Brighton High School celebrated five student-athletes signing their national letters of intent, committing them to play NCAA Division I athletics next year.
Delia McDade Clay signed with Siena College for cross-country and track, Gabriel Barraclough-Tan signed with Cornell University for soccer, Christian Burkhart signed with Merrimack College for soccer, Hannah Butler signed with UCLA for diving, and Mackenzi Doescher signed with the University at Buffalo for swimming.
Family members, classmates, teammates, coaches and staff members attended the event at BHS.
“All five of these young athletes have accomplished so much here in Brighton and we are so excited to see them taking their academic career to very good colleges and universities and taking their talents as an athlete to the next level,” said Nate Merritt, Brighton’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics.
McDade Clay ran cross-country and indoor and outdoor track for the Barons. Last spring, she helped Brighton win a Section V Class A championship in outdoor track by winning the 1,500-meter run and taking second in the 3,000. McDade Clay went on to place 12th in the 2-mile run at the 2018 New Balance Outdoor Nationals. During indoor track season this past winter, she placed third in the 3,000 and fourth in the 1,500 at Class B Sectionals. During cross-country this fall, McDade Clay finished third at Class A Sectionals and 22nd in the State Class A race. She was the top Section V finisher — sixth — in the girls varsity AA seeded race at the McQuaid Invitational, helping Brighton win its first McQuaid Championship.
“When I visited Siena, I just fell in love with everything about it,” McDade Clay said. “The coach was amazing, the academics are really good, and the team environment was really what made it the place for me.”
McDade Clay said she’s been dreaming of running at the Division I level for a long time.
Barraclough-Tan was a four-year starter for the Brighton soccer team. This past season, he tallied nine goals and four assists while helping the Barons win a Section V Class A championship. Barraclough-Tan was named second team all-county. He finished his career with 23 goals and 24 assists.
“Cornell has always been my dream school, a place I aspired to attend,” Barraclough-Tan said. “I’ve been visiting since I was young, it’s a beautiful campus. I’ve been talking to professors and they’re amazing. Having everything fall into place with soccer was icing on the cake. It all came together for me and I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”
Barraclough-Tan said winning the championship after going through different challenges was the highlight of his career.
Burkhart served as the soccer team’s goalie in 2018 and recorded eight shutouts with a 1.12 goals against average. He also scored four goals with two coming while playing goalie. Burkhart was named second team all-county.
“When I visited Merrimack I really liked the campus, really liked the coach, and really liked the whole aura they had there during my visits,” Burkhart said.
Burkhart said winning the championship and going to states was the highlight of his Brighton career.
Butler won a state championship in diving in 2018 and Section V championships in 2017 and 2018. She holds the Section V and Brighton school records in diving. Butler helped the Barons win the Section V Class B team championship in 2017 and 2018 and won the outstanding performer of the meet in 2018.
“When I went to visit UCLA, I liked the atmosphere and the campus was so pretty,” Butler said. “I couldn’t possibly turn down the opportunity to be able to do my favorite sport there.”
Butler said winning a state championship was the highlight of her career, but she also loved cheering on other teams and the sense of community here in Brighton.
Doescher is a three-time Sectional champion in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyle. This past season, she helped the 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams win titles, with the medley relay setting a Section V Class B record. Doescher is a part of school records in the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, and 400 freestyle relay.
“When I went to Buffalo, the girls that I met on the team were really inviting and made me feel welcome when I was talking to them,” Doescher said. “It’s just an added benefit that it’s a good school for me to continue my athletic and academic career.”
Doescher enjoyed winning two team championships but also appreciated the opportunity to form lasting friendships with her teammates.