By Kyle LoJacono
The already record number of Wiregrass Ranch High student athletes who have signed to compete in college continued to grow on May 13
Swimmers Brandan Leroche and Rebecca Pindral, and football player Raymond Powell each inked their names to commitment letters, pushing the number of Bulls signees this year to 15.
Pindral will compete at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), a Division I program. Leroche will swim at The College at Brockport, a Division III program in the State University of New York system. Powell, a safety, picked Marietta College, a Division III program in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
Bulls built for life in the pool
Leroche and Pindral are the first Wiregrass Ranch swimmers to sign with a school, but the two took very different approaches leading up to their signings.
Pindral began swimming 12 years ago and said she spends most of her time at the New Tampa YMCA, where the Bulls practice and compete for home meets.
“I’m really excited to be able to swim with UMBC,” said Pindral, who is undecided on her major. She then added, “I fell in love with the school on my recruiting trip. It’s a Division I school and they won the American East (Conference) championship last year. That’s exciting. I feel like everything I’ve done has led up to this.”
Leroche is a relative newcomer to the pool, just picking it up as a freshman and only started competitively in the summer before his sophomore year.
“It was something I always hoped for, but I wasn’t sure if I had enough time in the pool to get good enough,” said Leroche, who plans to major in international business and economics “I always kept it in my prayers. My father and I always talked about it. To be honest with you, it’s really a blessing to know that a school wants me to come swim for them.”
Pindral placed sixth in the Class 2A 100-yard breaststroke this year with a time of 1:07.09. She also qualified for states in the 200 medley. She reached the finals meet every season in high school except her freshman season.
Pindral was named All-Laker/All-Lutz News Girls Swimmer/Diver of the Year and to the All-Sunshine Athletic Conference first team as a senior.
Leroche was part of the Wiregrass Ranch 200 medley relay team that took fifth at the regional swim meet in 1:52.16, one spot away from qualifying for states. He also was on the Bulls 400 freestyle relay that finished 14th at regionals.
As an individual swimmer, Leroche reached regionals in the 100 backstroke, where he place 11th in 1:01.91.
Both swimmers gave credit to what they learned from their coaches at Wiregrass Ranch and to Andrew Palumbo, an aquatics instructor from the YMCA.
“I can’t wait to take everything I’ve learned from the coaches here at Wiregrass and Andrew from the Y to the next level,” Pindral said.
Powell born to play football
Most boys born in Bavaria, Germany grow up dreaming about athletic success on the soccer pitch, but Powell was drawn to the football gridiron.
“I love everything about football,” said Powell, who plans to major in chemical engineering. “The speed, the hitting, the team aspect. Everything about it.”
Powell, who is the fourth Bulls football player to sign with a college this year, started playing football in eighth grade. His father Robert, who is in the U.S. Army, and mother Susanne are still in Bavaria.
Powell moved to Pasco County during the summer between his sophomore and junior years in part to play football in the United States. He has noticed big differences between the game here and in Germany.
“For one thing you only practice twice a week over there instead of five times here,” Powell said. “In Germany there were maybe 50 people in the stands. Here the stands were always packed.”
Wiregrass Ranch went 6-5 in 2010 and won the first district championship in program history. Powell had 48 tackles and a team-high four interceptions last year. He was named the Bulls football Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts as a senior.
“I can’t say enough about Powell,” said Wiregrass Ranch football coach Jeremy Shobe. “He’s one of the hardest workers we’ve had and is a fearless hitter. He came here for the love of football and is one of the best defensive players we’ve ever had.”
After traveling thousands of miles to attend high school, Powell should have few problems traveling a few hundred north for college.
“It really won’t be that hard for me to go off to college,” Powell said with a laugh. “It’s not like I’m leaving my parents because I already had to do that to go to high school.”
–All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches. All race results as recorded by the Florida High School Athletic Association.