Area athletes ink National Letters of Intent on Signing Day

Eight area athletes signed with D1 or D2 schools Wednesday
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 8:27 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - It’s always a special day, but for ten area athletes, it became a reality Wednesday as that collection of high schoolers signed National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at D1 and D2 colleges.

First, at Wausau West, Brandt Rice inked his letter to continue his football career at Wyoming. Rice, a unanimous All-Valley selection last year, chose Wyoming from among 20 schools. To him, Wyoming just felt like home.

”A lot like here in Wausau, which kind of made if feel a little more like home for me,” said Rice. “That was a big factor in the decision.”

Another Valley football standout made his commitment Wednesday as Wisconsin Rapids’ Connor Achey signed with Augustana. The reigning Valley Defensive Player of the Year said this is a dream come true.

“I never thought it’d work out this way, but everything went better than I could’ve expected,” said Achey. “No injuries, nothing like that, all the accolades. It was a great season. A good way to go out. Felt happy that I have a place to be the next four, five years.”

Also at Wisconsin Rapids, cross-country standout Kate Schaeffer will be headed to UW-Green Bay to continue her career. To her, she felt like she was welcomed in right away by the team in Green Bay.

“The coach was just really, like homey, personable,” said Schaeffer. “He’d ask me about myself, and like, my personal life a lot more, not just cross country so I knew that I’d be comfortable welcoming into the sport.”

Elsewhere in the realm of cross country, Athens’ Connor Sheahan will continue his cross country and track career at UW-Parkside. He’s stoked for college, but it is also looking forward to one last season of track in Athens.

“It’s pretty surreal that everyone came out and supported us,” said Sheahan. “The career’s been pretty fun. We still got a track season left so I hope we can make that a good one.”

Sheahan wasn’t alone in putting pen to paper at Athens. Fellow track star Aiden Janke signed to continue his stellar throwing career at UW-Milwaukee. The double-entered state participant already has two sisters at UW-Milwaukee, something he said factored big into his decision.

“Family...that was a big deciding factor for me and just their program overall,” said Janke. “I really like the coach and the other throwers really made me feel like I was a part of the team already and I just had a nice time when I was down there.”

Keeping with the track trend, D.C. Everest senior Maria Selting will continue her cross-country and track career at Minnesota-Mankato. It isn’t just athletics that Selting is ecstatic for. It’s the entire college experience.

“I’m so excited right now,” said Selting. “Honestly, for the last couple of months, I’ve been looking into things. I’ve been so excited just looking at dorms and...I just can’t wait. I’m so excited for track and just to continue my career.”

Selting won’t be alone in Mankato. Colby’s Willow Oehmichan will join her on the track team, taking part in the pole vault. It’s a joyful moment for Oehmichan knowing she can continue doing what she loves.

“It’s super exciting just because, in the pole vault, I just want to keep getting better,” said Oehmichan. “It’s like another four years that I get the opportunity to keep making more memories and experiences and making more friends.”

Also at Colby, Caden Healy signed his letter Wednesday evening as well. He’ll continue his football career at linebacker/corner for Minnesota-Duluth. As he looks back on his Colby career, he’s thankful for all the wonderful moments.

“It means a ton,” said Healy. “As a team, we were always at the top. We brought a ‘chip home that’s important. Beating rivals that was very important to me and just constant competition so, just awesome.”

In Wittenberg-Birnamwood, Reese Rogowski signed a letter of intent to run track and field at North Dakota State. David Gauderman signed his letter of intent to play football at University of Minnesota-Duluth.