By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — Hunter Luepke has not even started his senior year at Spencer High School, but he has already made plans for his college years.
Luepke, a two-time first-team all-Cloverbelt Conference running back for Spencer/Columbus Catholic, has committed to play football and attend North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota, in the fall of 2018.
Luepke has rushed for more than 2,500 yards in his three years for Spencer/Columbus, including 1,057 yards last season with 20 total touchdowns.
As a sophomore Luepke was the Cloverbelt Conference Offensive Player of the Year when he had 1,249 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns as the Rockets won the conference title and made it all the way to the WIAA Division 5 state championship game before losing to Amherst.
“They are a really great program,” said Luepke, who plans to study mathematics at North Dakota State but has not decided on a major. “Their facilities, their coaching staff are just great. I love the college too. It’s nice and updated. I think it was a good decision on my part.”
After receiving interest from a number of schools, including Northern Iowa and Wisconsin, Luepke made the decision to commit early to North Dakota State, an FCS (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) powerhouse.
North Dakota State won the FCS national championship five-straight years from 2011-2015. Its quest for a sixth in a row ended in the semifinals last year as the Bison lost to eventual champion James Madison.
Luepke said he was told he may be in the mix at fullback or tight end at NDSU, but nothing has been decided.
“I thought with North Dakota State I’d get more playing time, and it is pretty good competition,” he said.
Spencer/Columbus head coach Jason Gorst said Luepke looks in great shape coming into camp for this season, and he was pleased with Luepke’s decision to further his football career at North Dakota State.
“A lot of different schools were talking to him, coming to see him, recruiting him,” Gorst said. “I think he wants to play for a good program, and he’s excited to play at NDSU.
“He really looks like he’s at a whole other level again. He’s been very impressive in camp. He is bigger than he has been. Overall he looks more athletic. I’m excited for that.”
Spencer/Columbus will take part in a multiteam scrimmage at Owen-Withee on Saturday and opens its 2017 campaign Aug. 18 at Osseo-Fairchild. The Rockets’ first home game is Aug. 24 against Fall Creek.
Paul Lecker is the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.