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College: Minnesota West announces local signings

WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West coaches were smiling broadly Thursday, and for good reason. An installment of incoming athletes was introduced in the commons area of the Worthington campus, representing baseball, football and women's basketball. An...

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New Minnesota West athletic commitments (front row, from left) Easton Sauerbrei, Eli Gaul, Shawn Hurley, (back) Caleb Tinklenberg, Jonathan Smith and Avery Van Roekel were introduced Thursday. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

 

WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West coaches were smiling broadly Thursday, and for good reason.

An installment of incoming athletes was introduced in the commons area of the Worthington campus, representing baseball, football and women’s basketball. And they were all from the area.

Worthington High School seniors Easton Sauerbrei, Shawn Hurley and Eli Gaul were there at a table, signing on to play with the Bluejays. There, too, was Pipestone Area’s Caleb Tinklenberg and Harris-Lake Park’s Jonathan Smith, demonstrating their commitments to football. And Avery Van Roekel, a star girls basketball player at Hills-Beaver Creek, also showed.

Sauerbrei and Hurley will play baseball at Minnesota West next season, and Gaul will perform on the baseball and football teams.

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Current West baseball coach TD Hostikka, who coached all three of the Worthington teens in summer ball, knows them well.

“I like the way they play baseball. They’re very intelligent players. Their work ethic is very strong,” said Hostikka, who also likes the fact that they’re from the area.

“I’ve wanted to build a program where our local players wanted to stay,” he added.

Van Roekel, a 5-10 guard, scored 1,226 points in her H-BC basketball career and was named to the 2017 Daily Globe All-Area first team.

“I’m excited beyond words (to have her). I really believe she’s one of the best players in the Red Rock Conference,” said West head women’s basketball coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka, who cited Van Roekel’s versatility.

Van Roekel, said the coach, can create some mismatches on the floor. She can post up and can take it to the basket.

“To be honest, I wasn’t really going to play basketball,” Van Roekel said of her decision to come to Worthington. “Then I met the coach and a couple of players.”

Minnesota West football coach Jeff Linder sounded pleased as he can be with his three-player haul -- which he hopes might become more. The baseball players Sauerbrei and Hurley were both important contributors to the Worthington High School team.

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“Jonathan Smith is going to be a big asset. He’s a big guy who can play both sides of the ball. Caleb’s just a great athlete. He’s going to help us in the kicking game, and he’s going to work for us a little bit at quarterback and wide receiver,” Linder explained. “Eli’s got a nose for the ball. He’s going to get into a position that’s more suited to him at outside linebacker. We’re still working on Easton. I’d like to get Shawn out for us, too.

“The good thing is they’re here already.”

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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