Patriot athletics will be well-represented at the next level, as seven senior student-athletes recently signed letters of intent to play sports in college.
Though each athlete is joining a new team, two will remain teammates as quarterback Cale Wolf and running back Zach Jorgens join the football team at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.
“It is a very good football program,” Wolf said. “It’s a newer program, but they have won five conference championships … Everything just added up, and it’s a perfect fit for me.”
The duo both said the two of them joining the same team was not necessarily by design, but they are looking forward to having a familiar face on their new team.
“It definitely takes some of the nerves out of it for me,” Wolf said. “It should be fun.”
In preparation for joining the Saints in the fall, both have been working out at home as often as possible.
“It’s difficult right now, but getting those at-home workouts in is the main thing,” Jorgens said. “I’m just making sure my body will be ready. The transition to college will be hard, but I have been taking some college classes so I don’t think it will be that dramatic of a change.”
After a state tournament appearance for the Patriot volleyball team, defensive specialist Mariah Rickard intends to continue her career at Bethel University in St. Paul.
“I knew after our run in volleyball this year, I wasn’t ready to be done yet,” she said. “I knew I wanted to get my nursing degree and specialize in neonatal nursing, and Bethel has that program.”
Wanting to give her academics the attention it deserves, Rickard saw playing volleyball for Bethel as a chance to fuel her competitive side without sacrificing her focus on school.
“I know the Division-III level doesn’t involve a crazy amount of travel, so I wouldn’t have to go to Florida or somewhere like that during the week. It is a reasonable thing for me to (balance with academics),” she said.
Despite also playing softball in her high school career, Rickard said her passion for volleyball made her want to continue along that path, and Bethel gave her the chance to satisfy her competitive nature.
“The Pequot team has always been super competitive,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to lose that, and I knew I wanted to be pushed … I’m just super excited to have this opportunity.”
Cassidy Chaney will also take her athletic skills to the next level, agreeing to ski for the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“I really like the Duluth area - and Spirit Mountain, which is where I would be skiing,” Chaney said. “When I toured there, I loved the school and they have a good business program.”
Despite planning for a long time to run track at the college level, Chaney changed course after a successful season on the slope in her senior year. In preparation for her first college season, she has been working out “pretty much every day.”
“I’m just excited for the new experience, and to focus on just one sport,” Chaney said. “It will be nice to just work to improve in one.”
Hayden Boelter will head to the St. Cloud area in the fall and will play hockey at the College of St. Benedict.
“My dad went to St. John’s, so I guess I’ve always had a connection to this school,” she said. “My assistant coach, Mariah Reed, went there too, so it became an even bigger attraction to me. I toured it and loved the school, so it just worked out perfectly.”
Boelter also played golf in high school, but she has known from a young age that hockey was the sport she would like to pursue, saying it is “just more fun.”
“I’m really excited to play more hockey, but I’m just looking forward to meeting new people and moving forward in life - grow up and become an adult a bit,” she said.
After touring the campus and appreciating the “small-school atmosphere,” Lachlan Larson has decided to enroll at the University of Minnesota Crookston, where she intends to play golf.
“Playing golf in Pequot, I got really close with that group of girls,” Larson said. “I’m looking forward to being able to continue that. School-wise, I did PSEO courses at (Central Lakes College) so I should only have a few years left, which is helpful.”
To keep herself prepared for college golf since the high school season was canceled, Larson is doing all she can to maintain her skills, which involves playing lots of golf.
“I have been practicing a lot on my own time,” Larson said. “I am very thankful the governor opened golf courses again so I can do that. I work at a course in the summer, so that definitely helps me get plenty of practice in.”
Rounding out the Patriots’ college athletes is Mirjana Ganley, who plans to pole vault and run relays for the track and field team at St. Mary’s University in Winona.
“I like the feel of a smaller school, and the coaches were really nice,” Ganley said. “I got to meet some of my teammates, and they were super nice too.”
Prior to the outright cancellation of spring sports by the Minnesota State High School League, Ganley had been doing a series of workouts given to her by Patriot track coach Jeff Brever. With the hope of a high school season now gone, she has been going on “lots of runs and bike rides” on her own to prepare for her college career.
“I’m just excited to hang out with the team,” Ganley said. “The girls I met are so nice and fun to hang out with.”
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.