Few possess Ryan Randall’s intimate knowledge of the recruiting process.
Then again, not many attend four colleges in a five-year span.
But that’s the hand the Merced High School graduate was dealt after his signings to swim at the University of Findlay (Ohio) and Limestone College (South Carolina) ended in disaster.
“At both schools, the head coach I’d signed on with were fired,” Randall said. “There were mass exoduses from both programs, and the situations just turned bad really quickly.”
Randall returned home to regroup, swimming at Merced College in the spring of 2013 and earning All-America status. The then-sophomore looked poised to sign again with a four-year school but was forced to wait after tearing the labrum in both of his shoulders. He assisted Scott McCall at Merced College last year while recovering from surgery and began getting his name out to colleges again.
Randall hopes the tumultuous journey has led him to the right place at last, signing a full scholarship last week with Division II Urbana University (Ohio).
“The best part is that they covered my full tuition, which I needed, but it really was the best situation for me,” Randall said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in Ohio to the north and south of me.
“I just had a third surgery, because one of my shoulders wasn’t recovering as well as the other. But the coach told me he knew he was getting an academic All-American and a great athlete, and even if I couldn’t swim this year that he’d have me for the next.
“Having that peace of mind that they were willing to wait on me if need be was a big factor.”
Randall acknowledged he has a ways to go in his recovery, but he’s excited to see what he can do in his final two years of eligibility.
“I cut a ton of time off swimming at Merced College, and that was while swimming with torn labrums,” Randall said. “I can’t wait to see how fast I can get once I’m fully healthy again. The goal is to make it to the Division II championships both years. I think I can do it.”
Still got it
Athletes aren’t the only ones who use the offseason to train. Two local coaches tested themselves this summer with positive results.
Former MC aquatics coach Bill Halpin entered the Hanalei Bay Open Water Challenge in Kauai, Hawaii, at the end of July.
Halpin said it had been 40 years since he last swam in an open-water event, so he was pleasantly surprised when he finished second in the 60-to-69 age bracket and 29th overall out of 149 participants in the 1-kilometer race.
“I’ve got high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so I needed to start swimming again,” Halpin said. “I started swimming laps, doing 3,000 to 4,000 yards three days a week. But it’s easy to not do, so I knew I needed something to keep me motivated, and this was perfect.”
Not to be outdone, Merced College pitching coach Nate Devine is showing he can still play. The former MC ace will be showing off his fielding ability as a utility player for the 2014 fast-pitch men’s national team that will participate in the Pan American Games in October.
Hitting the ground running
The UC Merced cross country program has had trouble holding onto head coaches. The Bobcats are hoping to buck the trend with the hiring of Ryan Nunez, the program’s third coach in three years.
The Notre Dame de Namur University alumnus isn’t far removed from his own running career, having graduated in 2012. He served two years as an assistant coach at his alma mater before landing in Merced. Nunez inherits two returners (Sophia Rios and Daniel Pena) who qualified for the NAIA National Championship a year ago.