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Paonia grads commit to college athletics

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Photo submitted From left, Paonia High School seniors McKenna Hartigan, Emily Pieper and Warren Minerich are joined by coaches Krista Carsten, Tonya Pipher and Brian Mitchem in signing their college letters of intent.

Three Paonia High School student-athletes signed their national letters of intent to participate in college sports on April 24.

Warren Minerich will compete in track and field as a thrower for South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, where he plans to study mining engineering. Minerich was a three-year state qualifying thrower in discus and shot put.

McKenna Hartigan signed to play volleyball at Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb., where she plans to study wildlife biology. A 5-10 middle hitter at Paonia, she averaged 3.2 kills per set her senior year and had 76 total blocks for the season.

Emily Pieper will play volleyball at St. Francis University in Loretto, Penn. where she will study nursing. Pieper primarily played at setter and was also an outside hitter for the Lady Eagles. In her senior year she had just 44 errors in 636 sets and scored on 123 kills.

Hartigan and Pieper were four-year varsity team members and were named to the 2016 Colorado High School Activities All-State First Team. During their four seasons under coach Krista Carsten the Eagles posted a 98-11 record and qualified for state competition all four years.

Of Paonia's 35 graduates, nine committed to playing college sports, including Sophia Anderson (basketball, Colorado Mesa University), Brittany Kendall (softball, Dodge City Community College), Brianna Van Vleet (track, Idaho State University), Colton Godwin (soccer, Adams State College), Dagan Rienks (football, Colorado Mesa University), and Trevor Smith (football, Western State Colorado University).

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