SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Seven Union Catholic student athletes gathered with family, friends, coaches and school administrators to sign their National Letters of Intent during a special ceremony in the school gymnasium on Thursday morning.
- Baseball star Jaden McReynolds signed with Dominican College,
- Volleyball standout Gabriella Hernandez signed with Caldwell University,
- Track and field athlete Conor Reilly signed wtih Lehigh,
- Track and field athlete Ashleigh Patterson signed with UNC Asheville
- Track and field athlete Zamira Ysaac signed with St. John's
- Track and field athlete Felicia Quainoo signed with UConn, and
- Track and field athlete Chidumga Nkulume signed with Temple.
Jaden McReynolds, the most feared bat in the UC lineup last spring, has been a clutch run-producer for the Vikings during his outstanding career. After batting .414 as a sophomore, McReynolds, who has a very quick and powerful swing, feasted on opposing pitchers with .418 batting average last season and drove home a team high 23 runs, scored 11 runs, and stole eight bases. In the 19 games he started last spring, McReynolds got at least one hit all but one game, the outfielder finished the season with five multi-hit games, and knocked in two or more runs in six games.
Gabriella Hernandez has been a very reliable and strong three-rotation player for the Vikings during her volleyball career, and was an important piece to the great success of the UC volleyball team this past fall. Hernandez contributed 20 kills, 23 digs, and seven blocks during the season, and in a victory over Oak Knoll she showed her versatility by registering 11 service points and two aces. Hernandez's all-round play helped the Vikings finish the season with a 30-2 record, a final ranking of No. 2 in the state, which is the best in school history, and she helped the Vikings capture the Union County, Union County Conference, and State Sectional titles, and earn a berth in the State Non-Public Championship for the second straight year.
Conor Reilly, one of the best field event athletes in Union Catholic history, holds all four indoor school class records in the pole vault, and broke the overall school indoor record when he made 15-6 at the Lavino Relays last month, which is the third best vault in the state this season. Outdoors, Reilly holds the school freshman record, the sophomore record, and this spring he will be chasing the school outdoor record of 16-0. Last spring, Reilly won the pole vault at the Union County Championships, won his second straight Non-Public A State title, captured his third straight sectional title, and was fourth at the Meet of Champions. Indoors, Reilly will be aiming for his third straight pole vault title later this month, and this past Monday, he cleared 14-6 to add the Union County indoor pole vault title to his impressive resume.
Chidumga Nkulume has blended a strong work ethic with natural speed to become of the state's best sprinters, and she's been a catalyst for Union Catholic's powerhouse track and field team by earning All-American honors on five different relay teams. At the New Balance National Indoor Championships last March, Nkulume ran the 400 on Union Catholic's winning sprint medley relay that ran the second fastest time in state history, ran the 400 on the distance medley that reached the podium and broke the Union County record, and she ran on the 4x400 that placed fifth. Then last spring, Nkulume was a member of the 4x100 team that won the Meet of Champions title with a Union County record time, and she earned All-American honors in both the 4x200 and 4x400 relays at New Balance Nationals. This past Monday, Nkulume won the first individual county title of her career by capturing the 400 to help lead the Vikings to its seventh straight county crown, and she currently has the third fastest time in the state in the 400, and the ninth fastest time in the state in the 200.
Ashleigh Paterson, a rock steady runner on Union Cathoic's 4x800 relay teams over her career, has been a huge key to the success of the Vikings on the state level and on the national stage. The bigger the race, the better Patterson always performs, rising to the occasion whenever she toes the line. Patterson showed her big meet poise when she earned All-American honors by running a strong leg on the 4x800 relay that finished first at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals last spring and broke the Union County record and recorded the eighth fastest time in state history. Patterson was also on the 4x800 at the Penn Relays last April that placed second overall and first among American teams.
Zamira Ysaac has been one of the most dominant hurdlers in the state over the course of her outstanding career, and has shown great range by running several big 400 and 800 relay legs for the Vikings. Individually during her years as a Viking, Ysaac has captured three straight titles in the 400 hurdles at both the Union County and Union County Conference Championships, and won a conference title in the 800. Last June, Ysaac earned All-American honors when she ran a leg on Union Catholic's shuttle hurdle squad that placed second with the second fastest time in state history at the New Balance National Championships.
Felicia Quainoo, a great all-round star on the track and in the field for the Vikings, has racked up several major titles during her career. She has captured county titles indoors and outdoors in the high hurdles, and in the field, she won the triple jump at both the county and conference championships last spring, and she has also established herself as one of the top long jumpers in the county. On the relays, Quainoo earned All-American status when she ran on the runner-up shuttle hurdles that ran the second fastest time in state history at the New Balance Nationals last June, and she was a member of the 4x100 that won the Meet of Champions title last spring with the fastest time in Union County history.
Union Catholic (1600 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains) prepares a diverse student body to fulfill their college and career goals by cultivating the students' achievement of academic standards of excellence within a value-centered environment, strong in its commitment to our core values (respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion, and community), and to the establishment of a community of faith and love in the Catholic tradition. For more information, call (908) 889-1600 or visit www.unioncatholic.org.