Lake Dallas signing

Fourteen Lake Dallas student-athletes each signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.

Lake Dallas has held signing day ceremonies over the years in which several student-athletes have inked with colleges.

In early February, eight Falcons signed their names on the dotted line, which was, at the time, a new school record. But, it was a record that held up for just over two months. On Wednesday, a packed gymnasium witnessed 14 Lake Dallas students each sign a National Letter of Intent.

Lake Dallas head football coach Jason Young said that defensive end Jesse McLaughlin, kicker Harley Fuller and wide receiver/linebacker Godwin Ugochukwu have “worked their tails off to get here.”

McLaughlin, who will play college football for Evangel University (Springfield, Mo.), has been “a staple” on the Falcons’ defense the last two years. He totaled two sacks and eight quarterback hurries last fall.

“He was as skinny as those rails on the bleachers when he got here (as a sophomore),” Young said. “Great work ethic. He has truly turned into a college football player because of his hard work. He’ll be successful at Evangel.”

Harley Fuller will take his punting skills to Trinity Valley Community College. Also a member of the Lake Dallas boys’ soccer team, Fuller was the Falcons’ primary punter last fall. He punted 31 times with an average of 34.4 yards per attempt, including a long of 64.

Fuller is the second Lake Dallas kicker to sign with a college this year, following in the footsteps of Preston Gregg, who will kick for Missouri Western State.

“It is extremely difficult to get recruited as a kicker,” Young said. “You’ve got to really shine, really got to show out. He has absolutely worked his tail off to get to this position.”

Godwin Ugochukwu, meanwhile, moved away from Lake Dallas before his junior season but told his family that he wants to again play for the Falcons during his senior season. A two-way player, Ugochuwku put up bigger statistics on the defensive side of the ball, finishing with a team-high 93 tackles. Now, he will look to showcase his versatile skill set for Tarleton State.

“He’s been an absolute monster on both sides of the ball,” Young said. “I think they got a steal.”

Bailey Buckner has been as steady as they come for the Lake Dallas girls’ soccer team. The Lady Falcon center back spent each of the last three years anchoring the back of her team’s defense. A three-year varsity player, Buckner was part of Lake Dallas’ first district championship and a pair of playoff berths. She will play collegiately for Blinn College.

“She holds the glue to our defense,” said Nathan Davis, Lake Dallas head girls soccer coach.

A pair of all-district selections from the Lake Dallas volleyball team made it official Wednesday.

Caelyn Gunn, who split playing time at outside hitter and setter as a senior, inked with Arkansas-Fort Smith. Named the utility player of the year for District 6-5A last season, Gunn holds a pair of school records – the first Lady Falcon to log 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her career and most number of kills in a match, with 36.

The Lady Falcons also added another program first on Wednesday. Ashley Machuca, who also stars in the girls’ pole vault, became the first Lake Dallas volleyball player to sign with a college for beach volleyball. A first-team all-district selection her senior year, Machuca made it official with East Texas Baptist on Wednesday.

The most number of signees for Lake Dallas on Wednesday belonged to the Lady Falcon girls’ basketball team. Senior point guard Mackenzie Buss made it official with Collin College. Jorja Elliott, a combo guard, will compete collegiately for Incarnate Word. Forward Allie Buchanan isn’t going too far away from home and she will take to the court for Southeastern Oklahoma State. Guard Bailey Broughton is staying in Texas and will play for LeTourneau University.

The combination of Broughton, Buchanan, Buss and Elliott helped to lead Lake Dallas to new heights in girls’ basketball this past season. The Lady Falcons won a district title for the third consecutive year and was a regional finalist for the first time. For the four years that they were hooping it up for Lake Dallas, the team posted a record of 105-33.

“This is such a great group,” said Jordan Davis, Lake Dallas head girls basketball coach. “The cool thing is how this group stuck together and pulled through.”

Zach Darden was one of the first people that Lake Dallas head baseball coach Chris Haney talked with about baseball when Haney was hired three years ago. Named the 6-5A utility player of the year last season, Darden will have more conversations about the sport of baseball when he competes for Trinity University.

“She’s been serious about two things since he stepped on campus: baseball and academics,” Haney said. “This is a young man that takes academics very seriously, and much like our basketball team, he had to find a place where he could not only thrive in baseball, but also academically. I’m super excited that he landed somewhere he could develop on and off the field.”

Lake Dallas student athletic trainers Mireya Ledesma and Ella Grill signed with Oklahoma, while Khalid Guess will be a Texas Longhorn. Ledesma is captain of the Falcons’ student athletic trainer program and has been in the program for five years. Grill and Guess have been in the program for three years.

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