The State Patrol identified the deceased as James P. Adams, 20, of St. Paul, Minn.; Paxton M. Harvieux, 21, of Stillwater, Minn.; and Michael D. Goodgame, 20, of Westport, Conn.
William Sparks, 20, of Evanston, Ill., who was driving, and Conor J. Eckert, 19, of Seattle, were seriously injured, according to the State Patrol. The driver of the semi was not injured.
Eric Sieger, media relations director for Carleton College in Northfield, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune the students played on the school's Ultimate Frisbee team, which finished third in the country last year.
He said officials couldn't recall another time three students at the 2,000-student school died in a single day. A prayer vigil was scheduled for Saturday morning.
Carleton President Steven G. Poskanzer released a statement Friday offering "heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the families and friends" of the three students who were killed, according to the Star Tribune.
"The collective Carleton soul aches for the loss of these three young men. Right now, we need to focus all our love and compassion on supporting the families and friends of all these young men, along with everyone in our community who cares for them," he said.
Carleton College officials said Adams was a chemistry major, Harvieux was a computer science major and Goodgame was majoring in political science, according to the Star Tribune.
The highway was snowy and icy, the type of conditions the State Patrol has been constantly warning about, Roeske said.
"Although it seems like white noise because we talk and talk and talk about it, this is specifically the kind of situation we're trying to prevent," Roeske said.