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Pine River-Backus athletes sign for college sports

Connor Tulenchik, Claire Dahl, Owen Carlson and Andrea James will continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level

Andrea James-copy.jpg
PR-B's Andrea James poses with her parents after signing a letter of intent to play college volleyball.
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PINE RIVER — Four athletes from Pine River-Backus - Connor Tulenchik, Claire Dahl, Owen Carlson and Andrea James - have signed on for college athletics

Connor Tulenchik
Connor Tulenchik
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After earning a state title in the winter, Tulenchik will continue his wrestling career at North Dakota State University in Fargo. The senior chose NDSU in part because of its top-notch training facility.

“They have a really good football program, so you know they are going to have a good weight room,” he said. “I can study there at the athletic complex - you have to for eight hours a week - so that’s nice, because it will help me get my work done.”

I still have a lot to learn with wrestling … but I can see myself being all-American in the future.
Connor Tulenchik, PR-B senior

Tulenchik was also a prominent performer as a running back for the PR-B football team, but he knew wrestling was the right choice for his future athletic career.

“I definitely love football - I might even love it more than wrestling - but I’m really good at wrestling already and I feel like I still have a lot of potential,” Tulenchik said. “I still have a lot to learn with wrestling … but I can see myself being all-American in the future.”

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As he gets set to join the Bison in just a few weeks, Tulenchik is excited to get to know his teammates and keep improving as a wrestler.

“I already met some of the team and I can’t wait to meet more of them … I’m really excited to take it to the next level and see what I can do there,” he said.

Claire Dahl.jpg
Claire Dahl
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After graduating, Dahl plans to play basketball at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.

The school checked all the boxes for Dahl, primarily in terms of location and academics.

“I knew I wanted to go to a school in the Dakotas … and I knew I wanted to go into physical therapy or exercise science,” Dahl said. “I put the education part first and then I ended up talking to their basketball coach, and I fell in love with the campus and with the small-town atmosphere.”

As she prepares to take the next step in her athletic career, she intends to focus on getting stronger and becoming even more comfortable with the basketball in her hands.

“I'm sure I'll take on a position as a guard, so ball-handling and lots of shooting this summer,” Dahl said. “Obviously, weight lifting is extremely important too.”

But more than anything, Dahl is ready to meet and build a rapport with a new set of teammates.

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“I love the team aspect of sports, so being able to be part of a team again is going to be a lot of fun," she said.

Andrea James-copy.jpg
PR-B's Andrea James poses with her parents after signing a letter of intent to play college volleyball.
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James’ path is slightly unorthodox, as the junior plans to play volleyball while taking post-secondary classes at Crown College in St. Bonifacius.

“Honestly, when I visited this school, I just loved the atmosphere,” James said. “I loved the faculty members, and everyone that I met from the school. I just felt like it was home, I guess you could say.”

Though she is looking forward to continuing her basketball career, James is more ready to experience college life, then enter the workforce.

“(I’m looking forward to) working with kids - I love kids,” she said. “Just the (college) experience in general is really, really exciting to me. I’m only a junior, so it is going to be very different for me.”

Honestly, when I visited this school, I just loved the atmosphere.
Andrea James, PR-B junior
Owen Carlson
Owen Carlson
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Carlson is the lone athlete participating in a sport that is not offered by Pine River-Backus schools, as he will compete in rodeo at Miles City Community College in Miles City, Montana.

The senior expects to ride bulls and bucking horses at the next level.

“Out at high school nationals, I just got talking to the head coach behind the bucking chutes,” Carlson said. “He asked me to come take a college visit. When I did, I really liked the school so I committed."

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As he prepares to make the nearly 600-mile trek to college, Carlson is ready to continue honing his craft, both by bull and on horseback.

“I’m looking forward to the experience and getting better,” Carlson said. “Going from high school rodeo to college rodeo is just another step to being one of the best in the country.”

Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com . Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan .

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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