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De Pere athletes to sign National Letters of Intent

DE PERE – On Wednesday, Nov. 11, four De Pere High School seniors – Norah Balthazor, Brianna Geurts, Hannah Welch and Jonathan (J.P.) Gauthier – will sign their National Letters of Intent to play collegiate athletics.

Norah, the daughter of Ted and Jennifer Balthazor, committed to Division I Butler University to play tennis.

She is a two-time WIAA state tournament qualifier at No. 1 singles and boasts a 62-10 high school record.

As a junior, Balthazor won a sectional title and placed fourth at state, finishing 38-4.

She was also first-team all-state, the Manitowoc Sectional champion and the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year.

Balthazor went 24-6 as a freshman and won two matches at state.

She was named first-team all-conference and second-team all-state.

Balthazor didn’t play high school tennis as a sophomore.

She has competed in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for seven years and currently is ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin in her age group.

She has win-loss records of 433-278 in singles and 52-39 in doubles.

Balthazor is also ranked No. 219 in the nation.

“It’s a coaching cliché to rave about an elite athlete’s work ethic, but it’s unavoidable in Norah’s case,” De Pere head coach Dave Reinardy said. “From an early age, she has immersed herself in the kind of deliberate practice that produces excellence on the tennis court. It’s a rare day that doesn’t find Norah participating in a private lesson, drill group, agility training, a match against a top player or a USTA tournament. Equally impressive is her on-court demeanor. No matter the circumstance or pressure, Norah keeps her cool and is unfailingly sportsmanlike. In addition to all her accomplishments, she has been a great role model and teammate.”

Brianna, the daughter of Brian and Colleen Geurts, will attend Division I University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee and play volleyball.

A 6-foot-1 outside hitter, Geurts is a three-year letter winner for the Redbirds, having played on the varsity since her freshman year.

She earned second-team all-conference honors as a sophomore and first-team all-conference as a junior.

Through three seasons, Geurts has racked up 643 kills, 103 blocks, 270 digs and 91 aces.

“The De Pere volleyball program is excited to see Brianna continue her career at the Division I level,” head coach PJ Brocker said. “She’s gotten to this level with lots of hard work and a desire to improve. Since beginning her varsity experience as a freshman, she’s proven to be an invaluable contributor to the team and a great example for all future players. We’ll miss the leadership and experience she’s brought to our program.”

Hannah, the daughter of Jennifer and Chad Welch, will play women’s soccer at the University of Sioux Falls, a Division II school in South Dakota.

Welch, a midfielder, tallied 13 goals and four assists during her first two varsity seasons at De Pere.

The spring 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hannah has been an incredible addition to the soccer team since her freshman year,” head coach Andy Steger said. “She has a true love of the game, a deep desire to always get better and has scored some great goals during her high school career. She has worked tirelessly to become a strong, physical player with excellent technical abilities. She can score from distance with either foot, which makes her a dangerous player. She’s become a player you can’t take off the field because she can make a difference at any moment.”

Steger also said Welch has been a manager for the boys’ soccer team and has put in many volunteer hours for the soccer booster club.

J.P., the son of Patrick and Anissa Gauthier, will play baseball at Division I Illinois State University.

Gauthier, a right-handed pitcher, went 3-2 with a 3.61 ERA as a sophomore in 2019.

He struck out 40 batters in 31 innings pitched, and opponents hit only .236 against him.

At the plate, Gauthier batted .317 with 10 runs scored, eight RBI, four doubles, one triple and one home run.

The Redbirds finished 18-7 and advanced to a WIAA sectional.

“As a sophomore, J.P. was a big contributor to our team,” head coach Bob Van Rens said. “He played first base and was our No. 2 pitcher. This past season, J.P. would have moved to shortstop, but the season was canceled due to COVID-19. He has a solid glove and would have been the ace on our pitching staff. He’s matured into a great leader over his years in our program. Illinois State is getting a great player and person.”

Jason Berken, a former Major League Baseball pitcher and owner of the Impact Sports Academy, also has high praise for Gauthier.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with J.P. for the last three years,” said Berken, a West De Pere graduate. “His personal growth on and off the field has been second to none. This comes as no surprise, as J.P. is one of the hardest-working players I’ve coached. Whether it’s extra ground balls, more swings in the cage or additional time in the weight room, he puts in the work. It’s been an honor to have J.P. as a part of the ISA program, and he has set the standard for our athletes moving forward.”

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