In one swoop up and down the East Coast, Colton Zimring settled on his future.
A successful baseball tournament with the Florida Burn in Atlanta set him up for a return trip through Gainesville. He stopped at the University of Florida on his way home to make his decision — Zimring committed to play for Florida.
The Lakewood Ranch pitcher and first baseman — the Gators want him as a pitcher — made that decision official Wednesday when he signed a National Letter of Intent with the Gators during a ceremony at Lakewood Ranch High School. His Burn teammates will be with him, too.
“My travel team has about eight guys going there — six to eight guys, I think — and we’re all tight on our travel team. It was a good fit to me academically and athletically,” Zimring said. “And being able to go there with friends and people you already know, and trying to honestly go there and win a national championship is what you want to do. So we all kind of climb on board together and try to make it happen.”
Zimring was one of nine Mustangs to sign as part of an early signing period in Manatee County. Five softball players signed, including four Division I programs.
Shortstop Kinsey Goelz led the way as the lone Power Five Conference commitment: She signed with Mississippi State. Outfielder Denali Schappacher signed with Central Florida, outfielder Courtney McLellan signed with North Florida and pitcher Logan Newton signed with James Madison.
“My day was so great. I was so happy the whole entire day. I had a huge smile on my face,” Goelz said. “We’re very proud and happy.”
Sophia Falco, the defending Class 4A champion in the long jump, signed to compete in track and field at Vanderbilt, swimmer Courtney Chapin signed with Ohio and rower Emma Stock signed with Drake to fill out the nine-athlete ceremony.
At Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics, a 10th Mustang made her pledge official. Brooke Johnson signed with Ball State.
“Great day in all sports,” Zimring said. “Lakewood Ranch — they’ve got sports teams. The coaches here are great, and they know how to turn players into college players.”
Bayshore senior T.C. Smith has a state swimming title to defend in Stuart this weekend, but he took care of his college future when he signed with Louisville on Wednesday. Smith said he chose Louisville after visiting the school. Tennessee was his other finalist.
“You could tell the swimmers had a lot of energy and a lot of confidence in what was ahead,” Smith said about choosing Louisville.
At Louisville, he’ll continue swimming distance events and said he’ll study something in business. He’ll also graduate Bayshore with an associate’s degree as he’s a dual-enrolled student at State College of Florida.
“Once you start to think about the college thing, you have advisers to work with and they definitely are a huge support and very helpful,” Smith said.
Inspiration Academy is entering its fourth season with a baseball program, but at least three players will continue playing in college, including two headed to Division I programs.
Pitcher Vinny Kasholo signed with Army, shortstop Matthew Golda signed with Florida Atlantic and pitcher/shortstop Collin Moore, a transfer from Manatee, signed with State College of Florida during a ceremony at Inspiration Academy on Wednesday.
“It’s really motivating for the program, a big start-up,” said Kasholo, who began his career at Lakewood Ranch before transferring to Inspiration before last season. “It hasn’t been up that long, but I think it’s a huge contribution to following years and I love to be a part of it.”
Tennis star MaryAnn Rompf was one of three at Saint Stephen’s to sign National Letters of Intent when she signed her commitment to Wisconsin.
Rompf, who didn’t play tennis for the Falcons last spring, is considered a five-star recruit by TennisRecruiting.net and is ranked ninth in Florida for her age.
Rompf was joined by golfer David Gao, who signed with Division II Rollins College in Winter Park, and lacrosse player Emily Hiebner, who committed to Division II University of Montevallo in Alabama.
Volleyball player Alysha O’Dell was Manatee’s lone signing. The senior outside hitter signed with State College of Florida, a junior college program in Manatee County, where she will play for at least one season before potentially moving on to a four-year school.
IMG Academy had the biggest group of signings on Wednesday with 31. The Ascenders had athletes from baseball, boys basketball, golf, lacrosse, track and field/cross-country and tennis sign.
Some of the top names to sign were basketball player Bruno Fernando (Maryland), golfers Jaravee Boonchant (Duke) and Mika Liu (Stanford), lacrosse player Tehoka Nanticoke (Albany) and baseball player Tyler Ahern (Florida State).
The school has scheduled its signing ceremony for Thursday afternoon. Ali Yawn, Brooke Farrow, Casey Farrow and Sara Crawford are set to sign from softball. High jumper Emma King is scheduled to sign in track and field.