From Mainstreet to Dinkytown: Ridgewater College hurler recently signs to pitch for the Minnesota Gophers

When it came to picking a college coming out of high school at Sauk Centre, Ethan Vogt couldn't help but follow the family line -- at least the male side. It was a straight line -- if not a straight road -- from the Vogt dairy farm near Padua to ...

When it came to picking a college coming out of high school at Sauk Centre, Ethan Vogt couldn't help but follow the family line -- at least the male side. It was a straight line -- if not a straight road -- from the Vogt dairy farm near Padua to campus in Willmar.

His father, Ken, had won a national championship for Roy Minter at 190 pounds in 1972, then went on to play football at the University of New Mexico.

Older brother Aaron placed third in the national tournament in 1999, then played two years of baseball at Dakota State.

"I knew dad won a national championship and Aaron was an All-American," said Ethan. "I knew the school and was comfortable with it."

Ethan was acquainted with the Ridgewater coaching staff, including wrestling coach Jesse Nelson and baseball coach Dwight Kotila. Football coach John Vraa also had gone after the three-sport prep star for the Sauk Centre Mainstreeters.


Lucky for Kotila, Vogt had only an average spring his senior year of baseball.

"He had great springs his sophomore and junior year but maybe because he was playing a lot in the field, too, he didn't pose big (pitching) numbers as a senior. Otherwise, he would have ended up at a Division II school most likely," said Kotila.

A week ago Vogt -- no longer under the radar -- signed with the Minnesota Gophers. He will receive a scholarship that will pay one-fourth his tuition, no small figure at today's rates.

When the Gophers tap you on the shoulder, it's a country ballplayer's dream. "I'm pretty excited," he said.

This summer, Kotila called Gophers assistant coach Rob Fornasiere. He alerted him that he had a big, strong right-handed pitcher that was having a stellar summer throwing for the Thunder Bay Bordercats of the Northwoods League. He would be pitching at St. Cloud soon. Fornasiere like what he saw and sent pitching coach Todd Oakes up later to take a look.

"What impressed them," said Kotila, "was that he can throw any pitch at any time for a strike. He has great command of the strike zone. His velocity (86-87 mph) will get better when he gets on their weight program and isn't cutting weight for wrestling."

Last spring Vogt went 10-1 for the Warriors, including 2-0 in the NJCAA World Series. He walked 14 batters in 71 innings (fanning 73).

He's nearly 6-3 and will weigh a taunt 197 pounds shortly into the wrestling schedule. He finished fourth in the national tournament last winter.


"I think being a wrestler had made him mentally tough," said Kotila. "The discipline he's learned in wrestling gives him the confidence to get himself and his team out of trouble."

At Sauk Centre, Ethan wrestled for his father, winning a state title his junior year. Ken, who milks about 80 Holsteins and farms 280 acres with Aaron helping, retired as head coach in 2004 after 28 years.

Wrestling coach Nelson on Ethan: "He's composed, he keeps his focus; he's the guy you want on the mat when the match is on the line."

Ethan plans to enter the agricultural program once Minnesota, a campus he also knows since his only sister, Ann, is a UM graduate.

Few Warrior athletes have completed their eligibility with the Gophers. One that did is running back Tommy Walthower, who shows up as a Minnesota letterwinner in 1971-72.

On the fly

* In the last eight months, the college here has produced an NJCAA Division III champion (wrestling) and two national runners-up (baseball, volleyball). Also in that time frame, both basketball teams reached the state championship game.

* Willmar football loses 22 seniors, including most of the receiving and running back corps. But there were 27 underclassmen on the roster, including 15 who got considerable playing time.


* Coach Terry Horan (WHS '85) has guided the Concordia Cobbers (9-1) back to the NCAA Division III West Region playoffs. It's the first consecutive nine-win seasons and also the first consecutive playoff appearances in the program's history. The Cobbers will host Coe College at noon Saturday.

* Ridgewater College volleyball coach Val Swanson and her stepson, Joe Sussenguth, each accepted runner-up trophies on Saturday -- Val at the NJCAA Division III nationals and Joe at Class AA state tournament where Minneota was second to Bethlehem Academy.

* Stephanie Bomstad (WHS '02), who coaches the divers at Fargo South, enjoyed North Dakota state meet success with her girls taking first and third.

* Alyssa Dahl (WHS '05) had 21 assists and 15 digs as Concordia (21-5) lost 3-1 to Carleton in the NCAA Division III regional at St. Thomas. Dahl, who averaged 5.5 assists per match, now heads for the rink to join the Cobbers' hockey team.

* Gustavus Adolphus senior Ashley Cronen (WHS '02) finished 15th at the NCAA Division III regional cross-country meet in Waverly, Iowa, Saturday earning all-region honors.

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