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By Zach Cavanagh

As the strange 2020-21 school year nears its close, Dana Hills High School honored its graduating seniors that are signed and committed to continue their athletic careers in college in an amended Signing Day ceremony on Monday, May 24.

“It’s really special,” said CJ Zwahlen, who signed with Washington State to play baseball. “A lot of these guys have just worked so hard to get to the places they’re going, especially with all of the challenges they’ve faced over the last year. Being able to come out here and celebrate that they’ve worked hard enough to continue their athletic careers at the next level is so good to see.”

Dana Hills recognized 12 student-athletes across seven sports that will be attending 12 different universities all over the country. The ceremony was held in the Dana Hills gymnasium with all participants and attendees wearing masks among a small crowd of the honorees’ family members.

2021 Dana Hills Signing Day. Photo: Zach Cavanagh

“This year was a little interesting because when we got to the actual Signing Day time,” Dana Hills athletic director and baseball coach Tom Faris said, “there wasn’t a lot of feedback and a lot of kids hadn’t signed yet because of COVID. Everyone was falling a little bit late on stuff. So, I decided let’s do it toward the end of the year, and I almost feel like this is what we’ll do every year. It gets more kids involved, and it’s great any time we can celebrate the seniors, especially during this pandemic. It’s a positive.”

The Dolphins baseball team had the most representatives honored with four players in attendance: Zwahlen, Ian May (UC Berkeley), Aedan Anderson (Xavier) and Garrett Knuf (Cal Tech). Dana Hills had five signees total, with Rocco DiFrancesco (Colorado Mesa) not in attendance on Monday.

“It’s great, obviously, for the program,” Zwahlen said. “Good players breed other good players. As a baseball program, this school is really used to winning and that kind of culture that everybody has. Coach Faris taught us all the value of hard work, and especially, a lot of guys that buy into that, they get the ability to play at the next level.”

Photo Gallery

Here is the full list of Dana Hills student-athletes honored on Monday:

Baseball: Aedan Anderson, Xavier University; Rocco DiFrancesco, Colorado Mesa; Garrett Knuf, Cal Tech; Ian May, UC Berkeley; CJ Zwahlen, Washington State

Track and Field: Jillian Stafford, UCLA; Jonathan Sweeney, Humboldt State

Golf: Jason Bannister, Southern Indiana

Soccer: Parker Finnegan, Western Michigan

Football: Christian Preijers, Trine University

Softball: Piper Tago, Idaho State

Lacrosse: Jake Hubbard, Adams State


Zach Cavanagh
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at

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