MIHS senior athletes sign national letters of intent at ceremony

A plethora of Mercer Island High School (MIHS) senior athletes flowed into the school commons on the afternoon of June 6 to sign their national letters of intent to continue their sports journeys next year on the collegiate and university levels.

Donning their future school colors, 24 of the 29 Islanders were present at the ceremony along with a throng of their parents, coaches and friends.

Athletic Coordinator Lindsey Blaine said the school is proud of the student-athletes, who share a combined grade-point average of 3.74 (girls, 3.84 and boys, 3.66).

“Thank you to all our coaches who are dedicated to our students and have helped them get to this point. We congratulate our athletes and their families and will be watching them proudly next year as they pursue athletic success at the next level,” Blaine said.

The Reporter reached out to four of the athletes to gain some insight into their high school sports careers and what they’ll ferry with them from the Island into their future endeavors.

Girls soccer player Mia Shanafelt, who is headed to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, said that when undertaking a captain’s role during her senior season she learned to lead with compassion.

“I furthered my confidence as a soccer player and as a human being. Walking around wearing the Mercer Island girls soccer logo put some pride in my step,” said Shanafelt, who hopes to major in neuroscience.

Meeting people and making friends throughout her soccer trek lead her highlights list.

“Particularly Mimi Pietila and my coach Erin (Bourguignon). They are both incredibly important people in my life and have been huge parts of my support system. I wouldn’t be here without them,” noted Shanafelt, adding that one of the reasons why she chose Wellesley — a historically women’s college — was because, “I wanted to be surrounded by strong and confident women in a predominantly male (STEM) field.”

In the baseball realm, a record nine Islanders from this year’s squad will hit the basepaths at the next level.

Edgar Nakamura hopes to major in marine biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. During his time with the MIHS team, he’s learned to throw strikes and has enjoyed hanging out with his baseball brethren.

On what drew him to Hawaii, he noted, “The coaching staff and program are great and they really wanted me, so it was a perfect fit, plus I like the island living.”

Westmont College is awaiting Evan Otte, who plans to major in business and economics at the Montecito, California, school.

“Westmont has positive and supportive coaches. They’re a winning team and will switch to Division 2 next year, plus I love the Santa Barbara area,” said Otte, who added that his interactions with many different people and personalities will benefit him in the next stage of his life.

The pitcher’s top highlight while playing for the Islanders was starting — and winning — the 3A state championship game in 2022 with his brother Halen manning the catcher’s spot.

On the women’s rowing front, Emma Williams will display her mettle at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Rowing is one of the toughest sports out there and you can’t stop. I’ve found that this also applies to life and have learned to push myself even when things get really hard,” said Williams, who will major in environmental science and plan II honors.

A standout experience for the Sammamish Rowing Club member was competing in her first big race in front of a crowd of people lining the Montlake Cut.

Next up is Texas rowing and she was impressed with the school after her visit.

“It was unlike any of the others I had visited in the sense that the collective drive and passion on the team was on an entirely different level,” she said.

Here’s the full list of signees:


Alex Henderson – Occidental College

Austin Cupic – University of San Francisco

Cutter Werdel- Chapman University

Edgar Nakamura – University of Hawaii at Manoa

Evan Otte – Westmont College

Jack Beebe – Whitman College

Lucas Fuji – Knox College

Marques Abulhosn – Gonzaga University

Max Clark – University of Washington

Track and Field

Arianna Nguyen – Western Washington University

Boys Lacrosse

Callum Iverson- Colorado College

Max Youssefnia – Amherst College

Girls Lacrosse

Renn Novak – Whitman College

Boys Swim and Dive

Emmett Ralston – New York University

Evan Liu – Boston University

Matt Williamson – Brown University

Girls Swim and Dive

Brooke Andrews – Cornell University

Girls Soccer

Katie Pedersen – Amherst College

Mia Shanafelt – Wellesley College

Samantha Weiss – Columbia University

Boys Soccer

Jackson Barker – University of Redlands

Samir Lumba – California Lutheran University

Boys Tennis

Hanri Luo – Whitman College

Girls Tennis

Lindsey Whelan – University of Redlands

Beach Volleyball

Noelle Niederman – Santa Clara University

(She is the school’s first beach volleyballer to sign)

Women’s Rowing

Emma Williams – University of Texas at Austin

Honor Warburg – Stanford University

Marin Lee – University of Washington


Brielle Gradek – Boston College