Six Washburn athletes sign with DI schools

More could follow before national signing day in February

From left to right: Washburn athletes Lizzie Mewes, Caleb Haugland, Emily Covert, Latrell Bible, Marli Rajacich and Grace Dickel.

Washburn High School senior Latrell Bible said he knew he wanted to be a Division I football player when he started at the school.

He will achieve that goal next fall, after signing with the University of Wyoming this month.

Bible, an offensive and defensive lineman, was one of six Washburn athletes to sign a national letter of intent with a Division I athletic program Wednesday, the NCAA’s early signing day. The six athletes participated in a ceremonial signing event Wednesday afternoon at Washburn, in front of family and teammates.

“I feel really appreciated, supported by my parents and my family and just the whole student body at Washburn High School,” Bible said.

Washburn has typically had at least one athlete sign with a Division I athletic program in recent years, Athletic Director Reggie Perkins said. But he said having six athletes sign with Division I programs is rare.

He attributed the sizeable number of Division I athletes at the school in part to Washburn’s coaches but also to the hard work of the students.

“It really comes down to these kids in their individual effort that they’ve put in over the years,” he said.

Bible said he’s been playing football since he was 4 years old, following in the footsteps of his older brother who played the sport. He said he realized he could play college football at the end of his sophomore year, when he started to “acquire” interest from schools like Purdue and Wisconsin.

He said the football program at Wyoming showed “a clear interest” in him and was invested in him both as a person and as an athlete.

“They were really big on me getting a degree,” said Bible, who wants to pursue physical therapy. “And that’s something I really take pride in is getting an education.”

For senior cross-country runner Caleb Haugland, the idea of becoming a college athlete became more of a reality as he progressed in his running career at Washburn.

Haugland, who participated in three of the past four Class 2A boy’s state cross-country meets, will run next fall at the University of San Francisco. He said that San Francisco is an awesome place to run and that he likes the team out there, noting that the school has a new coach with a new philosophy.

“He’s really trying to build something,” Haugland said of the coach, Pat McCurry.

For senior soccer and hockey player Lizzie Mewes, becoming a college athlete had always been a dream. Mewes, who signed with the University of Northern Iowa for soccer, said she became interested in the school when she visited it and stayed with some of the player on the soccer team two summers ago.

“After that, I was kind of stuck on it,” she said.

Bible, the football player, said his advice to younger athletes would be to stay humble, stay consistent and sacrifice. He said those with aspirations to play in college have to be willing to put in the extra time and separate themselves.

“There’s a kid across the country who’s also working just as hard for a spot that you want,” he said.

Perkins stressed during the ceremony that the six signees are students first, saying “that’s what they’ve done well.”

Also participating in the signing ceremony at Washburn were: Emily Covert, the two-time Class 2A girl’s cross-country state champion, who signed with the University of Colorado-Boulder; Grace Dickel, who finished sixth in this year’s Class 2A girl’s cross-country state meet and signed with Iowa State; and Marli Rajacich, a Star Tribune first-team all-metro soccer player who signed with Boston University.

Washburn also has several boy’s soccer players who are likely to play in college but haven’t decided on a school yet.

Three athletes from Southwest High School also signed national letters of intent on Nov. 14. They are: Ellie Puzak, who signed with Colorado-Boulder to play tennis; Ellis Gunter, who signed with Life University in Murrieta, Georgia to play rugby; and Katie McCabe, who signed with St. Louis College of Pharmacology to play softball.