It’s been an eventful year for Puyallup High athletics as the Vikings have seen many of their athletes sign their commitments to play sports at the next level.
Inside Puyallup’s library last week, the Vikings hosted their fourth signing day, this time with one of their largest groups. Athletes Mackenzie Mergel and Lindsey Muiznieks (girls swim), Tyler Torgerson and Maceo Thomas-Murphy (football), Riley Pletcher and Steven Parker Jr. (baseball), Regan Byrd (softball), Levi Woolley (boys soccer) and Stephanie Washington (volleyball) all signed letters.
It was a big day for all, and for some, a special moment that commemorated an incredible journey together.
For nearly a decade, all Mackenzie Mergel (California Baptist) and Lindsey Muiznieks (New Mexico State) have known in the pool was their time together.
And during that time, the two stellar swimmers have set new standards for Puyallup girls swim.
“It’s been awesome (and) I remember when we started out — there’s a picture on the fridge of us and we looked like babies,” Muiznieks said. “But we were so cute standing there with our caps and goggles on.”
That picture was taken seven years ago, and since then all these two Vikings did was become two of the program’s greatest female swimmers the Puyallup pool has ever seen.
After last season, Mergel finished her career with five records, while Muiznieks owned three herself.
“We’ve done everything together, so to have us signing together as the last thing we do together is kind of our last hoorah,” Mergel said. “(It’s) our first step in moving towards different paths. So that’s going to be difficult not being able to do stuff together.”
Even being miles apart, the connection will still be there.
“We’ll Facetime with each other whenever we can,” Muiznieks said.
The Linfield football team just got a pair of strong Vikings in Torgerson and Thomas-Murphy, and the two couldn’t be happier.
After setting the single-season reception record last fall, Torgerson is looking to do more of the same for the Wildcat football team the next few years.
“They’re a good team as they compete for a national title each year,” Togerson said. “That attracted me the most, because I want to win a division title and a national title if I can.”
It’s all business for the future business major.
For Thomas-Murphy, signing on with Linfield was the respect he felt he deserved after displaying raw, and sometimes brutal strength last season as a linebacker. Now he hopes to show a softer side moving forward.
“They just made me feel at home — like a family. That was important to me to have that feeling,” said Thomas-Murphy, who shows interest in the nursing program at Linfield. “I just want to go there and do my best for the team.”
Mt. Veron to Cincinnati
Puyallup baseball coach Marc Wiese has seen many talented players sign over the years. It’s an indictment on the 20-year coach’s success in developing the state’s top talent.
This year’s been no different.
With Pletcher signing on with Xavier University in Cincinnati, Weise has a player in just about all the major college conferences.
“It’s awesome ... I thought about this my whole life. I always wanted to play Division I baseball,” Pletcher said of his opportunity to play for the Musketeers. “Distance didn’t matter to me. They only thing matters to me was D-I baseball.”
Parker had a different road to his signing. After being cut from the team as a freshman, the work and effort Parker put forth since then has solidified the senior’s hold on one of Puyallup’s coveted pitching slots.
That led to Skagit Valley College to come calling.
“From not making the Puyallup baseball team from freshman year to being a starting pitcher my senior year, I had a (few) offers to play in Colorado or California,” Parker said. “But I chose to play closer to home.”
“The good thing about (Byrd) staying close ... I get to go see her play when I can. But don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face get thrown out from the stands because they argue a bad call,” coach Tony Batinovich joked at the signing event.
Batinovich had an eventful signing day as the coach had both Byrd (softball, Saint Martin’s University) and Washington (volleyball, Puget Sound College) sign letters.
For Byrd, it was the chance to play close to home in Lacey while moving her life forward with her goal of moving into the law field.
“I just know I want to do something in the law field. I want to give that a try first,” Byrd said.
And if there’s a bad call against Byrd over the next few season, she’ll hear a friendly voice booming from the stands in protest for her.
“Yeah, it’s true. It will never stop,” Byrd said with a laugh about her softball coach’s comments.
Pitch for Lutes
It’s not hard to understand why Pacific Lutheran University wanted Levi Woolley. The Lutes are getting one player with the defensive prowess to shut down opponent’s attacks on the pitch.
“I’m excited to go there. It’s a great college and I stay close to home,” Woolley said.