Northwest College sophomore Jessica Lohrenz will continue her basketball and academic career with South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, South Dakota.
“They have a really good engineering program there and I just kind of had a gut feeling about it when I talked to the coach; he just sounded like a really good guy. It’s a competitive program,” she said.
Lohrenz — who received the 2015-2016 NJCAA region IX academic all-region award — graduated from NWC on Saturday with an associates degree in engineering.
South Dakota School of Mines plays within the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC), “which is really everything that I could have wanted,” Lohrenz said. The Littleton, Colorado, native explained that a lot of Colorado colleges are in the RMAC and so a lot of her away games will be played in Colorado — making easier travel for family and friends to watch Lohrenz play basketball.
“It just fit perfectly and everything worked out.” said Lohrenz.
Lohrenz will be majoring in geological engineering and hopes to someday get a job in the petroleum industry.
“I’m just really involved in politics and I like math, but I want to do something where I can use both,” said Lohrenz of her choice in major.
Part of the reason she decided to go to NWC was because of its engineering program; Lohrenz said many of the classes offered at NWC are traditionally only offered at four-year colleges — not at two-year junior colleges.
“That’s a really good opportunity,” said Lohrenz of the schooling at NWC.
Lohrenz attended NWC for two years, but suffered from a torn ACL her first year.
Because of her injury, Lohrenz will be transferring as a freshman to South Dakota School of Mines on the basketball court. That’s another piece that fit perfectly for Lohrenz, because she will finish her degree in three years.
Lohrenz said playing a sport helps you keep on track in your degree.
“I’ve had a really good time here. Powell has grown on me since my freshman year. I had a big culture shock coming from Denver and you know this year I have really learned to love this area and taking advantages of some of the things I can’t do at home,” Lohrenz said.
One of those things is going hiking in the mountains and not seeing other people. \
Lohrenz also thanked NWC women’s head basketball coach Janis Beal.
“She’s strict — everyone knows she’s strict — but she’s someone that cares about you as a person more than just on the basketball court and she’s helped; I’m leaving here a better person, you know, more than just on the basketball court,” Lohrenz said, praising the coach as a “really good woman.”
“I owe a lot to her for helping me out with South Dakota and everything she’s done for me,” she added.
Coach Beal said she wished she could have Lohrenz for another year athletically, but, academically, she said it’s a smart move for Lohrenz to transfer to Rapid City.
“I think the South Dakota School of Mines is a great fit for her, and I think the coach does a good job and so I am just excited for her and the opportunity that she has,” Beal said.
Lohrenz — who has relatives in this area — is the granddaughter of Ruth Hessenthaler and Jim Lohrenz.