Wednesday was a busy day for several high school athletes and their pens as the autumn letter of intent signing period begins.
Renee Sladek (Merrill - committed to Northern Illinois)
A number of girls basketball players signed their written commitment today, including Merrill's Renee Sladek who will play for Northern Illinois next year.
The senior made a verbal commitment to the Division I program months ago. But Sladek says it's great to make it official after dealing with a torn ACL in the past year.
"There's always like doubt. What if I'm not good enough? What if all of these things?" Sladek said.
"It's like I committed but this was the final step showing that I'm actually going there. It feels good. Going to the next level is just very satisfying I would say and just knowing that your hard work has paid off and knowing that you can keep playing after high school is a good feeling."
Dawn Leland (Merrill - committed to Minnesota-Crookston)
Sladek's teammate also signed her letter of intent today. Dawn Leland will play basketball at Minnesota-Crookston where she'll study natural resource management.
Minnesota-Crookston enrolls approximately 1300 students. And Leland says that's just the right size for her.
"I went and visited and I like the campus and I didn't really want to go to anywhere big," Leland said.
"They're just a little bit smaller than Merrill so it's what I'm used to and I love playing the game so much and I probably would cry every day if I couldn't play."
Mary Sigler (Assumption - committed to Regis University)
Another hoops star from the area is taking her talents to the next level. Assumption's Mary Sigler inked with Division II Regis Univeristy in Boulder, Colorado.
Sigler led the Royals to the program's first WIAA state title last March. She says that Regis has been on her radar for awhile. And she has high expectations for when she arrives on campus.
"I kinda looked them up and I wanted to go there," Sigler said. "I've been wanting to go there for awhile and then I emailed them and they came and watched me in South Dakota at one of my AAU tournaments. We'll have to see how it goes but I definitely want to be an impact player."
Jaime Pitt (Amherst - committed to Winona State)
Jamie Pitt received a cake in honor of her big day. The Amherst senior is headed to Winona State next year to play basketball.
Pitt says it wasn't a tough decision at all as Winona State was the first school she visited. She says she instantly fell in love with the campus.
"It's nice. It's been crazy. It feels so long ago that I actually verbally committed," Pitt said.
"Now it's nice to sign and I look forward to keep going with it and I just had my official visit last weekend and it was a lot of fun. I got to stay with the team and get to know everyone. I'm looking forward to it."
Kevin Bolder (Tomahawk - committed to St. Cloud State)
Tomahawk pitcher Kevin Bolder will be taking his strikes to Division II St. Cloud State.
Bolder has been a force for the Hatchets on the diamond, helping Tomahawk earn a number one seed in last spring's playoffs.
Bolder says he went to a showcase at the school and knew almost immediately that he wanted to be a St. Cloud State Husky.
"Right away, the amount of interest that they showed, I was like 'wow'. They said that they were going to offer me a scholarship," Bolder said.
"Loved the campus right away, knew people who went there in the past and knew that it was a good school. As soon as I went there I loved it. It's a good fit for me and it's got everything that I would want."
Cal Giese (SPASH - committed to St. Cloud State)
SPASH had the privilege of honoring three signees today. Cal Giese is also headed to St. Cloud State for baseball.
The left-handed pitcher committed to the Division II program following an undefeated season at SPASH as a junior, helping the Panthers get to the state championship game last spring.
Now he's ready to take his game to the next level.
"It's really exciting. I've been looking forward to this day for a few months now," Giese said. :I verbally commmitted a couple of months ago, or a couple of weeks ago to St. Cloud State and it's really exciting for me. Now I can just enjoy my senior year."
Austin Schulfer (SPASH - committed to UW-Milwaukee)
Giese's teammate, Austin Schulfer, is staying in Wisconsin for college and signed with UW-Milwaukee.
The SPASH senior thought about going out of state to play baseball but Schulfer says he'd like to have his family watch him on the field as often as possible.
The right-handed pitcher chose UW-Milwaukee over Creighton and Illinois-Chicago.
"It's a big decision in your life. Where to go to school and then on top of that pick a place where you can grow as an athlete and as a person and surround yourself with coaches and players," Schulfer said.
"In the end, I kinda went back to Milwaukee, on my second visit in the winter and I kind of found it as home there."
Trevor Thomas (SPASH - committed to Marquette)
Completing the trio of recruits from SPASH is Trevor Thomas, who will play golf for Marquette.
The senior made his decision during the summer, choosing the Golden Eagles over Akron, Butler and Michigan State.
Thomas made it to the state meet last spring, finishing in a tie for 14th. He looks to improve on that in his final season before moving on to play in Division 1.
"I have friends on the team so I'm not going in completely blind. It's comfortable there. But the program is really on the up," Thomas said.
"We just took second down in South Carolina. One of our teammates won it individually. So it's really on the up and we're improving nationally. "
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