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Hannah Rutten heading to Duluth

Hannah Rutten, a senior stand-out on the New York Mills girls basketball team, signed a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 11 to play basketball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. With Rutten for the signing were Eagles head coach Dave Paavola, right, and assistant coach J.J. Weller. Kevin Cederstrom / EOT Illustrated

New York Mills girls basketball standout Hannah Rutten is taking her game to college.

The 6-foot, 1-inch senior post player for the Eagles signed a National Letter of Intent last week to play basketball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Rutten, who started practice Monday for her final high school season, is excited at the opportunity to play basketball at the next level in Duluth. She first visited the school last year and really liked what Duluth offered academically. Rutten plans to study Biology and feels Duluth's program is good for her.

Later, while on a basketball recruiting trip to visit the coaches and players, Rutten made her choice.

"I picked Duluth because it is the best feel for me," she said after signing last week. "I really liked the school when I visited last year."

Rutten met with one of the assistant coaches, Jess Abrahams, who is from Detroit Lakes and liked the idea of playing under a coach from this area. She's also excited about playing with another recruit, Katrina Newman of Barnum, who is regarded as one of the better Class A players in the state.

Head coach Annette Wiles returns for her second season at the helm looking to build on the significant strides made by her squad in 2008-09. In her first season as head coach of the Bulldogs, Wiles orchestrated the fourth-biggest turnaround of any program in NCAA Division II, as UMD finished 16-12 in 2008-09 after going 4-23 the previous winter.

Rutten does not plan to redshirt her freshman year and is excited about contributing next season. Right now, she figures to fit in as a No. 4 or No. 5 post player, which is essentially what she plays now for the Eagles.

Rutten does recognize the fact she will need to get stronger to play post at the college level.

But for now the Eagles senior wants to concentrate on the task at hand, and that's a good season her final year of high school. Rutten has played varsity for the Eagles since eighth grade.

The Eagles have plenty of experience going into the season with five seniors on the team. Rutten, Betsy Helmeke, Samantha Welter, Kendra McCall and Brittnie Menze have played three-plus years together on varsity and provide valuable leadership.

"I'm excited about this season. It seems like we've been playing so long and now it's finally time for our senior year," she said. "We have a good feeling about this year."

The Eagles open their season at home Tuesday, Dec. 1 against Eagle Valley.