Wednesday marked the first day of the final signing period for the Class of 2018 and student-athletes across the nation put ink to paper and made the next step in their athletic and academic careers official.
For athletes like Silver Creek senior James Lee, who holds the second best 1,600-meter time (4:10.66) in the country and signed to run track and cross country at the University of Pennsylvania, the day was simultaneously a thrill and a relief.
"I had kind of a weird recruiting process and I ended up signing pretty late," Lee said. "It's a great school and I'm really excited about the track program there. It's great to make it official and to know that it's real."
The day also has a unifying effect as few high school athletes sign national letters of intent alone. Lee, for example, signed alongside seven of his Silver Creek classmates. At Broomfield, 16 Eagles athletes signed to participate in collegiate sports ranging from track and cross country to wrestling to cheer, and among them were more than a half dozen Division I recruits. Local athletes track their friends and rivals on social media, where few signings go unannounced.
"It's nice to see where everyone is going to school," Lee said. "I've been going to school with most of my classmates for at least four years and I know how much work they've put in to get to the next level, both athletically and academically. It was great to celebrate the occasion with them and all the other kids signing today."
Other schools like Frederick also hosted large groups, and others had unique signings like Dawson's Tyler Yungeberg signing to continue his fencing career at Pennsylvania State University and Peak to Peak's Madaline Callaway signing with the Baylor University equestrian program.
The regular signing period lasts until Aug. 1 and several BoCoPreps.com-area schools including Longmont, Niwot, Erie and more plan to wait until later in the spring to hold their signing ceremonies.
Here is a look at the local athletes who signed on Wednesday's first day and where they intend to compete at the next level.