Athletes from across the LISD continue to sign on to play at the collegiate level.
Three students from Leander joined that growing list last week. Mason Montgomery will play baseball at Texas Tech, Sarah Cano will swim at Illinois, and Pilar Gonzaba will play volleyball at Incarnate Word.
“Going through it all is really stressful because you’ve got a bunch of schools calling you,” Montgomery said. “You’ve got to take your time. In the end, Tech was just where I wanted to go. I felt a good connection with the campus and the coaches.”
The trio joined 10 students from Rouse, seven from Cedar Park, and five from Vandegrift, who signed earlier in the week.
The Lions baseball team finished last season 4-14 in district play and Montgomery was the team’s only first-team all-district selection.
Texas Tech has been a perennial postseason player in the last few seasons. The Red Raiders were the No. 1 seed in their regional bracket last year but were eliminated after three games, one year after advancing to the College World Series in 2016.
“Before I came to Leander I was inaccurate, and just being with the coaches really helped me develop my strengths as a player,” Montgomery said. “Obviously (I'm looking forward to) the baseball, but I’m looking forward to the college experience. I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Like Montgomery, Cano struggled with the decision on which school to choose. She ultimately ended up at Illinois because of the academics, where she hopes to study animal science and agriculture business.
Cano finished 14th at the state meet last year in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 58.19 in the finals. As a sophomore in 2016, she came in 6th place in the same event while all placing 7th in the 200-meter IM.
“(My team has) meant everything to me,” Cano said. “My freshman year, I was really struggling with wanting to be here at Leander and the swim team just kind of took me in. Coach (Maegan Meynig) is my third coach now. She’s done a really awesome job of stepping in.”
Gonzaba remembers going to volleyball tournaments and seeing representatives from all the colleges she emailed and getting nervous about not knowing whether they were watching her or someone else.
The Cardinals volleyball team finished with an 8-15 record, including a 7-9 mark in Southland Conference play. Gonzaba said she chose Incarnate Word because the coaches and players felt like part of her family, much like what she experienced at Leander.
“We have a good culture here,” she said. “You always support one another matter what sport you’re in. You have football and baseball and basketball here and everyone just kind of boots each other.”