Parents and friends packed the high school auditorium Wednesday, April 10, to show their support for six Pequot Lakes seniors - Tim Ryan, Colton Anderson, Vincent Miska, Jordan Schommer, Austin Meister and Marcus Klein - as they signed letters of intent to compete at the collegiate level.
Ryan and Anderson both signed up to play football at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. When looking for a school to attend, Ryan looked for three things: the degree program he wanted, a campus he liked and a solid football program.
"Of all the schools I looked at, they were the one with all three things," Ryan said.
Though he was also an accomplished wrestler in his high school career, Ryan said it was an easy decision to focus on football.
"Football has always been in our family. I joined wrestling for my friends, but football is a family thing," he said.
Anderson chose to attend River Falls primarily for its sports medicine program, but will join the football team this summer and will make sure he is in the best shape possible when he gets there.
"I come before school every morning and do about a half hour of cardio and conditioning and a little bit of football training," Anderson said. "I lift twice a day, every day. Once the field thaws out, I'll be training there every day ... I just want to get out on the field and put the pads on."
The 6-foot-8 frame of Vincent Miska will soon be seen on the basketball court at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota. The senior forward chose to join the Jimmies to study in the school's physical therapy program, but looks forward to everything basketball and what college life can provide.
"I'm just looking forward to the experience of it all, and making friends with everyone - hopefully ones that will last forever," he said.
Until he joins the Jimmies, however, Miska hopes to sharpen his skills on the court.
"I just need to get better at handling the ball and I need to be quicker on my feet," Miska said. "That is the main thing I'm focusing on."
Fellow basketball player Schommer will take his talents to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter to join the Golden Gusties basketball team.
"It's a great college, and I like the community around it," he said. "It feels kind of tight-knit there. The coaches were great, and it just kind of feels like home there."
Until he joins the team in the fall, Schommer hopes to bulk up a bit and gain some strength on the court to compliment his speed and shooting touch.
"I know I'm a little undersized, but I'm hoping that getting a little more strength and body mass will help a bit," he said.
Meister will also join the Gusties after graduating, but he will do so as a member of the Gustavus Adolphus baseball team.
"They invited me down for a camp, and they were interested right away," Meister said. "I took the tour, and it felt like home."
The senior pitcher and infielder expects to give up pitching at the next level, and plans to focus on perfecting his skills at the plate and on the diamond before he joins the team.
"I just have to prepare myself for the college speed," he said. "I have been down there for a few games already, and it is a lot quicker-paced than high school. I'm going to need quicker footwork in the field and quicker hands at the plate ... I'm just going to work my tail off this summer and put myself in a position where I can maybe play right away."
Klein will also turn his attention to baseball at the college level, joining St. John's University next year.
"When I visited, the coaches seemed really interested," he said. "They were really nice and welcoming, and the assistant coach is pretty young and I was able to relate with him."
A three-sport athlete, Klein has known for a long time that baseball would be his first choice once it came time for him to choose.
"My dad really has a love for baseball," Klein said. "When I was a little kid, we always played catch in the yard. I fell in love with baseball right away and I knew that was going to be my sport, so my main focus was on that."
Before he finds himself on the Johnnies' roster, he hopes to work on making sure his hitting is up to the standards of a successful college baseball program and is most looking forward to the independence college brings.
In addition to the six signees last week. Senior basketball player Olivia Lane agreed in November to join the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.