Wednesday was national signing day for high school seniors across the country.
Hopeful athletes looked to continue their sport, from football to soccer to cross country and more, at the collegiate level.
While football powerhouses salivate over landing the next big superstar, most college teams sign recruits behind closed doors and with little fanfare.
Such was the case for Moffat County High School senior Maddy Jourgensen.
Sitting in a room Wednesday morning at MCHS with her parents, coach Todd Trapp and athletic director Richard Wildenhaus, Jourgensen elected to attend Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., in the fall.
Jourgensen will run cross-country and track for Augustana, choosing to leave Colorado to further her running career.
“I have been talking to other schools in Colorado,” she said. “I always wanted to go out of state and (Augustana) was a good choice and a good school.”
Jourgensen said Western State College, Montana State University and colleges from Nebraska, New Mexico and Arizona were on her short list before ultimately choosing Augustana.
After talking with Trapp about her choice, he referred Jourgensen to Augustana, his alma mater, and Tracy Hellman, the Augustana Vikings girls cross-country coach.
Jourgensen visited Sioux Falls after the MCHS cross-country season ended.
“I met the girls and toured the campus,” she said. “I really liked all of it and really wanted to go to a school that was good both academically and athletically.”
Jourgensen said she isn’t scared about moving on to the next level, but knows it will be different.
“I think that college running will be more intense,” she said. “I will have a new team, a new coach and a new way of training.”
During her high school career, Jourgensen ran cross-country all four years, including a trip to the state meet each year. Her best finish was fourth place as a junior.
Jourgensen also ran track the past three years, again qualifying for the state meet each year, and plans to run again in the spring.
In her junior year, she placed fourth in both the one-mile and two-mile races.
Trapp, Jourgensen’s coach in both sports, said he feels her college choice was the right one.
“(Augustana) is a very good school both academically and athletically, two things Maddy succeeds at,” he said. “It’s going to be very competitive for her in both aspects, but it will be a great fit.”
Trapp said the Vikings won’t be disappointed in her work ethic.
“Maddy is willing to work hard, and as a coach, she will do whatever we may say it takes to get better,” he said. “She will put forth the effort needed and won’t miss a day of conditioning.
“I know she is excited and I am excited for her.”
Jourgensen’s mother, Terri, said the whole family is thankful for Trapp.
“We really appreciate what Trapp has done for Maddy,” she said. “He was supportive and helped her with her nutrition and was there for her when she was injured.”
Without Trapp’s help, Jourgensen said she’s not sure she would have found Augustana.
Todd, Jourgensen’s father, said his daughter’s choice was a bittersweet moment.
“I am really happy for (Maddy) because Augustana is a good school academically and it is a great opportunity for her to see different parts of the country,” he said. “It will suck not having her close to home, but I know this is great for her.”
Terri said she and her husband would try to visit Jourgensen as much as possible.
“We are excited for the next chapter of Maddy’s life,” she said. “We will miss her terribly, but we plan on traveling to see her compete.”
With both an academic and athletic scholarship, Jourgensen will receive $25,000 a year, about 80 percent of the cost of attending Augustana.
Jourgensen said she plans to either study nutrition or exercise science.
“(Augustana) has a good running program, but I am going to college to earn a degree and work for my future,” she said. “It’s a good school for running and getting a good education.”
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