved.

“We’re very proud of her,” he said.

Cook wants to study elementary education with a focus on music. She’d like to work teaching students who, like her, have traveled the country as part of military families.

“I’ve had such a good experience,” as the daughter of an Army father, she said. “I’ve been military my whole life and I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else.”

Having lived in Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska and now Alaska, Cook said she’s looking forward to returning to a bit warmer climate at the NAIA school.

“It’ll be nice to have four seasons,” she said.

Cook said she’s enjoyed her time at ERHS, where she said she was immediately welcomed into the softball program.

“I’ve made much better friendships here than I ever thought I would,” she said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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