SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Big-time SE Minnesota athletes Wohlers, Nelson, Winchell all commit to Winona State

The Winona State athletics department has to be feeling very good about itself after having reeled in star athletes Justin Wohlers (Lake City), Malia Nelson (Dover-Eyota) and Jaci Winchell (Cannon Falls) the last two days as recruits in football, basketball and volleyball, respectively.

092421-LAKE-CITY-PLAINVIEW-ELGIN-MILLVILLE-FOOTBALL-4313.jpg
Lake City’s Justin Wohlers (8) makes a pass during a football game against Plainview-Elgin-Millville on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Elgin.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

It’s been a banner couple of days for Winona State University athletics.

That’s true in respect to the southeastern Minnesota high school seniors it’s been able to draw commitments from in that span.

On Wednesday, Lake City star quarterback Justin Wohlers announced he was committing to the Winona State football program.

Then on Thursday came two more big announcements. Dover-Eyota basketball star Malia Nelson committed to the WSU women’s basketball program, and Cannon Falls volleyball star Jaci Winchell — the Post Bulletin’s Player of the Year this past fall — announced that she would be taking her talents to Winona State.

Wohlers put up video-game-like numbers last football season at quarterback, often throwing for more than 200 yards and rushing for more than 100 in the same game. He finished the season with 1,908 yards passing and 687 yards rushing. He threw for 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions, while completing 62% of his passes.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound senior is also a basketball and baseball star, but suffered an ACL knee injury in the basketball playoffs on March 3. Wohlers will likely be a medical redshirt his first year in Winona as he'll need to recover from upcoming knee surgery.

Winona State finished 7-4 this past season in football and will have a new head coach, Brian Bergstrom having replaced the retired Tom Sawyer. Bergstrom's offensive coordinator will be former Caledonia great and University of Minnesota wide receiver Isaac Fruechte.

120721-CHATFIELD-DOVER-EYOTA-GIRLS-BASKETBALL-0081.jpg
Dover-Eyota's Malia Nelson (23) dribbles while defended by Chatfield's Peyton Berg (21) during a girls basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Chatfield. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Dover-Eyota’s Nelson, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward, was stellar on the basketball court since the season opener. Nelson began with a 41-point game, then immediately followed it with a 42-point game. Both were school records.

Nelson has been one of the most dominant girls basketball players in southeastern Minnesota all season. She averaged 25 points and a rare five steals per game, getting it done with a non-stop approach.

Older sister Madison Nelson also starred at Dover-Eyota, then went on to have a stellar career at the University of Denver before playing professional basketball overseas.

The WSU women’s basketball team finished 12-15 this past season.

110621-zm-cf-vb-0454.jpg
Cannon Falls' Jaci Winchell (1) sets the ball during the Section 1AA championship match against Zumbrota-Mazeppa on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
Andrew Link / Post Bulletin file photo

Cannon Falls volleyball setter Jaci Winchell led the Bombers to the school's first state volleyball tournament this past season.

Winchell, an extremely athletic 5-7, finished the year with 1,116 set assists, 223 digs, 29 blocks and 79 kills. That led to her being named the Post Bulletin’s Volleyball Player of the Year for 2021.

ADVERTISEMENT

Winchell was named both All-State and All-State Tournament team.

Winchell is a three sport athlete at Cannon Falls — volleyball, basketball and track and field.

The Winona State volleyball team reached the national tournament in December and ended with a stellar 28-5 record.

Read more from Pat
Mayo's Spencer Busch and Tej Bhagra cruised to the Section 1AA doubles championship, winning both their matches in straight sets.
(Blooming Prairie, Caledonia/Spring Grove, Chatfield, Winona Cotter, Dover-Eyota, GMLOKS, RACE, Hayfield, Kenyon-Wanamingo/Goodhue, La Crescent, Lake City, Lanesboro/Fillmore Central/Mabel-Canton), Lewiston-Altura, Lyle/Pacelli, Medford, Pine Island, Lourdes, Rushford-Peterson, Houston, St. Charles, Triton, Wabasha-Kellogg, Zumbrota-Mazeppa)
(Blooming Prairie, Caledonia/Spring Grove, Chatfield, Winona Cotter, Dover-Eyota, GMLOKS, RACE, Hayfield, Kenyon-Wanamingo/Goodhue, La Crescent-Hokah, Lake City, Lanesboro/Fillmore Central/Mabel-Canton), Lewiston-Altura, Lyle/Pacelli, Medford, Pine Island, Lourdes, Rushford-Peterson, Houston, St. Charles, Triton, Wabasha-Kellogg, Zumbrota-Mazeppa)

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
What to read next
A scoreboard of baseball games.
Scores of area high school games.
Top performances for area high school players.
A scoreboard of baseball games.