Bulletin area athletes sign to colleges

Mounds View High School seniors Jackie Gaworski, Ryan Nickel and Natalie Nowatzke recently signed their letters of intent to attend and compete athletically in college starting in 2017.

High school seniors are allowed to make official their commitment to a future college team starting in early November. Five Bulletin-area residents recently put pen to paper to sign letters of intent. 


Ryan Nickel

Nickel recently wrapped up his senior season in football for Mounds View High School but his sport of choice in college is baseball. He signed his letter of intent to attend and play baseball at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Augustana is an NCAA Division II program and plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The NSIC features 16 schools spread out over five states. Nine of the 16 are located in Minnesota and there are also NSIC schools in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Nickel is a five-foot, nine-inch second baseman for the Mustangs. He is a two-time letterwinner and a two-year starter as he heads into his final prep season. As a junior, he batted .433, scored 18 runs and drove in 15. His slugging percentage was .642 and he stole 23 bases.

Those numbers earned him all-Suburban East Conference honors and he followed that up by earning the Fourth District MVP award as a member of the Tri-City Red American Legion baseball team over the summer.

In his sophomore season, Nickel helped Mounds View reach its third straight state tournament. The Mustangs went 2-1 in the tournament that season and finished as the consolation champion.

Nickel is one of 11 to sign with Augustana baseball during the early signing period.

“Ryan is a great fit for our program and another guy who has been very interested in us from the start of the recruiting process well over a year ago,” Augustana head coach Tim Huber said in a release. “We like Ryan because he can run and steal bases and hits from the left side. He is an athletic guy who has good hands in the infield and a good arm. We told him we will figure out once he gets here if he is an infielder or outfielder in college. His athletic ability will likely allow him to play several spots.”

In 2016, Augustana went 37-17 overall and 26-8 (second place) in the NSIC. The Vikings then went 2-2 in the NSIC post-season tournament.


Jackie Gaworski

Gaworski closed out her Mounds View High School diving career earlier this month by competing at the state meet. A year from now, she will be using her talents at the collegiate level

Gaworski signed to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha and compete for the Mavericks’ women’s swimming and diving team. Omaha, which is how the school’s athletics teams are known, is a Division I athletic program that competes in the Summit League. The Summit League includes nine schools spread out over seven states (Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota).

Gaworski finished fifth in the diving competition at the Class AA state meet held Nov. 16-18 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Her final score of 382.8 put her three points ahead of the sixth-place competitor.

She qualified for the state meet by finishing second at the section meet. The only diver to beat Gaworski at sections was the 2015 state champion.

A year ago, Gaworski competed in her first state meet and finished seventh with a score of 401.25.


Natalie Nowatzke

Nowatzke signed her letter of intent to attend and run track at Winona State University. She is a distance runner for Mounds View High School and has competed in the state meet three times.

Her first trip to state was in 2013 as an eighth grader when she ran on the Mustangs’ state 4x800-meter relay team. A year later as a freshman, she competed at state in the 4x400 and 4x800-meter relays.

Nowatzke also runs cross country at Mounds View.

Winona State is a Division II program and competes in the aforementioned Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.


Josh Gaworski

Gaworski is the older brother of Jackie Gaworski and is switching colleges. A 2015 Mounds View High School graduate, Josh Gaworski played the 2016 baseball season with Century College and will be a sophomore for the Wood Ducks in the spring of 2017.

Gaworski signed his letter of intent to attend and play baseball at Concordia University in St. Paul. Concordia is another member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Gaworski helped Century reach the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association World Series, where the Wood Ducks finished fifth. He went 8-0 with a 3.02 earned-run average over 59.2 innings. He struck out 92 and walked only 18 while earning spots on the NJCAA All-World Series and All-Region teams.

“He has a low three-quarter arm slot with good life on his fastball,” Concordia head coach Lunch McKenzie said in a release. “He can command the inner half of the strike zone while keeping the ball low in the zone.” 

Gaworski was one of three Wood Ducks to sign with Division II college programs. 

“We are very excited for these players to have the opportunity to move on to the next level and play for some great programs,” Century head coach Dwight Kotila said in a release. “They came to Century College with the goal of moving on to a top-level university and through their hard work their goal was reached.”


Sydney Weierke

Weierke is a New Brighton resident who attends Totino-Grace High School. The six-foot-two center is headed to Concordia University in St. Paul to play basketball next year.

Last year as a junior, Weierke earned all-Northwest Suburban Conference honors after averaging 14.1 points, nine points, two assists and two blocks per game.

“Sydney is a 6-2 post player who will be a big presence on the low block,” Concordia women’s basketball coach Amanda Johnson said in a release. “Sydney’s strength on defense is her ability to protect the basket on defense by blocking shots and also being a big-time defensive rebounder. On offense, Sydney has good back-to-the-basket post moves with the ability to hit the open mid-range jump shot.”

Weierke’s father played college basketball at Bemidji State and her sister is a freshman on the women’s team at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter.


Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.


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