North central Wisconsin high school athletes sign NLI’s for Signing Day

13 area athletes sign to compete at the Division 1 level
Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 7:27 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - 18 north central Wisconsin athletes signed their National Letters of Intent to play collegiate sports at the Division 1 or Division 2 level Wednesday on National Signing Day. 13 of them will be competing at the Division 1 level.

Starting at D.C. Everest, the Evergreens had a staggering seven Division 1 athletes signing. Easton Cooper will be wrestling at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Nate Langbehn will play baseball at Wichita State, Marisol Swenson will swim at UW-Green Bay, David Mayer will swim at the University of South Dakota, Blake Postler will run track at Bradley and Jenna Baumann will play soccer at Wisconsin as well as Sara Mlodik in cross country and track.

The lengthy list is a testament to the talent D.C. Everest has developed.

“I think it’s awesome,” Cooper said. “I think our programs are getting better and better every year and honestly I hope next year we have eight and it keeps getting bigger.”

“It really sets the standard here at Everest. It really shows that Wisconsin, we’re a good athletic state,” Langbehn said. “A lot of people sleep on Wisconsin, but I think we’ve produced some very good athletes here and I’m excited to show everyone what we can do.”

Moving on from D.C. Everest, Mlodik will have a familiar face as her teammate at Wisconsin. Northland Pines’ Nora Gremban is heading to Wisconsin after claiming a state title in cross country.

“I’m just so grateful. I wouldn’t have been able to do all that without my coaches and my family and also my teammates and my friends for always supporting me, so it’s just great for everyone to show up here today,” Gremban said.

Another state champion will run at the Division 1 level, with Chequamegon’s Autumn Michalski signing to run for Oklahoma State. Michalski broke the state record by 50 seconds in Division 3 at state cross country.

In SPASH, two runners from their Division 1 state title team are running at Division 1 colleges. Bode Erickson will run at Liberty, while Aloysius Franzen will run at Minnesota. The pair not only helped SPASH win state, but they are close friends as well.

“There’s not a lot of people that go D1 and I’m so grateful for a best friend that’s also going D1,” Franzen said.

“[Franzen’s] been my brother for the last two or three years and it’s super, super cool just to do it with him,” Erickson said.

In softball, Wausau East softball star Claire Coushman won’t travel very far for her next destination, signing to play for UW-Green Bay. It’s not just a great day for here, but also her support staff.

“It just means so much. Everybody here has played a role in what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved today and it’s great that they can sit here and watch me, but I’m also thanking them for everything,” Coushman said. “My parents, my friends, all the support, I wouldn’t be here without them.”

In Mosinee, Garrett Shupe will be lacing up his baseball cleats in Fargo as he signs with North Dakota State.

“I’ve been working for this, like my whole life, my goal to play Division 1 baseball, that’s been my goal since I was really little,” Shupe said. “My dad played baseball at Minnesota, it’s always been my goal to follow his footsteps and do something good in college.”

At the Division 2 level, Jett Walters of Mosinee will play golf at the Concordia, St. Paul. He had a lot of support present at his signing, something he doesn’t take for granted.

“It was a really surreal experience. Thank you to all those kids who came out here. It means a lot,” Walters said. “Just glad that the hard work led up to this moment and this is basically what I worked for my whole life.”

At Wausau West, basketball player Kelly Kray will shoot hoops at Grand Valley State, a school she didn’t even know existed until going through the recruiting process.

“I went from not knowing what they were to getting a call about them to going on campus to leaving and knowing it was my dream school,” Kray said. “I think sometimes people think it’s kind of cliché to say when you’re on campus you’ll know, but I left campus knowing that’s where I wanted to go.”

In Marshfield, two athletes ink their NLI. Volleyball star Abby Ongna will continue her career at Winona State in Minnesota. Even after a successful start to her career at Marshfield, she wasn’t initially thinking of playing collegiately.

“I never even thought about playing college volleyball until Coach Sadowsa brought it up to me like Sophomore year and ever since then, it took off,” Ongna said. “When I first went to Winona, it felt like such a great fit. The coaches were so inviting and the players. It just felt like a true family so I just knew that was the right place.”

Fellow Tiger Ayana Bousum will play basketball at Concordia, St. Paul. She’ll also be studying pre-law. The senior is thankful for the support she’s received in her life.

“I’ve had unconditional love and support through this entire thing, from my whole family,” Bousum said. “I have a great family. I have great people around me. I have great friends that have really pushed me and made me who I am.”

Finally, Antigo’s Kenzie Wisbroecker will take her sensational jumping talents to Winona State for their track and field team.

NewsChannel 7 wants to congratulate all of the athletes who signed their National Letters of Intent to play sports at the collegiate level.