Buchholz seniors Emerson Miller and Kate Drummond signed their Letters of Intent to the University of Florida on Thursday.
Both Miller and Drummond leave behind a legacy that brought the Bobcats back to prominence in the state.
Drummond will join her sister, Allison, in her third year as a Gator, on the cross country and track and field teams. She was a four-year letter winner in cross country and saw the program collect its second and third state titles in school history in her junior and senior years.
The decision to join UF came with some contemplation. Early on she also considered UCF and FSU.
“I talked to a lot of schools, but I knew I wanted to stay in Florida,” said Drummond. “I put a lot of thought into it. The first signing date came and I really had to make a decision. I realized the team size and the winning culture there at the University of Florida was where I wanted to end up.”
Drummond began running at an early age and had a lot of people to thank for her success. All those were present Thursday in a heartfelt speech that brought her and the audience to tears at times.
“I don’t know how I can narrow it down to one takeaway in my four years,” said Drummond. “The impact this school has had on me and these people have shaped me into the person I am.”
Miller dabbled in many other sports when he was in middle school. He trained three times a week with the Team FTC running group led by Enoch Nadler, a former Keystone Heights and UF runner that kept his interest in running.
In his first two years at Eastside high school, Coach Steven Doherty and teammate, Jackson Petty, encouraged him in cross country and track. By the end of his sophomore year, he had improved to be competitive at the local level.
He then transferred to Buchholz meeting the newly named cross country coach, Pat Douma, in Boulder, Colorado when both were vacationing there that summer.
The partnership worked as Miller finished ninth at the 4A state cross country meet and third in the 3200-meter run at the 4A track and field championships as a junior.
This year, he recorded the fastest 5K cross country time by an Alachua County runner at 14 minutes, 57.41 seconds. He won the regional title and finished third at the 4A state cross country championships.
Like Drummond, the chance to join the Gators was too much to pass up.
“I didn’t start the recruiting process as early as some did,” Miller said. “I was looking at MIT, Dartmouth, Duke, FSU and a few other schools. It came down to me liking the team. At the end of the day, it is all about education, and the University of Florida is the best bang for your buck. They are a top five public school in the nation and they are going to give me a good education.”