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9 Lumberjack athletes sign with college programs, including 4 with Bemidji State

Nine Bemidji High School athletes signed their collegiate letters of intent on Wednesday, flanked by family members, friends and coaches. It was a haul that demonstrated the depth of the Lumberjacks’ athletic prowess and one that will stock athletic programs throughout the college ranks.

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Nine Bemidji High School athletes signed with college programs on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at Bemidji High School. In the top row, from left, are Carson Maish, Kiera Nelson and Isaac Severts. In the bottom row are Ben Corradi, Hunter Brodina, Cam Justice, Ty Lundeen, Will Zellmann and Dan Clusiau.
Christian Babcock / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – There was a distinct buzz at Bemidji High School on Wednesday.

Nine Bemidji athletes were signing their collegiate letters of intent, flanked by family members, friends and coaches. It was a haul that demonstrated the depth of the Lumberjacks’ athletic prowess and one that will stock athletic programs throughout the college ranks.

The BHS baseball team had six players sign – Ben Corradi and Will Zellmann (Bemidji State); Hunter Brodina and Cam Justice (Central Lakes College); Ty Lundeen (Gustavus Adolphus) and Dan Clusiau (St. Cloud State). They were joined by Carson Maish, who will run cross country at Wisconsin-Green Bay; Kiera Nelson, who will play soccer at BSU; and Isaac Severts, who will join the Bemidji State men’s basketball team.

“Everyone's goal when they start playing is to get to that next level,” Nelson said. “For me, coming out of high school, I was thinking, ‘Oh, maybe I'd be able to go Division III, or maybe junior college.’ But to have the opportunity to play Division II soccer is pretty special.”

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Bemidji senior Kiera Nelson punts the ball in the second half against Rogers on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Clusiau had the opportunity to remain close to home with two of his Bemidji baseball teammates, but a tour of the St. Cloud State campus sealed his decision to venture a little farther.

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“I felt like it was the best fit when I was touring the campus, academically and athletically,” Clusiau said. “And the program has been very successful for the past 15 years. So that kind of played a role.”

Nelson attributed her decision to stay home to a longstanding relationship with Bemidji State women’s soccer head coach Jim Stone, the father of her former teammate Miah Stone and someone whom she had already been coached by in certain settings.

“The way they center their program around their faith, that's a huge thing for me,” Nelson said. "That was something I was really looking forward to in a program. Coach Stone was another huge factor. I had gotten coached by him in the past, and for him to be able to reach out to me for this opportunity to play, that was huge.”

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Bemidji's Dan Clusiau throws a pitch in the fifth inning against Brainerd on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Clusiau was looking for a new experience, and that meant leaving Bemidji.

“There's a lot of cool things,” Clusiau said of SCSU. “There's a bowling alley on the campus. The dorms are really nice. I liked the atmosphere of it. I was just trying to get away from home no matter what.”

Both athletes hope to contribute as soon as possible on their new teams. In Nelson’s case, she will enter a BSU team that features two veteran goalkeepers in Alyssa Stumbaugh and Georgie Harber. It makes the path to early playing time uncertain for Nelson, who will enter the program as a keeper after starring in that role for the Jacks.

“I'm hoping to get on the field as soon as I can,” Nelson said. “There's two absolutely amazing goalkeepers in that program right now, (and there’s) so much I can learn from them. So I'm looking forward to being able to learn as much as I can from them and grow as a player, then hopefully sooner than later be able to get on the field.”

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Bemidji goalies Kiera Nelson (1) and Morgan Myers (0) go in for a hug after a game against Rogers on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Clusiau will have the opportunity to focus on pitching exclusively after also playing the outfield for the Lumberjacks, something that could help him refine his skill set and get on the mound early in his Huskies career.

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“They said that they plan on using me my freshman year,” Clusiau said. “So that's all I know. Being a pitcher only is what I'll be doing. I’ll focus on taking care of my arm better and hitting legs more, because that's how you gain speed. Focus more on pitching and the certain (aspects) around it.”

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Bemidji's Dan Clusiau throws a pitch in the fourth inning against Detroit Lakes on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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