By WALSH, CASSADY & WALSH
Merced College soccer athlete, Thomas Knierieme, is staying local.
A 2020 high school grad from Oakdale, Knierieme has signed with NAIA powerhouse, UC Merced. Flanked in the above photo by UC head coach Albert Martins and Merced College HC Sergio Sousa, Knierieme becomes the first two-year Blue Devil of the new regime to commit to a four-year school (Brian Manriquez, Pitman/Turlock, accepted a scholarship from Chico State after his freshman season).
Knierieme is a two-time all-CVC center midfielder and a fully matriculated student carrying a 3.7 gpa. His Blue Devil teams have already registered a state-level impact. In 2021, their first year of existence, they made it to the first round of the NorCal playoffs. This last season, 2022 they finished third in the state, losing 1-0 in the finals to eventual state champion Oxnard.