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Cedarcrest Class of 2023 Student-Athletes Prepare for Their Next Chapter

Cedarcrest Class of 2023 Student-Athletes.

Clockwise from the top-center: London Haley, Charlotte Giffin, Riley Warden, Avery Zlateff, Sara Murphy, Maddie Knowles, Francisco Contreras, and Ellie Sivesind.


Each year, thousands of prospective future collegiate athletes make athletic commitments to schools around the nation, declaring their intent to attend and play sports for the colleges of their choice. For many it validates the years of hard work and dedication. For others, it means what was once a dream is quickly becoming a reality.

We had the opportunity to gather the thoughts of eight Cedarcrest student-athletes from the recent graduating Class of 2023. Among them: cross-country runners, track and field athletes, a wrestler, a swimmer, softball players, a state champion golfer, and a gymnast. With the coordination of Cedarcrest High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Jason Frederick, we learn from our student-athletes directly as they share their thoughts on all that is yet to come. Now graduates, they will soon travel around the state and across the country, taking their academic and athletic talents to the next level.


FRANCISCO CONTRERAS (Evergreen State College, Wrestling)

SELECTING EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE: “It was a rollercoaster of decisions, I was not sure at all what school I wanted to choose. With much gratitude, one of my coaches, Mark Ward, helped and guided me with my next steps and rationalized my thinking. I ended up being led to Greg Ford (Jr., Evergreen Men's Wrestling Coach), speaking with him every now and then and seeing him in many tournaments. After a long time, I decided to take the step and told him I wanted to wrestle under his guidance.

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS: "There are so many memories. but probably the best one was my last home match. It was my senior night and I was the last match of the night and had just pinned my opponent. The crowd was roaring and after I got my hand raised and shook the opponent's coach's hand, all of my teammates swarmed me and threw me up in the air and starting chanting my name. That was the most beautiful and remarkable feeling and experience."

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WRESTLING: "The competitiveness, aggression, skills required and the discipline both taught and used."

THOUGHTS WHEN SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: "My first thought was, 'here goes nothing!' It was kind of a crazy, surreal experience - the fact that I am signing to go to a school for sports, let alone wrestling, was something I would have never imagined I would be doing. I'm just so thankful for everything that led up to this decision."

Francisco wrestled all four years at Cedarcrest, while also competing for three years in club freestyle. At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, he was inducted into the Red Wolves Athletics Hall of Fame for Boys Wrestling and plans on studying nursing at Evergreen State College. Francisco indicates he will be a "wrestling nurse."


CHARLOTTE GIFFIN (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Golf)

SELECTING EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: "I had sent emails to a number of coaches at schools who offered my degree. I received a response from Embry-Riddle and they invited me out for a visit. I had a great time meeting the players and seeing the campus and everything seemed like a good fit.”

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS:I have been fortunate to have made so many great memories from high school golf and it is hard to pick my favorites. Though one of my favorites happened this year at (the) state (tournament). Once I finished on the last day, (my teammates) gave each other big hugs and it felt really nice.

(Note: Charlotte is the 2023 WIAA 2A State Champion in Girls Golf, a first for Cedarcrest, winning the tournament by seven strokes.)

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT GOLF: “I love practicing and playing with my teammates and having friendly competitions with them.”


Charlotte played golf and volleyball in her time at Cedarcrest. She was named the 2022-2023 Cedarcrest Female Athlete of the Year and inducted into the Red Wolves Athletics Hall of Fame for Girls Golf. Charlotte will be studying aeronautical science and pursuing a career as a commercial pilot.


LONDON HALEY (Whitworth University, Cross-Country/Indoor Track/Track and Field)

SELECTING WHITWORTH UNIVERSITY: “With the schools I visited, I would reach out to coaches before going to visit and see if they had time to meet with me. I would also make sure to go on a run with some of the athletes. Running with the athletes was important to get a sense of community and how everyone interacts with each other. At Whitworth, the coaches care about you more than just being an athlete, they also care about you as a student and what you want to gain from your time at college."

