It’s an exciting time for Hutchinson senior student-athletes as many are choosing where they’ll be going next year to study and, hopefully, join collegiate teams to continue their athletic careers.
Three Tigers recently announced their college decisions, and while two will remain in Minnesota and another is leaving the state, all are joining strong programs and hope to make an impact in the first couple years.
In baseball, Tyler Schiller announced he’ll be joining the St. Cloud State University Huskies next year. Ethan Beffert is moving further to the University of Minnesota Duluth to play for the Bulldogs football team, and Lexi Kucera is heading south to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to swim with a Division I team.
All three took some time with a reporter to discuss their decisions
welcoming to Schiller
Despite being the Hutchinson football team’s top running back this past season, baseball is were Schiller’s true passion lies.
“Since I was a little kid, baseball has been my obsession,” he said. “As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to play it as long as I could.”
When it came to making a decision, Schiller said he visited a few different campuses but found St. Cloud made him feel the most comfortable. From the coaches to the campus, it all felt welcoming, and he likes the close proximity to home.
“And they have a really good, deeply-rooted baseball program,” he said. “So all of those together, it just seemed like a good fit for me.”
Coaches told Schiller they have a plan for him to fit into the outfield after several incoming junior college players graduate.
“I’m planning on redshirting my freshman year, and sophomore year I’ll get more of an opportunity to play,” he said.
Adding to Schiller’s excitement was the news that two friends he has played with on traveling teams that past two years are also signing with St. Cloud, which means he’ll have a couple friends right away when he begins school next fall.
“I’m good friends with both of them,” Schiller said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m really excited about that too.”
first for Beffert
When it came to Beffert’s decision to go to Duluth, his first consideration was actually his studies rather than football.
“They have one of the top-rated pharmacy programs in the nation, and that’s what I’m looking to do,” he said. “I really enjoyed my chem class at school last year, so I’m looking to go into something like that, and Duluth offered more of an academic advantage than other schools.”
Of course when he received offers from the football team as well, he was also excited about joining a team with a strong winning tradition, similar to what he’s grown up with.
“They have a winning record every year and they’re getting into playoffs,” he said. “The winning tradition at Hutch I’ve been kind of accustomed to, so it’s nice to be able to step into another program that wins the way Hutch does.”
Beffert said he’s had several conversations with the coaches, who helped him with the college recruitment process and have discussed future plans for him. While he’ll probably have to wait at least a year to get his first shot on varsity, the team was already coming up with schemes for when he’s ready.
“We did a lot of scheming about what I would be able to do there, and they’re one of the few schools that offers a position I play well, the stand-up end,” Beffert said. “So that was nice, I really don’t have to change what I did in high school.”
Along with academics and the football program, Beffert said he was also looking forward to Duluth because of the amenities it offers as a larger city while still offering a small-town feel.
“The city is really nice and I really like the outdoor feel of Duluth,” he said.
swims Division I
Fresh off three more state championships at the girls swimming meet this past weekend, Kucera is ready to take her skill to the next level by joining the Division I Huskers of the Big 10 Conference.
“There were other schools I was looking at, but when I stepped on Nebraska’s campus I just kind of knew that was where I was meant to be,” Kucera said. “All the coaches and girls made it feel like home in another community, and all the resources they have for student-athletes are amazing.”
Lexi isn’t the first Division I swimmer in her family. Her older sister, Kaylee Kucera, swam four seasons at Iowa State University between 2012 and 2016 and has been a big inspiration for younger sister. And although Nebraska and Iowa are Big 10 rivals, Lexi doesn’t anticipate any hard feelings at family gatherings when she wears her Huskers gear and Kaylee is wearing her Cyclones gear.
“It will be funny. They definitely swim against each other,” Lexi said, “but she’s supported me through it all and has been one of my biggest inspirations. She’s motivating me throughout to, honestly, be better than her. I couldn’t be blessed with a better sister.”
As for where she’ll end up on Nebraska’s roster, time well tell. In high school she’s swam wherever coach Rory Fairbanks has needed her. Her college coaches have said she’ll likely fit in is a sprinter, freestyle and butterfly swimmer, but nothing is set in stone.
“I’ve only really swam like four months out of the year, so I’ve never swam year-round. That’s going to be a big transition, and that could definitely affect where I end up and what races I swim,” Kucera said. “I’m very open to the possibilities and wherever I can help the team.”
As for the 380 mile distance her campus will be from home, Kucera has no concerns and is actually looking forward to seeing the world outside her home state.
“I’ve always wanted to experience somewhere other than Minnesota,” she said. “I always knew I didn’t want to go to college in Minnesota, so I’m very excited for where I’m going to be.”