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Three members of Natrona County’s Class 4A state championship football team signed their Letters of Intent on Wednesday to continue their playing careers at the next level.

Quarterback/defensive back Kade Stoner signed with Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota; offensive lineman Kooper Claney signed with Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin; and wide receiver/defensive lineman Jordan Bertagnole signed as a preferred walk-on at the University of Wyoming.

Natrona County’s Michaela Allen also signed to play softball at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, North Dakota.

Bertagnole, a Star-Tribune Super 25 selection, finished his senior season with 38 receptions for 608 yards and 12 touchdowns, including a 16-yard TD catch in the state championship game. The 6-4, 220-pounder also had 13 tackles for loss and two sacks and is expected to begin his UW career on the defensive line.

“This is 100 percent what I want to do,” Bertagnole said. “I’m super-excited.

“After state, I got some film together and sent it out to a bunch of schools. Coach Mesa (UW recruiting coordinator Justin Mesa) reached out to me right after that and when I finally went down for a visit about a week-and-a-half ago that’s when I decided.”

Bertagnole had offers from Montana State, Chadron State, Black Hills State, Dickinson State, Carroll College and Dakota Wesleyan, but the chance to suit up for the home-state Cowboys was one he couldn’t pass up. He’ll join former Mustangs Logan Wilson, Josh Harshman, Brett Brenton and Ben Acres in Laramie.

“It’s great that I will have some NC role models at UW,” he said.

After playing at War Memorial Stadium the past two years in the state championship game, Bertagnole is looking forward to taking the field as a member of the Cowboys in the future.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I think the stands will be more packed.”

Stoner was an all-state selection for the Mustangs despite suffering an ankle injury midway through the year. He ran for 520 yards and seven scores his senior campaign while throwing for 685 yards and seven TDs. In the state championship game Stoner’s 26-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Natrona County a 14-0 lead.

Stoner, who also had offers from Dickinson State and Ripon College, didn’t commit to BHSU until this week.

“It was a last-minute decision,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of offers, but two weeks ago I went (to Black Hills State) for a visit and that kind of convinced me that’s where I should go.”

Stoner said he expects to play safety for the Yellow Jackets.

Claney was one of the anchors for the Mustangs’ offensive line. The 6-2, 220-pounder helped NC lead 4A in rushing and total offense.

“This is a blessing to have this opportunity to go to the next level,” Claney said. “Going to a smaller school will allow me to work on my academics, and the coaches said I could have a chance to start as a freshman.”

Claney, who will study pre-med at Ripon, said the coaches plan to keep him at offensive tackle.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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