Magnificent seven: WHS senior athletes ink letters of intent on signing day

Daily Light report

Seven senior athletes from Waxahachie High School formalized their college plans during Early National Signing Day on Wednesday afternoon.

Signing national letters of intent were CJ Noland (Oklahoma) and Jalen Lake (Colorado State) for basketball, as well as Emma Curry (Vanderbilt) for track and cross country; Kate Morgan (Samford) and Emma Smithey (Colorado School of Mines) for volleyball; and Angel Garfias (Northwestern State, La.) for soccer. A seventh, Emily Six (Texas Woman’s University), verbally committed for gymnastics.

Noland and Lake will be tipping off their senior basketball seasons this week, and both will be striving to improve on last year’s 30-7 record and regional quarterfinal appearance. With Noland, Lake and graduated BJ Francis leading the way, the Runnin’ Indians were ranked as high as No. 5 in the state last year.

Noland, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound shooting guard whom has tagged as a four-star recruit, chose the Sooners over reported scholarship offers from 14 other schools. He averaged 20 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.7 assists per game as a junior. His father, Belvis Noland, played at Kansas State for two seasons in the 1990s after winning a national juco title at Three Rivers Community College (Mo.).

Lake, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard, chose the Rams over a total of 17 offering teams, including Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Virginia Commonwealth. Lake, who transferred from Mansfield Lake Ridge before last season, averaged 14 points and three assists as a junior.

Curry, meanwhile, is right in the thick of her chase for hardware as she prepares for her third and final University Interscholastic League state cross country championship appearance after winning her fourth district gold medal two weeks ago. But Curry’s forte is on the track, where she didn’t get to showcase her talents last spring because of COVID-19.

In track, Curry competes in the 1600 and 3200 and has qualified for regional competition in both events. She holds Waxahachie High School records in the 800, 1600, 3200, 5K, 2 mile and distance medley relay.

Morgan and Smithey will plan to continue their volleyball careers collegiately, even as their high school run is not quite over. Morgan, a versatile 5-foot-10 Lady Indians team captain who plays multiple positions including outside hitter, defensive specialist and libero, revealed her commitment in September to play Division I volleyball.

Morgan last year posted 308 kills, 404 digs and 63 aces as the Lady Indians secured a District 7-6A tri-championship and their 18th-straight postseason berth. This year, the team made it 19 in a row.

Smithey, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter and middle blocker, announced her verbal commitment to Mines in early May. As a junior, Smithey was named second-team All-District 7-6A as well as to the district’s all-academic squad. She recorded 187 kills in her junior season and was third on the team with 61 total blocks.

Garfias was chosen as the 2020 All-Ellis County girls’ soccer Player of the Year. She was a point-scoring machine for the Lady Indians as a junior, with an eye-popping total of 24 goals and 24 assists in only 17 games. She recorded two hat tricks and three braces in 2020 with both a goal and assist in 9 of the 17 games she played in, and either a goal or assist in 16 of the 17 games she played in. Garfias was a member of the inaugural All-Ellis County girls’ soccer team as a sophomore in 2019 and will be a 4-year starter for the Lady Indians.

Six does not compete in a UIL-sanctioned sport, but she will join the only collegiate gymnastics program in the state of Texas. A senior Level 10 gymnast, Six will graduate in the top 3 percent of her class, while working out at Waxahachie Gymnastics Center 25-plus hours per week.