Wayne State College head women’s basketball coach Brent Pollari (paul – uh – rye) has announced that five high school standouts have signed national letters of intent during the NCAA early signing period to continue their athletic and academic careers at Wayne State College in the 2019-20 school year. Joining the Wildcat women’s program are Awoti Akoi from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Ashley Gustavson of Mankato, Minnesota, RaeLin Jurgens from Parker, South Dakota, Josey Ryan of Papillion and Lauren Zacharias from North Liberty, Iowa.
“We are very excited about the 2019 class that we have signed,” remarked Coach Pollari. “This class brings athleticism, versatility and depth to our program. We look forward to what each individual will bring to our team on the court, in the classroom and in our community.”
Awoti Akoi is a 6-2 center from Sioux Falls O’Gorman High School where she is a three-year letter winner and two year starter for the Knights. Last season, she earned All-Metro Conference First Team honors and helped O’Gorman to a 17-7 record and sixth place finish in the Class AA State Tournament averaging 5.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game. As a sophomore, Akoi helped O’Gorman win the South Dakota AA State Title.
“Awoti brings length and athleticism to our center position,” said Pollari. “She can change a game with her defense and rebounding and has really developed her offensive skills.”
Ashley Gustavson is a 5-7 shooting guard from Mankato West High School in Minnesota where she is a five year starter in soccer and four year starter in basketball. Last season as a junior, Gustavson averaged 9.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game despite missing eight games due to illness and helped her team reach the Minnesota State 3A Tournament for the first time in school history. She earned All-City honors and was All-Big 9 Conference honorable mention. During her sophomore season, Gustavson accounted for 14.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. In soccer, Gustavson scored 65 career goals and played in three state tournaments while earning All-Big 9 Conference honors four times.
“Ashley is a very athletic guard who has had success on the court and on the soccer field,” commented Pollari. “She will fit well in our program with her competitive nature.”
RaeLin Jurgens is a 5-10 forward from Parker, South Dakota (Parker HS) who is a five-year starter in basketball and six-year letter winner. As a junior, she produced 12 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots per game to earn All-Big East Conference honors. Jurgens averaged 8.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game as a sophomore while helping Parker to a sixth place finish at the South Dakota Class B State Tournament. In volleyball, she has played on four state tournament teams for Parker and was a member of the Class B State Track championship team in 2017.
“RaeLin is a strong, hard-nosed forward who can extend the defense with her shooting range,” said Pollari. “her physical play will be a great fit for our defense.”
Josey Ryan is a 5-7 guard from Papillion-LaVista High School who is a three year starter in basketball and soccer. Last season, she averaged 11 points, 5.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game to earn Second Team All-Metro Conference honors to go with Class A honorable mention All-State while helping her team reach the Class A State Tournament with an 18-8 record.
“Josey is a versatile guard who does a little bit of everything,” stated Pollari. “She has a very high basketball IQ and is capable of doing whatever her team needs to be successful.”
Lauren Zacharias is a 5-5 point guard from Iowa City West High School in Iowa where she is a four-year starter. Last season, she averaged 9.7 points, 3.96 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game while helping her team win the Iowa Class 5A State Title. In the title game vs. Iowa City High, Zacharias scored a team-high 15 points and led her team during the season with 41 3-pointers and was named to the Iowa Class 5A All-Tournament Team.
“Lauren is a competitor and play-maker at the point guard position,” said Pollari. “She has a winning mentality and fits our system well.”
Wayne State is an NCAA Division II school located in Wayne, Nebraska and competes in the 16-team Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Wildcats are off to a 2-0 start this season and have won 20 or more games seven of the last 10 seasons.