SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Four 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 gymnasium on Friday morning.
Volleyball star Alexandra Kwasnik signed her NLI with the University of Cincinnati, track and field standout Elijah Brown signed with George Mason, baseball player Michael Fox signed with Scranton and baseball player Jaren Mateo signed with Norwich.
One of the best volleyball players in the state and in school history, Kwasnik's greatest strengths are her court awareness, exceptional leaping ability, and her powerful hitting.
A towering presence at 6-3, Kwasnik was virtually unstoppable at the net as she helped continue the tradition of excellence for the Vikings program this past season. Kwasnik registered 290 kills this season, the 12th most in the state and nearly 100 more than her total of 193 last year. She also had 84 blocks, the seventh most in the state, and came up with 43 aces.
Kwasnik's strong season earned her a spot on the overall All-State First Team and Non-Public First Team, and she was named an Under Armour Honorable Mention All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association
Kwasnik was a big reason why Union Catholic finished the season with a 30-2 record, a final ranking of No. 2 in the state, which is the best in school history, and her play helped the Vikings capture the Union County, Union County Conference, and State Sectional titles, and earn a berth in the State Non-Public Championship match for the second straight year.
Brown, combining a rare and unique blend of sprint speed and stamina, displayed great range during a sensational career that was highlighted last year when he become a state champion.
Brown, who had already established himself as one of the state's best quarter milers, focused more of his training on the half mile last year and the results were staggering as he helped the Vikings maintain its place as one of the top track and field programs in New Jersey.
Last winter, Brown captured the 400 and 800 at both the Union County Championships and at the State Non-Public A Championships, won the 800 at the State Meet of Champions in the 800 in 1:53.98, and placed 10th in the 800 at the New Balance Nationals Championships in New York.
Last spring, Brown won the 800 at the Union County Championships and at the State Non-Public A South Championships, was second in the 400 and third in the 800 at the State Non-Public A Championships, was third in the 800 at the Meet of Champions, ran his personal best in the 800 of 1:53.94 when he was sixth at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California, and he finished his season by placing 10th in the 800 in the Emerging Elite Division at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina.
With Brown serving one of the key catalysts for Union Catholic, the Vikings have numerous Union County Relays and Union County Track and Field Championships both indoors and outdoors during his remarkable career.
Fox, whether he was on the mound or at the plate, always found ways to make an impact on games for the Union Catholic baseball team.
Combining a great fastball and knee-buckling breaking ball, Fox had several strong outings for the Vikings last spring, highlighted by a complete-game, 5-hit shutout with four strikeouts in a big victory over Colonia.
Fox also pitched a strong game vs. Cranford, one of the top teams in the state, when he allowed just one earned run in six innings with three strikeouts.
Offensively, Fox scored 10 runs, delivered several clutch hits and stole seven bases.
In UC's Union County Tournament victory over Dayton, Fox came through with a run scoring single and scored a run to help the Vikings advance to the second round.
Mateo combined a strong work ethic and great versatility to become a very valuable and integral part of the success of the baseball program at Union Catholic.
Whether he's on the mound or playing various positions around the infield, Mateo can always be counted on to come through for the Vikings.
A sure-handed fielder, Mateo made numerous key plays in the field, and he also delivered when called upon on the mound to get key outs for the Vikings. At the plate, Mateo has a good eye and is a very good contact hitter, who came up with a big hit in UC's 3-0 victory over Colonia last spring.