Rapid City Central seniors Gavyn Strand and Elisabeth Riisnaes look to further their athletic careers in college, as both signed letters of intent Wednesday.
Strand, a point guard for the Cobblers last season, will play basketball for Minnesota West Community and Technical College, while Riisnaes, a midfielder on the Central soccer team, will play at Black Hills State University
Strand looks for college start at Minnesota West
Although Washington, Minnesota, is 400 miles form Rapid City, Strand feels right at home at Minnesota West.
He has a few friends that will play there and the Rapid City area has had a strong history of being recruited by the school, especially under former coach Justin Heckenlaible, who in the 2012-2013 season alone had three former Cobblers on the squad.
"There's Elijah (Williams from Central), who is is supposed to be signing there, Corey Brown and Halin Bad Bear (Pine Ridge) and Coach Lupton (Taylor) is really cool. The overall facility is great," Strand said. "It just looks like I can go there and get better as a player and further my basketball career."
Minnesota West finished 8-17 last season and 3-11 in Minnesota College Athletic Conference play.
A key for the slender 6-foot-1 Strand, he believes, is to get stronger to compete on the college level.
"I just have to get better and I have to get stronger," he said. "I hope to go to BH (Black Hills State University) after two years there (Minnesota West)," he said. "It's way more physical, faster and stronger. When we went there to play with the guys, it is just a different level of intensity. High school was intense, but college is so much more intense. It is insane."
Strand plans to study criminal investigation.
Riisnaes looks to bring winning attitude to Yellow Jackets
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Riisnaes will look to take her experience and the Cobbler's winning ways (6-3-2 last season, state champions in 2016) to BHSU with hopes that it rubs off on the young Yellow Jackets.
She said she is excited to help out a building program. Black Hills State is just 2-49-1 in its first three seasons as a program.
"I know they are still kind of starting out, but I am excited to bring a positive attitude and just bring my skills, and hopefully I can make a difference on the team," she said.
Riisnaes said she just liked everything about the Black Hills State — athletically and academically.
"I really enjoyed the coach (Mike Greco) and his philosophy and how he coaches the game," Riisnaes said. "I really loved the girls there, they are super nice, and the campus and the faculty there were outstanding."
Despite just 50 miles away from home, signing that close to Rapid City didn't play a part in Riisnaes's decision. She just liked BHSU.
"I was also looking at another college that was far out of town. But I ended up just falling in love with the campus at BHSU," she said.
Riisnaes is looking for the challenges of college soccer.
"The key will be knowing the field and knowing your players and how they see the game, and understanding what the best options for success will be in moment-to-moment of the game," she said.
Riisnaes plans to major in graphic design and minor in music.