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS:Hanging out as a team, Homecoming the last two years and how well we all get along! My fondest memory would be the Jell-O mile relay. We basically ate a ton of Jell-O and then ran a mile. Somehow, no one threw up! I would also say hiking together as a team, cliff jumping - just too many great memories.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING AND TRACK AND FIELD:The grit that it takes to do this sport drove me to keep going and I am not ready to stop. Running has become a part of me and it is more about running against yourself than running against other people. Running has become a breath of fresh air, a calmness, and has brought me joy. I know in college I have more to give and, like Cedarcrest, Whitworth has a strong running community. I love the community, the positivity, and how everyone works together. Even the people we run against want to see us improve and you want to see them improve too.

THOUGHTS ON SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: “Nothing really changed for me, but I did think, 'what am I getting into? What is college life going to be like?' I have also wondered if I will be able to stay on top of school and commit to running.”

London began running cross-country and joined track in sixth grade at Tolt Middle School. He continued that journey, participating in both sports all four years at Cedarcrest. He also was a member of the Cedarcrest Mountain Biking Team for seven seasons, beginning in sixth grade. At the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year, London was a two-sport inductee to the Red Wolves Athletics Hall of Fame for both Cross-Country and Track and Field, was named Cedarcrest's Male Athlete of the Year, and received the United States Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award. While undecided on a major, London has interests in architecture, business, engineering, and art.


MADDIE KNOWLES (Iowa State University, Softball)

SELECTING IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY: “After my junior year, I was not planning on playing in college and hoped to end my softball career on a positive note. I did not put in a lot of work towards being recruited, but was getting noticed by a handful of schools at travel tournaments that summer. I decided to continue playing with my team this fall and I was noticed by an Iowa State coach in California in November 2022. They had a roster opening for a catcher in my class, so my coach helped me get in touch with their coaching staff. After communicating with them for a few months, I attended a camp in late January and soon after I received my offer. I then signed to make things official a few weeks later! I took my official visit in April and am excited to get started this fall."

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS:Cedarcrest's softball program has had an incredibly talented group of players the past few years. When COVID-19 only allowed us seniors to play two regular seasons, we made district and state appearances both years. While there is not one specific moment I can share, I am so proud of our program and how much we have accomplished during my time at Cedarcrest.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT FASTPITCH/SOFTBALL: “Softball has taught me so many lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This sport has allowed me to a part of something bigger than myself. It has taught me how to win and lose with dignity and how to deal with adversity. Softball has connected me to so many amazing people and allowed me to travel the country to play the game I love. I am beyond grateful for everything this sport has done for me and I cannot wait to experience these things at the next level.”

THOUGHTS ON SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: “It was a surreal moment. There have been countless people throughout my athletic career that have told me I would not be good enough to play at a Power Five school, let alone any Division I school. It was an extremely rewarding moment to know that not only did my hard work pay off, but I proved all those people wrong. I owe much of my success to my family and current team/coaches and I am eternally grateful for all of their help.”

Maddie has played softball and basketball in her athletic career and also participated in dance classes through elementary school. At the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year, she was inducted in the Red Wolves Athletics Hall of Fame for Fastpitch/Softball. Maddie intends to major in either marketing or business analytics, though anticipates beginning college as an undeclared business major.


SARA MURPHY (Azusa Pacific University, Acrobatics and Tumbling)

SELECTING AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY: “I originally began talking with colleges for gymnastics starting in the summer of 2022. Azusa Pacific reached out to me and said they were interested in me for Acrobatics and Tumbling and I was invited for an official visit. I fell in love with the school and the team, so I decided to commit in September 2022 and signed with them in November 2022!"

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS:Cedarcrest does not have a gymnastics team, so I have been involved in club gymnastics outside of school. Some of my fondest memories with my club is definitely all of the travel meets I have been able to go on with my team, as well as the team bonding we have done. I have made so many lifelong friendships I am forever thankful for!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT ACROBATICS AND TUMBLING: “As this is a relatively new collegiate sport, I did not know much about it. I am excited, as this will be something new and much more a team sport than gymnastics is.”

THOUGHTS ON SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: “'OMG! I am going to be a collegiate athlete!' I was just very excited for this opportunity and so thankful that I am going to be able to continue athletics with something new.”

As indicated, without a school gymnastics team, Sara has competed in club gymnastics away from Cedarcrest. Currently, she plans on majoring in Business Marketing, with a minor in Psychology.


