Hillers commit to college programs

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Hopkinton High School will be well represented in the collegiate athletic ranks in the years to come, with a number of Hillers already having signaled their intent to continue their sports careers at the next level.

HHS Athletic Director Rich Cormier said the list is expected to grow significantly in the coming months, but the school held a signing ceremony Wednesday for the seniors who have letters of intent to play college sports.

Basketball standout Lauren Cho always wanted to play in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which combines a strong athletic tradition in NCAA Division 3 with one of the top academic conferences in the nation at any level. Cho focused her recruiting on Colby College in Maine, and she will play for the Mules next season.

“I have always loved basketball, so I am excited to have the chance to continue my career at such a great school,” Cho said. “It really felt like home when I visited.”

Cho said she will be focusing on her conditioning and honing her outside shot over the next year before stepping up to the college game. She said HHS basketball coach Mike Greco has been helping her and her teammates get the most out of their talents.

“Everyone on our team is really excited and committed, we want to be the best team in our league,” Cho said. “My teammates push me to keep working hard. It’s always competitive in practices and games, and they have been really supportive.”

Tess Weatherhead, a skilled diver, will compete in that sport at the University of Richmond next year. Seniors Ashley Butler, Gabi Ciri and Ava Perlov are slated to play college soccer following standout careers with the Hillers. Butler will attend Vassar, Ciri is heading to the University of Scranton, and Perlov will play for Catholic University.

HHS also has four baseball recruits in Dylan Locke (Brandeis), Nick Paharik (Assumption), John Wauters (Bentley) and Vinnie Purpura (Bryant).

Paharik said he was drawn in by the “close-knit community” at the Worcester school.

“The classes are smaller and you can build relationships with your teachers and the other kids there,” he said.

Paharik said there could be opportunities for him to play in the Greyhounds’ infield right away when he joins the team in the 2022-23 academic year. Before departing for college, he’ll have the chance to serve as a captain for the Hillers.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be a captain,” he said. “We hope to get back to another state championship, but ultimately our goal is just to create a family bond and be really close.”

The recruited athletes noted that the process was made even more challenging and stressful by the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited campus visits and opportunities for college coaches to see them play in person.

Those added obstacles made HHS junior Emma Dacey even happier to have settled on her college choice earlier than most. Dacey is set to join the women’s lacrosse program at the University of Connecticut in 2023-24.

“At my visit I really loved the atmosphere and the campus and the overall vibe, and I will get to watch the women’s hoops team, which is great,” she said. “The recruiting process was really stressful, so finding my place was a big relief, but I know I still have to keep my grades up.”

Dacey said she was impressed by some of the newly built athletic facilities at UConn. She hopes to help the Huskies get to an NCAA tournament someday, but first she’s focused on helping HHS succeed.

“It was a huge challenge losing our season two years ago,” Dacey said. “But our team is really close this year, and I think we will play really well together.”