College signings | Lakewood Ranch golfers Walker, Touchberry headed to Division I schools

jdill@bradenton.comNovember 14, 2013 

MANATEE -- Ramsey Touchberry and Danny Walker have done a lot together when it comes to golf.

The duo spent the past four high school seasons as integral pieces of a dynasty at Lakewood Ranch that was capped by the program's third consecutive state championship, a Florida prep record for a public school.

So it made perfect sense the seniors would make their college choices official during Wednesday's first day of the NCAA's early-signing period for basketball and non-revenue sports.

"It's nice to sign with a friend that you've been good friends with and competitive with for so many years," Touchberry said.

Touchberry, decked head to toe in University of Florida garb, signed with the Gators, while Walker, wearing a University of Virginia T-shirt, signed with the Cavaliers in the school's media center.

That personality display as well as the way each play the game of golf showcases the differences between the two key cogs in the Mustangs' machine over the last four years.

"Danny is way more reserved, he's more quiet," said Ian Segneri, who teaches both players at Missing Link Golf Academy in Lakewood Ranch. "Danny knows who he is; he's just not loud about it. Ramsey's got an outward confidence, but they both use it to their advantage in golf. Ramsey has that right up front, and kids are intimidated by Ramsey. ... Danny, you're not at first but after nine holes you are. It's one of those deals that he just does it by doing. ... And they have two very different golf games. Danny has a power game. He hits it hard. He's got that power, straightforward game, and Ramsey's more of a golf course worksman where he just works it around the course."

Now Touchberry and Walker will head their separate ways.

Touchberry grew up knowing UF was a place he always wanted to land. The Florida men's head coach watched Touchberry at last week's Class 3A state tournament in Howey-in-the-Hills at Mission Inn's El Campeon course for both rounds, which included a 4-under-par 68 and a chance late on the back nine to win an individual state crown.

That didn't happen, but the Mustangs polished off the third straight team title in style.

But there are challenges for each as they head off to college, namely trying to crack the starting rotation as freshmen.

"They're both extraordinary golfers on any level," Segneri said. "Now you're entering a realm where they are more like men; they're built like men and they've got more tournament experience. ... So we're going to spend the next six months just getting them ready to play against men. It's just a different deal."

Walker heads to a different style of golf course as he leaves the Bermuda grass of Florida for the bent grass up north, but Segneri said he should adjust fine.

"It's pretty cool, because we've looked forward to playing college golf since we were little," Walker said.

They weren't the only athletes to sign Wednesday.

At IMG Academy, a slew of student-athletes made their college choices official by putting ink to paper.

Andrew DiLacqua, of Lakewood Ranch, signed with Arizona State University to play baseball. He said he wanted to go West after taking a vacation to California a couple years ago, and the Sun Devils became highly interested in him after he participated in a travel ball tournament in Arizona a couple years ago.

"I just liked the field and they made the school part -- it's such a huge school -- they made it seem very small," DiLacqua said.

Other baseball signees from IMG included Willie Rios (Maryland), Luke Bonfield (Arkansas), Taylor Lane (Florida), Brian Rapp (Boston College) and Stephen Hueber (Division II Belmont Abbey).

On the basketball side, IMG's twin towers, Khaleann and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, received close to 100 offers and several boxes full of letters during the last few years before signing with the Vanderbilt Lady Commodores on Wednesday.

"It was really important, I think, because we've always been together," said Khaleann Caron-Goudreau about sticking together for college. "We're twins, so we're always doing things together."

Eric Cooper Jr. (Nevada) and Oliver Black (Mississippi State) signed, too.

In tennis, IMG's Alexandra Baer (Michigan State), William Bushamuka (Kentucky), RunHao Hua (Michigan) and Mark Ihrig (Denver) signed.

And IMG's golf program totaled the most signees Wednesday with Claudio Correa (USF), Jose Montano (Xavier), Hoyeong Kim (Middle Tennessee), Lisa Unterganschnigg (Colorado State), Kaeli Jones (South Alabama), Pedro Junqueira (Old Dominion), Estafania Morales (Quinnipiac) and Diana Gonzalez (USF) signing.

At Bayshore High, softball player Kristin Staley signed with NCAA Division II Flagler College in Saint Augustine. Staley moved to Bradenton from Ohio for her junior season and helped the Bruins reach the region final.

Staley plays second base for Bayshore and played travel ball for the Central Florida Stingrays Gold 18U team. She earned MVP honors at the Queen of Diamonds individual and represented Team USA in the 2013 European Cup Tournament in Netherlands.

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