Merced College

College Notebook: MC football’s Croninger, Nava sign with four-year schools

Merced College sophomore Noah Croninger (8) has opted to continue his football career at the University of Idaho.
Merced College sophomore Noah Croninger (8) has opted to continue his football career at the University of Idaho. akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Noah Croninger was stuck in an age-old dilemma for student athletes.

Take the guaranteed money in front of you or pursue the dream of playing at the game’s highest level.

With an offer from Division II Western Oregon on the table, the Merced College sophomore could have participated in February’s national signing day with a number of his teammates. Croninger felt in his heart he could do better and held out.

After a couple months of deliberation, the MC kicker/punter has opted to bank on himself and his dreams. Croninger, who drilled six field goals and averaged 37.6 yards per punt for Merced, will join the University of Idaho football team as a preferred walk on.

“Part of the decision was my sister (Emelee),” Croninger said. “She and I have always been close and she’s going to school at Washington State. The two schools are pretty close together. The other part of the decision was believing I could compete at the Division I level and wanting the opportunity to see if it’s true. I looked at schools that had openings at punter and kicker and where I would have an opportunity to go in and compete for a job right away.

“I’m going to present myself as an athlete. There’s a number of different positions where I could be a contributor and we’ll see what happens. Idaho has a reputation for giving scholarships to its preferred walk ons if you can survive the first semester. That’s the goal right now.”

Croninger wasn’t the only Blue Devil to square away his future last week as linebacker Cristian Nava signed with Graceland University in Iowa. The NAIA school gets a linebacker that amassed 82 tackles, four fumble recoveries and one interception in his time with the Blue Devils.

A season to remember

The UC Merced volleyball team just closed out its most successful regular season with a program-record seven victories.

As an added bonus, the Bobcats (7-9) will get to participate in their first ever conference tournament. Men’s volleyball isn’t a regular sport for the California Pacific Conference, so UCM has competed as an independent the last three seasons.

Teams from the Cal Pac, Golden State Athletic Conference and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference will combine to compete in one championship tournament. The Bobcats’ introduction to the postseason won’t be easy, opening against NAIA No. 6 Loudres University on Friday.

Taking the reigns

UC Merced wasted little time naming its next women’s soccer coach, promoting assistant coach Hannah Brown to the top spot.

Bobcats coach Megan Atoigue stepped down from the position in mid March after posting 48-24-10 record in five years at the helm. Brown, who has been an assistant with the program from its inception, was named the interim coach during the team’s spring program. She officially got the job on Monday, inheriting a squad that went 12-3-3 and has eight regulars coming back.

Pedretti honored

The start of spring has been good to Merced College baseball coach Chris Pedretti.

The long-time skipper just earned his 800th-career victory a couple weeks ago and his Blue Devils have risen to No. 6 in Northern California while opening a four-game lead atop the Central Valley Conference standings about halfway through league play.

The good vibes kept coming as he was honored by the California Community College Coaches Association with the Achievement Award for his 34 years of service to MC. The annual award is given to a California Community College coach that shows exemplary participation, dedication and contributions to their chosen sport according to the CCCAA.

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