Leaping from high school to college: Athletes perfect balance between sports, studies

Leaping from high school to college: Athletes perfect balance between sports, studies -- Courtesy of Mallory Nelson/Great Falls Tribune (ran July 7, 2008)

This is part of the article which is a four-part series. Going the junior college route Colby Tognetti, a 2006 Lewistown graduate, planned to continue his baseball career at a four-year university until he was approached by Rob Bishop, baseball coach at Miles Community College in Miles City. "He had a great raw arm out of high school, but he wasn't polished enough to play at a Division I level," Bishop said. Tognetti pitched for the MCC Pioneers the following two seasons, and he said it was the right decision. "I went in my freshman year thinking I was pretty good, but it's a whole different game with the speed and the hitters," Tognetti said. Bishop, who has coached at Miles City for eight years, said junior college is the right choice for most Montana baseball players because they are unable to play the sport year-round like many other high school recruits. Tognetti was nervous the first time he played, but eventually those nerves wore off. His professors were supportive as the team traveled to tournaments in Wisconsin and Tennessee. Although it caused him to miss class, Tognetti said baseball motivated him to perform well in school because athletes must meet academic standards to remain eligible. The Pioneers finished the 2008 season ranked 15th in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and Tognetti was named to the Mon/Dak all-conference team with a 2.92 ERA, ranking him 38th among pitchers in the NJCAA. Tognetti graduated from MCC in the spring and will finish his baseball career at North Dakota State. Tognetti said he received calls from schools in Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, but he wanted to stay close to home. "It worked out. I was going to a Division II school, but after junior college I'm going to a Division I school. If you're looking at playing baseball, junior college is the way to go," Tognetti said.
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