National Signing Day celebrated in the Northland
Wednesday marked National Signing Day for high school athletes committing to college.
It was a monumental moment for Cherry as Isaac Asuma officially inked his name on his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play basketball for head coach Ben Johnson’s Minnesota Gophers.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you can hoop then you can hoop. You got to put yourself out there to get seen and just be confident in your skills and yourself to be able to play at that level,” Asuma said.
“He can play fast, he can press up, he can defend 94 feet. He can play in ball screens, he can play on and off. He’s got that, just that blue collar football player mentality,” Coach Johnson said.
He was right, Asuma also did play football just finishing his senior season in the Section 7 9-Man title game.
On the court last season, the 6’3” Iron Range junior led Cherry to a fourth place finish in the state tournament. As a senior Asuma was a top three recruit in Minnesota, and 121st in the nation.
The signing festivities continued in Hermantown. Last Friday, Nov. 3 Brook Judnick officially committed to play soccer for the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS).
Then Wednesday, Proctor/Hermantown Mirage girls hockey forwards Izy Fairchild and Hannah Graves each signed their NLI to play hockey for Bemidji State University (BSU).
“It’s a wonderful thing, just knowing that we have the opportunity to go play more hockey that some athletes don’t get. It’s just amazing to think about that,” Fairchild said.
“Of course you make new friendships, but having somebody go in with you that you’ve played with for a long time, it’s like really nice,” Graves added.
The Division I Beavers program is currently home to another Mirage alum, BSU junior Alyssa Watkins.
At Duluth Marshall five Hilltoppers put pen to paper on National Signing Day.
Carter Boos signed with North Iowa Area Community College baseball. Jake Widdes signed with Gustavus Adolphus College football. Ada Skafte signed with St. Catherine University women’s basketball. Ilsa Lindaman is going Division I committing to the University of St. Thomas women’s hockey team.
Mariah Hernesman is keeping her talents local signing with the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) women’s soccer team.
“I’ve always been really in love with the Duluth area, and I just love what the college has to offer for both academics and the sports side of it,” Hernesman said. “Really cool that we get to have a bunch of people signing at the same time. It’s a unique experience and not something we have done before.”
Rounding out the busy day was Superior High School celebrating four Spartans inking collegiate deals.
Two of them were Autumn Cooper, going Division I with Bemidji State women’s hockey, and Kloe Zentkowski inking a Division II deal with Michigan Tech women’s basketball.
“I’m really glad that I’m going there because the coaches, the energy and environment is so welcoming,” Zentkowski said. “I’m nervous obviously to leave, but I know it’ll be a lot like here and there’s really good support systems there.”
“Tremendous support from both my family and my friends. My family, just driving me every weekend to the Cities, to Madison, I mean all over. My coaches as well. So I’m very thankful for them,” Cooper said.
They were joined by fellow Bemidji State commit Alayna DeGraef off to play softball, and University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) tennis commit Sydney Friedrich.
Also on Wednesday, two Solon Springs baseball seniors signed their NLI.
Abe Ahlberg put pen to paper committing to Division II Colorado Mesa University. Kaden Corlett is off to the Division I diamonds committing to St. Thomas.
On the softball side of things, Hibbing’s Aune Boben signed her NLI to play for Northern State University.
Below are more Northland National Signing Day announcements: