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College athletics: Minnesota West adds talent to athletic teams

WORTHINGTON -- Four soon-to-be Minnesota West Community and Technical College athletes, all coming from high schools near to campus, were introduced Thursday in Worthington.Michael Preuss of Adrian, King Blanchette of Worthington, Adam Watkins of...

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TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Four new Minnesota West athletic recruits signed at the college in Worthington on Thursday. Pictured are (from left) Michael Preuss, King Blanchette, Adam Watkins and Katherin Ihnen.
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WORTHINGTON - Four soon-to-be Minnesota West Community and Technical College athletes, all coming from high schools near to campus, were introduced Thursday in Worthington.
Michael Preuss of Adrian, King Blanchette of Worthington, Adam Watkins of Mountain Lake Area and Katherin Ihnen of Harris-Lake Park will deepen the Bluejays’ talent reserves in baseball and women’s basketball, and in some other sports, too.
Blanchette is a valuable three-sport athlete at Worthington High School who participated in baseball, football and wrestling. He will bring experience as a catcher to the West baseball team.
Preuss is another three-sport high school athlete (baseball, football, wrestling) who is used as a pitcher and shortstop at Adrian High School. He also plans to play football at West.
As a senior running back/linebacker on the Dragons’ football team he rushed for 853 yards (a 4.1 per carry average) and 11 touchdowns.
Watkins will play baseball at the local college. An outfielder, he is the younger brother of current Minnesota West pitcher/designated hitter Austin Watkins, who was named to the All-Southern Division team last year as a freshman.
Ihnen, a 5-9 post player who averaged 12.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the Wolves in her senior season, plans to participate for West in basketball, softball and volleyball.
Predictably, Minnesota West coaches said Thursday they are excited to have the new recruits on board.
“Community college baseball is about community,” said baseball coach TD Hostikka. “King, I’ve coached him for three years in VFW (baseball). His work ethic - he loves the game. Preuss, he comes from a good program. Coach (Kevin) Nowotny really teaches the fundamentals there. Adam, talking to his coach, he works hard, which is what his older brother does.”
Football coach Jeff Linder was also all-smiles on Thursday, describing Preuss as a “good athlete and great kid.
“Good athletes come from good families, and we want them to stay here in our family,” said Linder, who plans to use Preuss as a kicker while keeping his other options open for now.
“We picked up quite a few (area athletes), and we need to continue to do that,” said Linder.
Women’s basketball mentor Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka will look to Ihnen to be a steadying presence under the basket.
“I’m pretty fired-up. I think she’s going to be one of those kids who’s going to be a real force for us inside,” said the coach. “I think Katherin’s going to find herself with some nice mismatches inside. She’s a rebounding machine.”
Earlier this week, Hayenga-Hostikka added Okoboji High School senior Brooklyn Barnett to her roster. Barnett is a three-year letter winner in softball and a two-year letter winner in basketball who helped lead the Pioneers to a 24-2 record and a state tournament berth. She also lettered for two years in volleyball.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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