Oconto Falls athletes announce college decisions

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All nine Panthers are involved with spring sports
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Nine Oconto Falls High School athletes made their college decisions official on Friday. From left, back row, Sammy Shallow, Josie Tolzman, Emily Gonnering, Catt Moeller and Katelyn Albrecht; front row, Aaron Gonnering, Dakota Carriveau, Kade Brabant and Brent Wolf will all compete at the college level. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

The future became a little more clear for nine Oconto Falls High School senior student-athletes on Friday when they signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers in front of family and friends.

Four of the nine athletes will participate in track and field at the collegiate level. Catt Moeller will compete for University of Wisconsin-Platteville, while Brent Wolf joins UW-River Falls. Twins Aaron and Emily Gonnering will join St. Norbert College’s team.

Dakota Carriveau and Kade Brabant will play collegiate football, doing so at the same school as they will play at UW-Stevens Point.

Sammy Shallow will join the Carroll University women’s basketball team, while Katelyn Albrecht and Josie Tolzman will play softball in college — Albrecht will play for Concordia University, while Tolzman is headed to St. Norbert.

Each athlete had a different road to choosing a college to compete at, but each one looked relieved to make their decisions official.

“For me I think it’s really cool to get to keep working on myself personally,” Emily Gonnering said. “I get to do these really cool workouts and have fun with that but also meet a bunch of new people that I would never have otherwise.”

“It makes me really happy because I’ve really enjoyed playing basketball. It’s so fun. It’s one of my favorite sports and is something I love to do,” Shallow said.

Carriveau and Brabant will not only continue to be teammates in the coming years, but also reunite with Barry Derickson. The former head coach at Oconto Falls serves as UW-Stevens Point’s defensive lineman coach.

While competing at the next level will be no easy feat, both Carriveau and Brabant will head to campus excited for the challenge and knowing they will have a familiar face to enjoy the experience with.

“Going there with a prior teammate not only makes it easier to have a friend that you know has your back, but boosts my confidence that what we have been doing at Oconto Falls has been working,” Carriveau said. “Now we will both show it on different sides of the ball this fall. I cannot wait until we show the fans back home why we deserve this so much.”

“Having Dakota there is pretty cool to me,” Brabant said. “We’ve been playing football, basketball, baseball and together since we could walk and hold a ball. Recently we both switched to track and are competing there together. It special because we’ve been pushing each other whether it’s on the field, court, track or weight room. It really shows how much it helps having a guy on your team that helps you push yourself to the next level.”

Albrecht’s path to choosing Concordia revolved around her academic future. It just so happened that she had been on the team’s radar too.

“So once I decided that Concordia was the place for me, we reached out to the softball coach to see if I would have a chance of playing on the team,” said Albrecht. “It turns out that coach already knew a little bit about me and my play so he was excited to meet me and get me on the team.”

Wolf took a similar path to choosing UW-River Falls.

“I visited the campus because of an interest in their agriculture program and ended up liking River Falls,” Wolf said. “I talked to their track coach in person and then everything fell into place.”

Competing in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Moeller and UW-Platteville will likely be competing in many of the same meets and invites as Wolf.

Moeller, who specializes in pole vault, said she has known she’d be attending UW-Platteville since November and was drawn to the campus.

“I loved the UWP campus and the atmosphere of it.” Moeller said. “Andres (Young — an assistant coach who will coach Moeller in pole vault) was super welcoming as was everyone else I met and I decided it was for me.”

St. Norbert will feel like home in several ways for Aaron Gonnering — who said he and Emily did not plan on attending the same school.

“We have a cousin (Abbey Gonnering) who is 13 hours older than us who is going there as well, making it truly a family affair,” Aaron Gonnering said. “I’m really happy I’ll be able to experience SNC and all its beauty with my sister. It’s something we’ll never forget.”

Tolzman also noted how St. Norbert’s atmosphere led her there. The pitcher has been involved with the school for the past year and has attended some of the camps offered by the team.

Like every other Panther that signed, Tolzman is still involved in a spring sport. She hopes she can continue to dazzle in the circle as the season winds down.

“I don’t think it (signing) will make a difference because I’m just trying to focus on one game at a time and not letting graduation, finals and college affect each pitch and game,” Tolzman said.