Eight Rosemount students sign national letters of intent
National signing days have become important events along the yearly timeline for Rosemount High School sports.
With three signing periods per year, Rosemount is getting used to hosting events at the school's student center. Irish athletes sign national letters of intent announcing where they plan to attend college and which sport they will continue with in their career.
The celebration of signing day is quickly becoming a tradition for Rosemount and last week's signing ceremony was one of the biggest for the school with eight athletes choosing their respective schools.
Irish boys track and field coach Jay Hatleli knows why the Irish are so heavily involved on national signing days.
"The common denominator for all of these athletes is they didn't get here by accident," Hatleli said at last week's ceremony. "These are kids that have done it year round. They don't just show up at the beginning of their sport's season and think they are going to have a great year.
"These guys and girls are working hard when nobody's looking."
Each of them received their time in the spotlight last week as part of the winter national signing day.
Coming off a trip to the state finals last fall, four Irish football players signed letters of intent to play at the next level.
Offensive lineman Joe Bjorklund, a Mr. Football finalist and all-state player this year, signed to play at the University of Minnesota. Andrew Hausmann, deciding between two sports and two Ivy League schools, announced his intention to play football at Cornell.
Mike Lewis signed to play at Augustana and Ryan Link signed with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Shade Pratt singed to play soccer at the University of Maryland. Shane McCallum signed with Augustana for cross country and track.
Brandt Berghuis also will compete in track, signing with North Dakota State. Goaner Deng signed to run at the University of Minnesota.
Hausmann's announcement was the biggest surprise heading into the day. Ultimately, the Irish running back chose to play football at Cornell over competing in track at Harvard. Hausmann's decision didn't involve a national letter of intent or any athletic scholarships.
Ivy League schools don't offer athletic scholarships, but Hausmann's academic achievements have paved the way for him to pick between Ivy League schools.
"Hausmann is Hausmann," Irish football coach Jeff Erdmann said last week. "When you say Hausmann everyone knows what that means. It's quality. In every aspect of his life, whether its choir, band, academics, it's Hausmann."
Hausmann's teammate, Joe Bjorklund might have been the most heavily recruited Irish athlete this time around.
Recruited by several Division I schools, Bjorklund eventually decided on Minnesota and will greyshirt for the Gophers. Like a redshirt, Bjorklund's greyshirt means he will begin his scholarship in the winter instead of the fall.
Ultimately, the coaching change at Minnesota to Jerry Kill is what swayed Bjorklund.
"It played a huge part," Bjorklund said. "I mean, I wasn't getting much recruiting from the old coaching staff. I guess I had to be content with that, but I loved it when (Kill) came around. He called me in the first weekend he was in, for an official visit. I met him then. He amazed me. So, yeah, I want to play for him.
"It's close to home. It's Big Ten football. Can't get any better than that."
He will be joined at the school by Deng, one of the state's top runners
Another runner, McCallum chose Augustana after a late push by several Division I schools in the upper Midwest. A standout senior season for the Irish cross country team was followed by a trip to the Nike regional and national meets where he gained more attention from college coaches.
"Augustana has that small feel," McCallum said. "I won't get lost. They have a great academic program and a great up and coming program for cross country."
Rosemount cross country coach Chris Harder knows the type of talent Augustana is receiving.
"He's a sleeper for this class," Harder said. "There were late-coming Division I schools. (Augustana's) offer shows they mean business. They are getting a Division I talent at a Division II school. Shane will be huge for them."
Pratt was surprised by Maryland's prominence in women's college soccer, especially since she is from Maryland. The Terrapins were the No. 10 ranked team in the nation at the end of the 2010 season.
"It was kind of my last choice," Pratt said. "They asked me if I was signed, because most of the people on my team were committed already. I was late in the process. I went on the visit and it was like a home away from home. I'm not going to get home sick. I have family there. So, I'm really going to enjoy it."
Berghuis will compete in throws at North Dakota State.
"Brandt is one of the most outstanding throwers I've ever worked with," Irish assistant coach Tim Conboy said. "There is something about throwing in college that's different. You go from two throwing events in high school to four throwing events in college. I'm predicting, as is coach Harder, that Brandt is going to be an absolutely top-end hammer thrower before he's done. We think that it's going to suit his speed, body type and explosiveness."
Ryan Link will join former Irish quarterback Chase Vogler in Duluth. Erdmann believes it's a good situation for his former offensive lineman.
"I think all five starters return, but after that they are going to have some flexibility because he has played center before and he can play guard," Erdmann said. "I think those two positions will be good spots for him. I think it will be an absolutely great fit for Ryan."
Called an "unsung hero" by Erdmann, Lewis will join McCallum at Augustana.
While the signing day signifies the next step for each of the eight athletes, Harder knows their time at Rosemount isn't finished.
"At one time or another, each of them have been in track and field," Harder said. "So, things look very good for this spring yet. This signing day is not the end date this year at Rosemount High School."
It likely won't be the last big signing day for the Irish either.