State College celebrates National Signing Day

Shelby Querry has signed to play field hockey at Indiana University.
Shelby Querry has signed to play field hockey at Indiana University.

Mason Mellott sat in front of the cameras with a white Penn State hat in front of him and his parents next to him in Nittany Lions’ gear.

The State College baseball player was last of more than 20 athletes to announce their college decisions at the school’s National Signing Day ceremony in the North Building library on Wednesday.

Mellott wore a button-down shirt emblazoned with the Nittany Lion logo for the occasion and offered a “We Are” to punctuate his announcement and mark the end of the ceremony.

Mellott was one of 10 State College athletes recognized Wednesday who will continue their careers at Division-I programs.

Mellott is looking forward to continuing his career at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, a little more than three miles from his high school.

“I’ve been a Penn State fan all my life so it was just a great opportunity that I get to play there,” Mellott said. “And I’m definitely excited to play in front of all my hometown fans.”

Mellott, a pitcher, received an offer during an official visit to Penn State, where he was blown away by the team’s facilities. About one hour after the visit, he called Nittany Lions coach Rob Cooper to commit.

“I called coach Cooper and he was super-excited right when I told him,” Mellott said. “He was just excited to have a hometown kid and excited for me to be on the team because I think I can help the team.”

Pete Haffner considered becoming a Nittany Lion, too.

The all-state linebacker’s final list came down to joining Penn State as a preferred walk-on or contining his career at Lehigh.

“It was pretty tough, but when I got on campus at Lehigh, it was where my heart was,” Haffner said.

Haffner said he could see himself at Lehigh when he visited earlier this month. He felt the school was a great fit academically and athletically, and he connected with his future teammates.

He’ll also reunite with former State College teammate Jon Seighman, a defensive back for the Mountain Hawks.

“Jon’s been with me the whole way through the process,” Haffner said. “He’s been telling me since last summer, he’s like, ‘You got to come to Lehigh, you got to come to Lehigh.’ Jon’s been one of my best friends for a while and it’s pretty great being able to play with him again.”

Haffner’s teammate, Will Swope, is headed to Cornell.

Swope, an all-state offensive lineman, looked at Lehigh, Princeton and Bucknell, but the coaching staff sold Swope on Cornell.

Swope is ready to put in the work in the fall.

“Freshman year, I’m pretty much just going to be lifting 24/7,” Swope said. “That’s my job. Hopefully by the time sophomore, junior year comes around, I’ll be able to play some.”

Catherine Curtin is heading to the University of Massachusetts to compete on the cross country and track and field teams.

When she learned State College cross country coach Rebecca Donaghue went to UMass, she kept it in the back of her mind.

“When I went on my visit, I knew it was the place for me,” Curtin said.

She said she felt at home at UMass after spending time with the team.

“I felt that I could definitely succeed there,” said Curtin, who will be focusing on the mile for the track team.

Ben Gingher started swimming his sophomore year with one goal in mind.

He wanted to continue his career at the next level.

“I didn’t really have a solid plan for it, but that was where I wanted to go with it,” Gingher said.

Gingher achieved that goal as he will swim at Eastern Michigan. He was on the diving team as a freshman before switching to swimming and following in his four older sisters’ footsteps. Three sisters went on to swim in college, including Michele, who swam at Eastern Michigan.

Due to the family connection, he was familiar with the program.

He said his improvement during his junior year generated interest from colleges.

And the Eagles made the best offer.

“It was a lot of hard work and it definitely didn’t come easy,” Gingher said.

Shelby Querry (Indiana; field hockey), Jackie Snedden (Lock Haven; field hockey), Taylor Kuruzovich (Akron; women’s volleyball), Haley Garvin (UNC Charlotte; women’s cross country) and Nick Feffer (Dartmouth; men’s cross country) will also be competing for Division-I programs.

Other State College signees include: Kelly Mejia (Goldey-Beacom College; women’s soccer); Ellie Strauss (Bates College; women’s track and field); Sophie Brandimarte (John Carroll University; women’s lacrosse); Brielle Curtis (East Stroudsburg; women’s lacrosse); Abby Houtz (Bridgewater College; women’s lacrosse); Alison Heimer (Susquehanna University; women’s lacrosse); Jack Sheehan (Ferrum College (Va.); men’s lacrosse); Ryan Romero (St. Vincent’s College; men’s lacrosse); Greg Manno (Potsdam State College (N.Y.); men’s lacrosse); Liam Clarke (Eastern University; baseball); Gavin Schaefer-Hood (Hamilton College, baseball); Evan Smith (Penn College, baseball); Alli Henderson (Kutztown; women’s volleyball); Kam’ron Walker (Indiana University of Pennsylvania; football); Noah Woods (Slippery Rock, football); Aziz Salamy (Shippensburg; football); Drew Linnes (Lock Haven; football).

Note: State College graduate Jordan Misher will be playing football at Division-II Shepherd University (W.Va.), Mercersburg Academy announced in a press release Wednesday. Misher was Mercersburg’s leading rusher in 2016, finishing with 392 yards. He also led the team with 49.5 tackles.

Ryne Gery: 814-231-4679, @rgery