Catching up with college athletes

Local grads shine at in-state programs

In recent years, numerous athletes from the North Branch and Rush City area have gone on to play college athletics. Now that the school year is over, summer is the perfect time to look back on the 2013-14 seasons that those athletes had in their respective programs.

While this list only includes in-state college athletes, feel free to email me names and schools of recent graduates who are participating in out-of-state college sports.

Note: The class descriptions of the athletes pertain to their 2013-14 years in school.

Molly Pignato – The freshman midfielder graduate of North Branch High School plays women’s soccer for Concordia College, Moorhead. The biology major played in six games this season, starting in one. The Cobbers went 11-7-1 overall and 7-3-1 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, or MIAC, to finish third overall behind the College of St. Benedict’s (16-3-1) and Macalester College (13-5-1).

Mikayla Hensch – The North Branch alumna debuted as a track and field athlete at Hamline University this year. Hensch was part of the 4×100-meter team that took fifth place at the MIAC Outdoor Championships in Northfield in May. The relay performance broke a seven-year school record time as they finished the line at 49.90. The Pipers took fifth place final MIAC competition.

Natalie Larson – The 6-foot sophomore forward from North Branch (Cambridge-Isanti High School) played in 28 basketball games this season at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. The biology major averaged 3.7 points and three rebounds per game, and had a high score 10 points in mid-January against Gustavus. Larson made a substantial jump from appearing in six games her freshman year. The Cardinals went 24-4 overall this season, and 20-2 in the MIAC, losing just one game at home all year. St. Mary’s earned the regular-season conference title, their first in 28 years, but lost in their first-ever appearance in the MIAC title game to St. Thomas, 71-58. They then lost 71-61 in a Division III NCAA Regional game against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Scott Bossard – The North Branch alumnus returned for his sophomore year as a tight end for the Augsburg College football program. The finance major appeared in 10 games, while recording nine receptions for 121 yards and one touchdown. The Auggies went 5-5 overall this season and 3-5 in the MIAC to finish sixth in the conference. Bethel earned the MIAC championship at 8-0 in league play.

Jon Watts – The senior wide receiver for the Gustavus Adolphus College football team closed his college career in 2013. The Rush City native appeared in 10 games for the Gusties. Gustavus finished fifth in the MIAC standings at 6-4 overall and 4-4 in conference play.

Austin Niederkorn – The 5-foot-11 football offensive lineman for Hamline played in all 10 games his junior year for the Pipers. Hamline went 2-8 overall and 1-7 in the MIAC.

Danica Schellbach – The 6-foot sophomore basketball prowess started in all 26 games at the College of St. Scholastica. The health information management major averaged 6.5 points per game and five rebounds per game. Schellbach, a native of Rush City, was second on the team in blocks with 17 and second in rebounding (131). The Saints went 16-10 overall and 11-3 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

Chelsea Johnson – The junior North Branch native was named the Division III Women’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2013 cross-country season by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Johnson was the first St. Scholastica and UMAC athlete to earn the honor from the association since the award debuted in 2006. Johnson was the individual champion at the 2013 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships and earned Scholar Athlete of the Year status as the best individual finisher at the NCAA Championships who earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.30. The senior nursing major won St. Scholastica’s first NCAA Division III National Championship of any kind last November. In track and field, Johnson took top honors in the 5,000-meter run at the UMAC championships, finishing in 18:45.31.

Kyle Grote – The senior catcher at the University of Minnesota, Morris appeared in 30 games this season for the baseball squad, starting in 28. The North Branch graduate had 13 hits, a .316 on-base percentage, 11 RBIs and 11 runs. Grote also had five stolen bases and a .973 fielding percentage. The Cougars finished 15-19 overall and 10-11 in the UMAC to finish fourth in conference standings.

Jacob Borash – The junior goalkeeper for the University of Minnesota, Morris soccer team was named to the UMAC Second Team for his 2013 season. The Harris native (North Branch High School) started and played in 14 games. The Cougars went 12-9-1 overall and 11-3-1 in the UMAC. They earned second place in conference standings, behind St. Scholastica.

