Bluffton High School added two more to a growing list of college-bound athletes on Wednesday.
Wrestler Michael Meyerink and swimmer Jake Minasi signed their names to letters of intent in front of a small crowd at the school gymnasium, committing their futures to pursuing athletics at the next level.
Meyerink went first, committing to Limestone College, where he said he is excited to join what he believes is an excellent wrestling program, and one that will give him an opportunity to continue improving. Lauded for his dedication to hard work, Meyerink said signing was a thrill.
"One of my goals was to be able to sign with any college," Meyerink said.
Never miss a local story.
Mission accomplished. Meyerink said he is looking forward to the increased intensity of college wrestling, where he expects greater challenges in a sport he has been excelling in since the seventh grade. He said he loves to wrestle because it allows him the chance to participate in a team sport while also focusing on standing out individually.
"It's a sport that changes you," Meyerink said. "You can do everything in your power to improve yourself."
Meyerink thanked his family and friends, many of whom attended the signing, cheering and even joking with him as he posed for photos.
Coach John Hollman was effusive in his praise for the senior, who he said is an "all-American kind of kid."
"I couldn't be more proud for him, for his family," Hollman said.
According to Hollman, Meyerink is one of the most focused athletes he has ever worked with, with an unparalleled work ethic.
"It's all go, all business," Hollman said. "He does all the little things that an athlete needs to do to be successful."
Standout swimmer Minasi, a specialist in the butterfly and backstroke, announced his intention to attend East Carolina University. Dressed for the occasion in his future school's purple and gold colors, Minasi signed to cheers from teammates and coaches. His decision came down to where he felt most comfortable, and according to Minasi, the Pirates felt like family.
"Today is such a great day," Minasi said.
Minasi said swimming at Bluffton High has helped him improve each year, something he hopes will continue in college. It was his interests outside the pool that also made ECU a good fit. Minasi said he hopes to become a physical therapist, and is looking forward to challenging himself in the classroom and earning a degree.
"I know they have a great academic program," said Minasi, who was joined by his parents, Kelly and Matt.
Bluffton athletics director Dave Adams said Meyerink and Minasi bring the number of Bobcats this year who have signed to play college sports to 16.
"This is the most exciting thing we do, is this right here," Adams said. "Everything you put into it pays off. This is the fun part."
Adams said each student should take the time to thank the parents, coaches, teammates and administrators that made their success possible.
"It's truly a team effort," Adams said.