ELLIE SIVESIND (Azusa Pacific University, Swimming)

SELECTING AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY: “The process was so incredibly surreal. I reached out to many schools in Washington, Oregon, and California and filled out questionnaires and emailed coaches. APU was one of them and I flew down to visit them. I knew this was the school for me because it felt like an immediate fit and the girls on the team were so sweet and welcoming. I was offered a spot on the same day of my visit and signed about a month later! The process was exciting and I was so relieved when I signed. I cannot wait for the fall!"

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SWIMMING: “I love the atmosphere and the ability to set and make goals. I also love the friendships that are created and the sport is overall so rewarding.”

THOUGHTS ON SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: “I was so relieved and it was incredibly rewarding. The recruiting process can be really stressful and anxiety-inducing. When I signed, it felt so amazing to know where I was going, especially because APU is the school that feels the best for me.”

Ellie has been swimming since she was five years old and during elementary school and middle school, she played soccer, basketball, volleyball and track. She is currently leaning towards studying kinesiology and nutrition, but also indicates nursing as a possibility.


RILEY WARDEN (Montana State University - Billings, Softball)

SELECTING MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY: “I first met MSUB at a GNAC (Greater Northwest Athletic Conference) camp in Portland. After meeting them at the camp, they came and watched me that same weekend at the tournament in Portland and asked for my contact information so they could FaceTime and get to know me better. After that call, they invited to me to their camp in Billings in September 2022. I went to the camp and had an amazing time and loved the community. I was invited back a month later and on my official visit I knew I wanted my future to be in Billings."

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS:Going to state for softball two years in a row! It was pretty cool being able to place seventh in state this year, placing higher than both of the teams in our district that also went to the state tournament.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT FASTPITCH/SOFTBALL: “I love that I can be competitive. Softball has given me the chance to travel around the world playing the game I love and has created friendships that will last a lifetime.”

THOUGHTS ON SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: “I was beyond excited and so happy to just have finally figured out my future home! I was glad that the recruiting process was finally over and done with.”

Riley has played softball at Cedarcrest and for the past four years has also played on the Washington Ladyhawks select softball team. During her middle school years, she played soccer, volleyball, basketball, and ran track. Currently, Riley plans to major in business and minor in criminal justice.


AVERY ZLATEFF (Whitworth University, Cross-Country/Track and Field)

SELECTING WHITWORTH UNIVERSITY: “The process selecting a school was long and I was all over the board in what I was looking for. I was originally just looking for a good vibe, a place I knew I would feel comfortable and have a good time. I met the coach and team at Whitworth and got to see what it was like to be a student and an athlete there. In the end, I fell in love with the smaller school environment and tight community. Passionate as I am about running, the idea of being on the team at Whitworth fills me with joy. Now that it is official, I am so thankful - Whitworth just fits."

FONDEST MEMORIES OF CEDARCREST ATHLETICS:It is so hard to pick just a few. Summer training, morning runs with the team where afterwards we would ice in the river or hangout at Starbucks. Movie nights after races were the best team bonding experiences, along with swimming in a pool before running a mile at midnight to kick off the season. My freshman year I will never forget cross-country camp. I was introduced to the team and the lively environment of XC. My car trip to Idaho with London (Haley) for a race at regionals, drinking all the free tea and hot cocoa at the hotel we stayed at for state. And maybe best of all - singing in the car as I drove my best friends to the bus that was taking us to a meet. We listened to those two Eminem songs as tradition!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT CROSS-COUNTRY/TRACK AND FIELD: “I love to run. I love being outdoors. I love the exhilaration of racing. I love the bond formed with the team. I love all the wonderful memories it creates. There is nothing like living in the moment, which is a gift given when participating in these sports. You cannot help but savor every second, good or bad, because running makes you feel so alive.”

THOUGHTS ON SIGNING THE LETTER OF INTENT: “I honestly could not believe it when I finally chose to commit to Whitworth. Once I decided, I had no 'what-if's' or any doubts. I was confident in my choice and so excited that I would get to run on the team.”

Avery was a participant in both cross-country and track and field at Cedarcrest. Prior to attending the school, she played soccer, ran cross-country and track, and was involved in dance. Avery shares that she plans to study nursing, as she loves to be on her feet and work with people.



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