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East Ridge Signing Day: Goertzen, Betz sign NLIs to run in college

East Ridge seniors Emily Betz (left) and Brenley Goertzen signed their National Letters of Intent at East Ridge High School April 15. Betz signed to run at Minnesota, while Goertzen will run at Texas Christian. (Submitted photo)

Brenley Goertzen felt like she was about to run a race April 15.

“I was nervous,” she said.

But Goertzen wasn’t in her Raptors uniform, getting set to take off on on a track or cross-country course.

She was sitting on The Loft stage at East Ridge High School in a purple Texas Christian University light jacket, ready to sign her national letter of intent to run for the Horned Frogs for the duration of her collegiate career.

“It gave me those pre-race jitters,” she said.

One of the only similarities between race day and National Signing Day was the person next to Goertzen — fellow East Ridge senior Emily Betz.

“It was just special that it was just us two,” Goertzen said. “I felt great that we got to represent East Ridge cross-country and track. That was special. Seeing all of our cross-country teammates and track teammates combined and having all of our coaches there was really fun.”

Betz has been there every time Goertzen was set to race for East Ridge ever since the two joined East Ridge’s cross-country team as eighth-graders. And there she was, set to sign alongside Goertzen on the stage in near unison.

Betz signed her national letter of intent to run for the University of Minnesota.

“We both joined together as eighth-graders, and who would have guessed that we’d be signing together as seniors to go run D-I?” Betz said. “That’s pretty cool.”

The two will now run on the biggest stages of the next level both on the track and in cross-country after leaving their marks on the East Ridge cross-country and track-and-field programs. East Ridge’s cross-country team never missed the state meet in the five years Goertzen and Betz were on the roster, both earning all-state honors during their careers.

Goertzen was also a member of the Raptors 1,600-meter relay team that won the Class AA state title last spring.

“I have so many fun memories and the people are just so great, so I’m going to miss everybody so much,” Betz said of her time at East Ridge.

Betz will have a familiar face around at Minnesota, as 2014 East Ridge grad Bailey Ness runs for the Gophers.

Betz wasn’t seriously considering Minnesota at the start of her recruitment, as she planned to move a little farther away from home. But once she visited, she kept getting drawn back. She chose Minnesota over the likes of Wisconsin, Nebraska and Missouri.

“It feels right,” Betz said. “I liked the team, I liked the coach and just the atmosphere of it.”

Betz goal for her collegiate career is to continue to improve.

Goertzen’s is to be a Big 12 champion.

She thinks she can get there, largely thanks to TCU’s distance coach Laura Harmon, who ran at the University of Oregon.

It was Goertzen’s relationship with Harmon, TCU’s placement in the Big 12 and the fact the campus felt like a tight-knit community like Woodbury that Goertzen chose TCU over Michigan in the end.

The two will wrap up their East Ridge careers for the track team this spring before moving on to the next level.

“It was really a relief, because the decision was really hard and it was really stressful,” Betz said of the recruitment process. “It was a relief to just finally have it done and now just focus on the future.”