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Caleb Rist commits to Mary

Lakers running back signs NLI Wednesday afternoon

Ryan Ladika/MDN Caleb Rist signs his National Letter of Intent Wednesday afternoon to join the University of Mary.

DES LACS-BURLINGTON – In accordance with Wednesday’s National Signing Day across the country, the Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers’ football team bid an official bittersweet adieu to a crucial cog in the squad’s offense.

After playing his commitment process close to the chest throughout the last year, senior running back Caleb Rist signed his National Letter of Intent in the school’s library Wednesday afternoon to continue his playing career with the University of Mary Marauders.

“I liked right away meeting the coaches, I really liked the connection I had with them,” Rist reasoned. “I liked what they’re doing with the program. Looking at it this year, they’re starting to turn it around and I want to be a part of that. I think that was a pretty big thing for me.”

The 5’10” senior will join a Marauders squad that has seen marked improvement since bringing former four-year Mary starting quarterback Craig Bagnell back into the fold as the seventh head coach in program history prior to the 2018 fall slate.

Under Bagnell, the Marauders produced their fourth straight 1-10 campaign in the former quarterback’s first season back with the team. The program took a positive step, though, to 2-9 in 2019 and produced four wins in its 11 games in 2021 following a canceled 2020 season.

“Just listening to (Bagnell) talk about his program, I think he’s laid a foundation for a lot of success going into the future,” Lakers head coach Taylor Teske said. “I enjoyed having a conversation with him and I think he’s going to do things the right way.”

Rist will bring with him a distinguished high school resume that includes three separate all-conference and all-region honors, three offensive player of the year awards, and a selection to the Blue Gray All-American team, per his Marauders online profile.

He most recently rushed for 1,520 yards and scored 18 touchdowns while adding 117 receiving yards during his senior season. His efforts helped lead the Lakers to an 8-1 regular-season record and a berth in the state quarterfinals following a first-round 14-7 playoff win against Shiloh Christian.

“It’s definitely been a great pleasure, he’s going to be sorely missed going into next fall, but I think he laid a good precedent, along with all the seniors, for the younger classmen to follow and grow up into,” Teske added. “He’s got some younger siblings that I think learned a lot from watching their older brother on the field. He’s going to be sorely missed, but he left a good imprint on the program.”

Though not yet set in stone about plans for his studies off the field, Rist’s preliminary plans are to venture into the world of exercise science, following in the footsteps of his parents. His mother, Kari, serves as a certified registered nurse anesthetist and his father, Jason, sells medical supplies.

Being involved in the healthcare field throughout his life by way of his parents made his post-high school plan relatively simple, and a pre-chiropractic route is where his immediate interest lies.

The loss of Rist’s presence will certainly be felt throughout the Des Lacs-Burlington football program, as his 1,586 regular-season all-purpose yards accounted for close to 61 percent of his team’s total 2,611 yards of offense last year.

The three-year starter loved every second of his tenure with the Lakers, though, and will remember most the camaraderie he had built with his teammates throughout his four years as a member of the varsity squad.

“I have specific memories of coming in after Shiloh and after Velva this year,” Rist recalled. “Just being in the locker room with the guys. It’s been awesome, I’ve loved being here with all the guys, I love the coaches, small town, it’s really cool just to feel the support of everybody in the town. It was pretty cool.”

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