A pair of area athletes are seeing their years of hard work pay off with a chance to take their talents to the next level.
Milton High School senior baseball player Gavin Kilen and Janesville Jets hockey team forward Jonah Aegerter signed letters of intent Wednesday to play their respective sports at the NCAA Division I level.
Kilen will play baseball at the University of Louisville. Aegerter will play hockey at St. Cloud State in Minnesota.
The duo made their choices official with a signing ceremony at the Athlete X Factory in Janesville, a sports training center run by Brad Fitzke for the past 11 years.
Kilen, an infielder, said he has been verbally committed to attending Louisville since age 14. He said he fell in love with the school after attending a camp there and getting to know the coaching staff.
Aegerter said he looked at a number of other schools but felt a connection with the St. Cloud coaching staff. The 17-year-old is in his second season with the Jets and has tallied eight points on three goals and five assists through the first 13 games of the 2021-22 season.
The St. Cloud Huskies compete in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. They are currently ranked No. 1 in the NCHC with an 8-2-0 record.
Kilen is the top-ranked second base/shortstop prospect in Wisconsin, according to PrepBaseballReport.com, and ranks No. 34 in the country at the middle infield positions.
Both Aegerter and Kilen were members of Team USA in their respective sports this year. Kilen played on the 18-and-under team that got to compete in a friendship series against Canada, going 5-1-1. Aegerter played on the 18-under Select team that finished fifth in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, a tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. He tallied two goals in four games at the tournament.
Both athletes said they are glad to make their college choices official.
Aegerter said he likes the idea of being just five hours away. “I have a lot of family that likes to see me play,” said Aegerter, whose ultimate goal is to make it to the National Hockey League.
“One day at a time,” Aegerter said.
Aegerter and Kilen both thanked their families for supporting them as they chased their sports dreams.
Kilen’s mom, Kristine, said he’s played baseball—and received coaching from his dad—since he was 4.
“We’re just so proud of this kid,” Kristine Kilen said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Fitzke said his goal is to see young athletes at his facility support one another like members of an extended family.
“I’m an uncle of many,” Fitzke said with a smile. “It makes me very proud to see the kids I work with reach their potential, and see that their hard work does pay off.”