Trent Holmes – The sophomore midfielder and forward on the University of Minnesota, Morris soccer team started all 22 matches this year. The sports management major from North Branch led team in minutes played and had one goal, one assist,  eight shots and five shots on goal. Holmes also helped the Cougars’ defense record eight shutouts.

Anthony Ceroll – The sophomore soccer forward at University of Minnesota, Morris played in five matches in 2013. The North Branch graduate recorded 76 minutes of action, three shots and one shot on goal. Ceroll also competed on the track and field team, where a highlight of the 2014 season included being part of the 4×100-meter relay team that took first in a time of 43.73 at the UMAC outdoor championships in early May. The relay win earned Ceroll All-UMAC honors. The Cougars earned second place at the conference championships, just eight points behind St. Scholastica.

Joshua Fryc – The freshman forward and midfielder for the University of Northwestern-St. Paul soccer team played in 21 games this year. The 6-foot-4 Harris native had nine goals, two assists, 20 points, 63 shots and 33 shots-on-goal as well as four game-winning goals. The Eagles went 10-9-1 overall and 10-3-1 in the UMAC to finish third in conference standings behind St. Scholastica and the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Peter Maring – The 6-foot-4 freshman defender for the University of Northwestern-St. Paul soccer team played 13 games this fall. The Harris native recorded two points in his debut season, including one goal against Martin Luther College.

Garret Pearson – The 6-foot-5 freshman forward for the St. Scholastica men’s basketball team played in 23 games this season, starting for five of them. The biology and pre-med major averaged 4.3 points per game as well as 2.5 rebounds. The Saints went 11-15 overall this year and finished fourth in the UMAC at 8-6 in conference play.

Justin Bosman – The junior punter and defensive back for the St. Scholastica football team from Rush City played in all 11 games for the Saints this season. The marketing major punted 40 times this year and averaged 35.5 yards per kick, including a season-long 62-yarder against Northwestern. Over the course of his three-year career at St. Scholastica, Bosman holds the top-three longest punts in program history for the Saints, including a 72-yard punt in 2011. The Saints went 9-2 overall and 9-0 in the conference to earn first place in the UMAC standings.

Nick Lambrecht – The senior on the St. Scholastica tennis team from Stacy (North Branch High School) closed out his college career with a record of 18-7 this season, including an eight-game winning streak to finish the year.  The biology major recorded 52 career singles wins, which is tied for the third-most in program history and also led the team in singles wins for the second straight season. Lambrecht was a two-time All-UMAC honoree. Lambrecht also became the school’s sixth athlete to earn the accolade of Capital One First Team Academic All-American by graduating with a GPA of 3.96. St. Scholastica earned its third-straight UMAC tournament title this year as they went 22-3 overall and 10-0 in the conference.

Charlie Fernow – The senior thrower on the men’s track and field team at St. Scholastica ended his college career this year. The exercise physiology major from North Branch earned runner-up honors in the hammer throw at the UMAC Outdoor Championships where St. Scholastica took first place overall. Fernow also placed second in the weight throw and third in the shot put at the UMAC Indoor Championships in late February, where the Saints took the team title.

Jeremiah Friday – The senior catcher and infielder for the University of Minnesota, Crookston started in 13 games this year. The Rush City graduate recorded 27 put-outs to contribute to his perfect fielding percentage. The Golden Eagles went 1-47 on the year and 0-36 in the NSIC.

Bayley Ertl – The North Branch native and sophomore forward on the Bemidji State University women’s soccer team played in 16 games this season and scored two goals. The Beavers went 12-7 overall and 9-6 in the NSIC.

Other athletes and players to watch: 

Jami Friday – Bethel University volleyball, 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter (Rush City).

Jake Kostik – Concordia College, Moorhead wrestling, 141-pound junior (North Branch).

Jake Schmitz – Gustavus Adolphus College football, 6-foot-4 freshman offensive lineman (North Branch).

Zack Sundly – St. John’s University football, 6-foot running back from Harris (North Branch).

Banjamin Besch – St. Thomas University track and field, pole vaulter (North Branch).

Ken Broden – University of Minnesota, Morris track and field, senior mid-distance runner (North Branch).

Lane Noyes – College of St. Scholastica track and field, senior sprinter (North Branch).

Max Maher – St. Cloud State University) freshman pole vaulter (Rush City).

 

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