College Bound

By John George The growing success of the athletic teams at both Perham and New York Mills high schools means more and more college coaches are coming to Lakes Country looking for future talent. This year's graduating senior class ...

By John George

The growing success of the athletic teams at both Perham and New York Mills high schools means more and more college coaches are coming to Lakes Country looking for future talent. This year's graduating senior class may be the most accomplished yet in extending their careers with success on high school playing fields.

Leading the class is Perham senior Brittany Gigstead, who will be getting a scholarship to run cross country and track at Division I North Dakota State (NDSU).

Gigstead was a member of the 4x800 relay last year that won the 2006 Class A State Track and Field Championship. She finished third in the 800m run at State last year finished fourth the year before. She set the school and HOL Conference record in the event earlier this season.


She has also led the Jacket cross country team to three State Meet appearances.

Gigstead also had a scholarship offer from South Dakota State.

"I chose NDSU because they have a strong track and nursing program," Gigstead said. "I'll run cross country and track, but I like track better. I like the shorter distances," she added, smiling.

NDSU is one year away from full participation at the NCAA Division I level. They will join the Mid-Continent Conference next season and will be eligible for regular season conference meets during the cross country, indoor and outdoor track seasons, but will not participate in postseason conference meets until the 2008-09 season.

She admits it will be a challenge to run at the NCAA Division I level, but the success Perham has had in recent years in track and cross country have prepared her.

"Having run at all the State Meets will help with the nerves," Gigstead said. "It will be fun. Interesting. I'm ready for the next level."

Concordia Connection

If you go to a Concordia College wrestling match next year, you will see several familiar faces. The Cobbers could potentially have four former Perham wrestlers in the starting line-up, and that suits head coach Clay Nagel, just fine.


"Perham's developed a reputation for good, hard working kids," Nagel said. "We think we've brought in some good wrestlers and good kids."

Topping Nagel's recruiting class are the Jackets' Philip Moenkedick and Justin Berns.

Moenkedick is the school's all-time win leader and both wrestlers finished as runner-ups in their respective weight classes at this past year's State Class AA Wrestling Tournament.

Moenkedick chose Concordia because they'd let him play two sports. Not only will he wrestle in the winter season, he'll pitch for the Cobber baseball team in the spring.

He thought about NDSU. They told him he could try out in both sports, but eventually, he'd have to pick one or the other. That's not something he's ready to do.

"I plan on playing both for all four year," he said. "We'll see how hard it gets."

Berns said wrestling with former Jackets was appealing when he chose Concordia, but it was not the deciding factor.

"That will be fun to be teammates with all those guys again," he said. "I think Concordia is going in the right direction."


In addition to Moenkedick and Berns, Nagel will be getting former Yellowjacket Jon Flatau, who is transferring from NDSU. He did not wrestle for the Bison, but Nagel said he's been working out, is in great shape and will help right away.

Tyler Doll, who will be a sophomore at Concordia, is planning on adding wrestling to his schedule as well. He already played for the Cobber baseball team this past spring.

Moorhead bound

A third Yellowjacket wrestler will also be heading for the Red River Valley. Mike Guehna has signed to wrestle at MSU-Moorhead.

Guehna won the Class AA 160-pound championship this past year. He finished his high school career with a 160-51 record.

It also looks like Jacket softball player Kayla Speicher is heading to Moorhead to play for Concordia.

Kratzke going D-II

Heading farther into North Dakota will be Andy Kratzke, who will play baseball at the University of Mary in Bismarck. Mary is now a member of the NCAA Division II Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). With recent expansion, the NSIC will be one of the best D-II conferences in the country.


Kratzke was noticed by the Mary coach at a tryout camp for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Winona. He stayed in touch and wanted to go there ever since.

"I'm ready for Division II," Kratzke said. "We'll get to play and compete with bigger school's while at a smaller campus. That's what I Iike about it."

Small schools

Attending smaller four-year schools will be Kourtney Johnston and Logan Schultz.

Johnston will be on the gymnastics team at Winona State. She is the 2006 Class A State All-Around and Uneven Bar champ. She also won three Mid-State Conference All-Around titles and a Section 8A All-Around crown as well and leaves Perham as the school's most decorated gymnast.

Logan Schultz will play basketball at St. Scholastica in Duluth. Schultz was a 2007 All-Conference honoree and Jacket Award winner.

Brainerd bound

Nick Kiphuth (football) and Brandi Cresap (basketball) will be playing at Central Lakes College in Brainerd next fall.


Several Eagles moving on

Four New York Mills seniors are also planning on taking their athletic skills to the next level.

Drew Schultz will be suiting up for legendary football coach John Gagliardi at St. John's University.

"St. John's was just the right fit," Schultz said. "The coaching staff is amazing and the school was exactly what I was looking for."

SJU has a long tradition of football excellence, and not cutting players, making for tough competition for playing time.

"Hopefully I can come in and compete," Schultz added. "In the future I would like to become a contributor on a team working towards a conference championship."

He's looking forward to the jump from Minnesota Class A football to college.

"I really look forward to the chance to play at a higher level," Schultz added. "While I'm at St. John's hopefully we can have success and my ultimate goal is to help them win another national championship!"


Heading to Jamestown College will be Kenny Szymonowicz to run track. He recently set the school record in the 200m dash.

"I am looking forward to a challenge that is unmet in high school athletics," Szymonowicz said. "I am looking for a higher level of competition that will challenge me to better myself drastically to stay on top. High school challenges an athlete some, but a college level athlete is challenged by every college in the nation, not just the surrounding schools the next town over. At college I will be competing to represent myself and my college."

Community college bound, for now

A pair of Eagle Athletes are heading to two-year schools to continue their careers. Jason Burg, arguably the most decorated member of Mills' 2007 class, is planning on going to Ridgewater Community College to compete in football and wrestling.

Kristina Boe will be attending Itasca C.C. to play volleyball.

"I chose this school because I could play volleyball and I got accepted into a class act program for the degree I want to go into, which is special education," Boe said. "My expectations in college is to do very good in volleyball and to stay on task and get very good grades."

College worthy

Lady Eagle tracksters Sada Thompson and Ashley Hagen are planning on walking on to college rosters next year. Thompson is planning on attending Jamestown College. Hagen is going to MSU-Moorhead.

Several Perham graduates are capable of playing at the next level. Isaac Stoll (baseball), Nathan Lillis (track), Nikki Mattfeld (golf), Brian Schroeer (football) and Kyle Christopherson (wrestling) were undecided, according to their respective coaches.

If you know of an area athlete planning on participating in college athletics, or already is, contact us by e-mailing .

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