Former Devils warm up to new homes

Rising collegians share reflections on their Central days, hopes for seasons ahead

More than 30 student-athletes who graduated from Hinsdale Central High School in May will pursue their sports at the next level. In this second installment of a two-part series, The Hinsdalean asked each incoming collegian what he or she will remember about competing as a Red Devil and what generates the most anticipation in joining a new program.

Sarah Cernugel

Holy Cross College, soccer

I'll remember: the growth we made each year. Starting my freshman year, we only won two games, but we kept improving every year. This year we had a team full of tremendous talent so I was super excited to see how well we could do. We have always had great coaches at Hinsdale Central and I was able to develop into a much better soccer player in such a competitive and well-coached environment. Although we weren't able to have a season, one thing I will always remember about my years on the team was the friendships I made. The seasons were always so much fun.

I'm looking forward to: continuing to play soccer at a high level and contribute to the team in a positive way. The team had their best season in history last year, and we are looking to continue that success. I am super excited to play with such great soccer players and compete to hopefully win a championship!

Alexander Cho

University of Rochester, swimming

I'll remember: the grind. Despite how hard it could be there was always a reason to do the best you could in practice and during in-season meets. It all leads up to those final meets, conference, sectionals and finally state.

I'm looking forward to: Division III swimming at the University of Rochester, and I am curious what new events and spots I can develop as a college swimmer, as well as learning the balance of being a true student-athlete.

Cullen Cochlan

University of Pittsburgh, swimming

I'll remember: the sense of camaraderie. Each member of the team kicked off the season with the same goal in mind and kept it in their sights until the end.

I'm looking forward to: the opportunity to train and learn from a group of extremely accomplished swimmers, coaches and staff. I'm excited to take my swimming career to the next level and see what the future has in store for our team.

Jenna Collignon

Yale University, lacrosse

I'll remember: the team and the players. Throughout each year, we became so close as teammates as we spent so much time together. Starting at preseason we were together every week and then everyday during season. I had so much fun with them on and off the field and they are all incredible people. It's amazing how close we got both as friends and teammates and I will definitely miss them next year.

I'm looking forward to: the whole experience and everything that I will learn. I'm excited to get to know the team and my coaches. From when l visited the school and met the whole team, both the players and coaches seem extremely supportive. I'm looking forward to working with these people to become a stronger player. I am also excited for the academic side at Yale. They have incredible academic programs that will definitely challenge me but also teach me so much.

Braden Contreras

Valparaiso University, football

I'll remember: going out every day and just being with my best friends. I've known and played sports with these guys since I was in middle school. Knowing it was my last year with this family made me cherish every moment even more. Everyone says to enjoy high school sports because there is nothing else like it in the world, and they were right. It was a year I will remember for the rest of my life for many amazing reasons.

I'm looking forward to: meeting a new family and creating new memories. I'm looking forward to building new relationships with coaches and players every day. Lastly, I'm looking forward to starting over. Everyone's coming from different places and we get to try to make a name for ourselves on and off the field. No one knows who I really am and I have to grind my way to the top. I'm very excited and praying every day that we'll get to play sometime this year.

Lily Fuchs

DePauw University, golf

I'll remember: the ice cream runs that we would take after all of the tournaments. Not only was it a nice little treat after a long day of golfing, but it was also a great team bonding experience.

I'm looking forward to: the next level that college players compete at while still being very academically focused. The team bonding that occurs with college golf also seems so different and I am really excited to see what these next four years entail.

Alaina Hamood

Penn State University, lacrosse

I'll remember: winning the state championship my sophomore year! Every single girl on that team had one another's backs and were all deeply committed to the process of what it took to win the championship. Every one of us worked so hard throughout the entire year and we all gave 100 percent when we were training, not only physically, but mentally too. I will never forget the energy in the locker room after we won that night. It was incredible! We all as a team had a feeling of accomplishment, greatness and success.

I'm looking forward to: growing as a player and making friendships with all the girls on the team. Penn State is such an exceptional program with such great and inclusive girls and coaches and it is such an amazing feeling knowing I that I have the opportunity to make an impact on such an awesome program. I'm so excited to compete for a national championship with such outstanding people.

Nikki Hutten

University of Redlands, lacrosse

I'll remember: the team sleepover for newbie day. It was so much fun getting to know all of the girls better and it really created a true family between us

I'm looking forward to: being able to create a family in our team and being able to create long lasting memories with the Bulldogs.

Daniel Hofmann

Loras College, volleyball

I'll remember: my junior year going to state. It was the most fun year I had ever had. Those group of guys helped me grow as a volleyball player and for me to get better everyday.

I'm looking forward to: meeting all of the guys who are on the team. We have 11 freshmen coming in this year and I can't wait to make really good friendships with them. Hopefully we can win a championship in the next four years.

Grant Niestrom

Illinois Wesleyan University, lacrosse

I'll remember: the environment. Being a part of the team is a different type of lifestyle. Playing with friends and even people I have never met before is a great experience and I won't forget it for the rest of my life.

I'm looking forward to: playing lacrosse competitively. Playing for a national ring and just getting better at the sport all together. Lacrosse is the most enjoyable sport to me and the competition just adds onto how great it will be.

Madeline Pisani

University of Colorado, lacrosse

I'll remember: when we won state in 2018 my sophomore year. It was one on the best days of my life especially since the state game was played on Dickinson Field. The whole 2018 season was super fun and our team was very, very close, so to win state on our home field will all of my closest friends was something I will never forget. Another thing I loved about Central lacrosse was all the great friendships that were made through the team.

I'm looking forward to: being part of another really competitive program and school. Whenever I visit Boulder I get more and more excited each time to actually be a part of the team and play for the amazing coaches and have all the girls as my teammates. I'm super excited to go out there and play with all of them and continue to grow in my sport.

Olivia Rayis

Bowdoin College, soccer

I'll remember: playing with some people that I've grown up playing soccer with and the chance to be captain my senior year.

I'm looking forward to: getting to know my teammates and developing new friendships.

Mark Skokna

St. Ambrose University, football

I'll remember: running out onto Dickinson Field Friday nights under the lights.

I'm looking forward to: getting a chance to show what I can do at the next level and just meeting new people.

Taylor Wagner

Point Loma Nazarene University, cross country/track & field

I'll remember: winning the conference championship and taking third place at the IHSA state meet my senior cross country season, placing third in the 1,600-meter run at our sectional track meet as a freshman, running in the 4x800-meter relay at the state meet as a junior and the time I spent with my teammates, who are also my best friends.

I'm looking forward to: Point Loma's beautiful location and weather, being a part of the close-knit team and having the opportunity to work with the incredible coaches and staff. The team culture is something that really attracted me to PLNU, a small school where everyone is very close and supportive of each other.

Emily Napier, who will play lacross at DePauw University, could not be reached for comment.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean