5 Bemidji High School athletes sign with college programs across the Midwest
Five Bemidji athletes signed with college programs on Wednesday at BHS -- Cam Justice, Brett Kurschner, Hunter Heim, Seth Newby and Emma Wright. Their destinations span across the Midwest.
BEMIDJI – Cam Justice thought he was headed to Central Lakes College.
The Bemidji High School baseball first baseman initially committed to join teammate Hunter Brodina with the Raiders, setting his initial collegiate path along the junior college route in Brainerd. But recently, a coaching change at Central Lakes catalyzed a change of heart. The BHS senior is headed to Minnesota Crookston instead.
“A month or so after I signed to CLC, our coach, he got a new job at Upper Iowa,” Justice said. “I talked to my parents about it, and I didn’t know this (at the time), but I could reach out to NCAA schools. I knew Crookston watched me a couple of games. I reached out to them, and (the coach) reached right back out and we started talking.
“Then he invited me on a visit. I really liked their campus, their atmosphere. They're breaking every record right now (with) their season, so it was an exciting time over there.”
Now, he’s ready to soar with the Golden Eagles at the Division II level — a high-flying college trajectory he couldn’t have envisioned just a few months ago.
“I'm going there to win,” Justice said. “I want to win a national championship, and I feel like they can do something like that.”
Justice was one of five Bemidji athletes who signed with college programs on Wednesday at BHS. Here are the schools they pledged to attend.
Kurschner, Heim head to MSU Moorhead
Brett Kurschner wasn’t sure college was the path he wanted to take.
“I didn't want to go to college until this season,” Kurschner said. “This cross country season is when I wanted to go to college suddenly, and when I saw running as part of paying for it, that's what really was the driving force behind it. All the other guys around me were like, ‘Oh, yeah, I'm going (to college) to run.’ (I was like), ‘I could get in on that. I'm good enough for that, right?’”
He is indeed. Now, he’ll ply his trade at Minnesota State Moorhead, focusing on distance events – possibly including one that features variable terrain.
“I'm planning on running at least the 8K and the 10K in cross country,” Kurschner said. “That's the big thing I'm looking forward to. But in track, I'm looking for the longer distances like the 5K and probably the mile, the two mile, whatever they offer for longer distances. And I want to try the steeplechase. I've always been told I'd be good at that because I'm always out hurdling everything else while we're running.”
He’ll be joined at MSUM by Hunter Heim, who will wrestle for the Dragons. Heim was a standout for Bemidji’s highly successful team during his high school career, but he knows the road to greatness in college will be paved with years of dedicated intention.
“Wrestling for 12 years, I knew I wanted to carry on with it and continue to wrestle after high school,” Heim said. “And it was just a matter of where I wanted to go and what I could get into, and it seems like Moorhead was the one for me. Their campus was really nice. It was intriguing besides having wrestling. I think it was just the right place for me.
“Going into my first year, I believe I'll probably be redshirting, so there'll be a lot of working out, getting stronger and understanding college technique.”
Despite the challenge, he’s eager to get started.
“I definitely know that college wrestling will probably be harder, but I'm excited for it,” Heim said. “I've always had that drive and passion for it, so I don't think it will change very much.”
Newby, Wright trek out of state
Two BHS athletes decided to roam outside of the Gopher State for their college experience. Seth Newby, who starred in wrestling for the Lumberjacks, will take to the mat at Wisconsin-La Crosse. Emma Wright, who contributed to Bemidji’s offensive attack on the girls soccer team, will play at Iowa Central Community College.
Newby won’t be too far from home, as UW-La Crosse sits on the Mississippi River just across the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. It will still be an adjustment, nevertheless.
“I wanted to stay in the Midwest within driving distance of my family and home,” Newby said. “(La Crosse) had a really good year this year, they had a lot of success on the team. There's not a lot (of college wrestling teams) around northern Minnesota. So I kind of had to look outside of that and just really liked it.”
Wright, who recorded a memorable hat trick against Detroit Lakes in her senior season, will travel to Fort Dodge, Iowa, to begin her college career with the Tritons. Iowa Central won a women’s soccer national championship in 2015.