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Tigers Alex Jaczko and Joey Moody hold a signing ceremony at the high school in May

GRAPHIC PHOTO: RYAN CLARKE - With his family looking on, Newberg wrestler Joey Moody signed with Clackamas Community College on May 22.

Huddled in the west commons at Newberg High School, Alex Jaczko and Joey Moody sat in elevated chairs and smiled among friends, family and coaches. On the tables in front of them were letters of intent to their future colleges; to their left a projector screen with a PowerPoint display acknowledging their athletic accomplishments.

Further to their left was a table with untouched chocolate cake and cookies.

May 22 was signing day for Jaczko and Moody, two of the 11 Tigers who will play sports at the collegiate level.

Flanked by their parents, Jaczko signed to play basketball at Linfield, while Moody signed with Clackamas Community College for wrestling.

Jaczko said Linfield felt like a perfect fit. His mom attended the McMinnville school for two years and although he said she avoided swaying him one way or the other, Jaczko said family played a key role in his decision.

"I had kind of an unorthodox recruiting process that led me to look at a lot of different schools," he said. "I chose Linfield because it's close to home and I really value my family."

Jaczko was the leading scorer on the NHS boys basketball team during his senior season, battling ankle injuries throughout a year of improvement for the Tiger program.

His athleticism and shooting stroke made him one of the best players in the Pacific Conference.

His academic success made him a valedictorian as well; he finished with straight-A's and was highly motivated in the classroom.

That dedication, along with his work ethic on the court, made him a program favorite of NHS coach Mark Brown, who lavished praise on the young hoopster.

At the signing day event, he fondly remembered a conversation about Jaczko with Linfield men's basketball coach Shanan Rosenberg.

"Coach Shanan called and asked me, 'What can you tell me about this kid?'" Brown said. "He asked me a bunch of questions and at the end of the interview he asked, 'Now, are you being honest with me or do you just want me to take your kid?' Every single question he asked was easy for me to answer and I can't say enough about this kid's focus on academics and athletics."

After attending a few open gyms at Linfield, Jaczko was sold and he made the all-important decision of where to play college ball.

Moody made his decision based on the prowess of the wrestling program. Clackamas Community College projects Moody, who wrestled at 145 during his senior year, to wrestle at 165 next year as a freshman.

Newberg wrestling coach Neil Russo expressed his excitement on signing day, saying he looked forward to watching Moody wrestle at the next level.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that Clackamas won the national junior college championship this last year," Russo said. "They are a very high-level wrestling program, perhaps the best in the state of Oregon at any level. Joey is stepping out of a program that operates at a high level and right into another one."

Moody went 35-10 in his senior year at NHS and was part of a Tiger team that finished second in state. The proximity of CCC to his hometown was also important in the decision-making process.

"I like my future teammates, I like the coaches and it's pretty close to home," Moody said. "It has everything I'm looking for and I can't wait to get started."

To close out the celebration after Jaczko and Moody signed, athletic director Tim Burke stepped forward and imparted a few words, saying he knew the athletes and their friends were eager to get to the cake and cookies, but first he had to acknowledge what they achieved on behalf of the athletic program.

"You two are the classic example for us of what we want our student-athletes to be," Burke said. "Thank you for doing that. Walking through the halls, not only in practice and game settings but every day, we appreciate how you've handled yourselves."

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