Spring Grove seven compete in five college sports
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 9:53 AM
Seven graduates of Spring Grove High School continued their athletic careers while also pursuing a collegiate education in school year 2011-'12.
Three were two-sport athletes. Five were basketball players with two also on the volleyball court and one each competing in baseball, golf and football.
These four women and three men were on six different campuses - two schools each in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Andy Folz (SG Male Athlete of the Year 2007 and son of Paul & Kristy Folz) has now completed his football career and his Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management and Recreation at St. Cloud State University (SCSU).
SCSU, as a Division II team with limited athletic scholarships available, had recruited Folz out of high school as a walk-on.
Last fall, he was a senior reserve running back, earning his third varsity letter. He was named the Huskies' Offensive Player of the Game following the win over Moorhead State.
He averaged 6.2 yards per carry with a season-high 101 yards and a touchdown versus Minnesota Crookston.
Folz displayed his versatility and defensive skills when called upon as a member of the kickoff and punt coverage teams.
With collegiate eligibility exhausted, Folz is still playing football. In a summer season just completed, he was a running back for the St. Paul Pioneers, a semi-pro squad that was ranked number one in a national poll at the end of an 11-0 season.
Folz did miss the final few games with a concussion sustained against the Rochester Giants. The Pioneers compete in the same league as the Giants and the River City Rough Riders of La Crosse, Wis.
Semi-pro players do not get paid, but Folz was hired nine days after graduation by another football organization. Working out of an office at the Metrodome, he is a ticket management representative for the Minnesota Vikings.
Garrett Cross (SG Male Athlete of the Year 2009 and son of Gary & Kay Cross) heads into his senior year at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, having already lettered three times each in both golf and basketball while progressing toward a degree in art.
Cross was all-conference on the golf course after placing 10th at the Iowa Conference Tournament. He led the event through the first two rounds shooting a tournament-low 71 in the second round.
Although most of the season is comprised of two-day tournaments, Cross won the one-day Loras Invitational with a 73.
His 69 at the Wartburg Invite tied for the third best 18-hole score in school history. His 71 at the conference tourney is the 10th best score in the Kohawk record book. His 146 at Wartburg is the sixth best 36-hole score in school history.
As a junior guard on the basketball court, Cross played in all 27 games and drew five starting nods on a strong 19-8 team. He was usually the first player coming off the bench.
Always valued for his defense, the 6-ft., 175-lb. sharpshooter could also spark the offense averaging 7.7 points per game.
His 56.5 percent three-point shooting was a Kohawk best last winter. Cross was second in overall shooting from the field at 46.2 percent. He hit 84.3 percent of his free throws and was second on his team with 86 made free throws.
Basketball season is sandwiched in between the autumn and spring golf seasons. It is a perfect two-sport fit except it leaves Cross with no down time or off season.
Jacey Anderson (SG Female Athlete of the Year 2010 and 2009 and daughter of Kurt & Michelle Anderson) attended Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) where she was a starting guard on the basketball team, which has been the MCAC (Minnesota College Athletic Conference) South Division and state champion the past two years.
Anderson felt that 2012 was the most successful of her two seasons
The 5-ft., 8-in. sophomore was especially valued for her defense. Head coach Steve Hucke said she "was feisty and worked hard, one of our defensive go-to kids." In the Yellowjackets' man-to-man defense, Anderson drew the task of defending the opponent's best guard.
Anderson, having completed her two years of community college basketball eligibility, will work online this fall to complete her associate degree before continuing her education toward a career in dental hygiene.
Eva Gleason (SG Class of 2010 and daughter of Chris & Toby Denstad) was a two-sport athlete at Western Technical College (WTC) in La Crosse. It was her second and last season of community college eligibility in volleyball after having played at Viterbo the previous year.
While she was a sophomore in volleyball eligibility at WTC, she was a freshmen in eligibility during her first season of college basketball.
In volleyball, she was a setter for the Cavaliers averaging 2.8 assists per set. As the season progressed, Gleason was also called upon to be a right side hitter with a good 40.4 percent hitting efficiency.
She embraced the added responsibility, which kept her on the court throughout the rotation. She was voted the Most Improved Player by her volleyball teammates.
"Eva Gleason is a fierce competitor and a great teammate," said volleyball coach Jake Kujak. "Her contribution to our team could not be measured strictly in stats, but more in how hard she practiced and played for us, and how she gave 100% effort every time she stepped onto the volleyball court."
The volleyball Cavaliers finished at 18-12 after falling in the region semi-final to the eventual national junior college champion for Division III.
On the basketball court, Gleason began in a reserve role coming off the bench. Later, she was on the floor most of the game as an undersized 5-ft., 6-in. post. averaging 4.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game
"Eva was a treat to have on the team," said cage coach Ron Latva. "She came to the basketball program a little shy and tentative but caught on in a hurry and took advantage of her playing time.
"She started out a bit unsure, and we worked with her on her shooting and her attacking the basket. She was tentative to shoot and passed to others. She worked very hard to improve her game and started attacking the basket. She became an offensive threat and a true team player.
"I look forward to having her on the team again this year, and we have great possibilities for this season."
With general undergraduate courses completed, Gleason embarks on a two-year program of Human Services.
Dakotah Rostad (SG Male Athlete of the Year 2010 and son of Lynn & Andy Anderson) moved into a starting position in his second baseball season at Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC).
The sophomore third baseman was also a team captain for the Yellowjackets who had a winning 26-23 record.
He was "one of the most well-liked players on the team," said head coach Steve Hucke. The coach praised his great leadership and personality, "always playing to the best of his ability."
Rostad batted .242 with 14 runs batted in while defending in the hot corner with a .865 fielding percentage.
Having completed his baseball eligibility at the two-year school, he will now continue his playing days and education at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
While earning associate degrees in both sports management and coaching at RCTC, Rostad was on the Dean's List every semester and also received an all-academic baseball honor.
This summer he once again worked at the Minnesota Twins summer baseball camp.
Jordan Olerud (SG co-Female Athlete of the Year 2011 and daughter of Todd & Patty Olerud) was one of three freshmen letter winners in women's basketball at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.
She began the season as a starting guard on the junior varsity but would eventually work her way onto the varsity as one of the seven or eight-guard rotation.
Starting varsity honors were earned with statistics during practice sessions. Olerud played in 15 varsity games and started twice toward the end of the season. The NCAA Division III team posted a 21-8 season record.
"Jordan has been a great addition to our team," said head coach Randi Peterson. "She stepped up in a big way for us when we needed it most. Jordan is a fierce competitor; by nature she makes others play harder when she is putting her best effort on the floor.
"It always takes a bit of time to adjust to the college game, but once Jordan made that adjustment, she stepped up where we needed it most. Her energy and fight is contagious.
"She hit big shots, sank big free throws, hustled for loose balls at critical times in games. Her contribution as a freshman on a very good basketball team was vital to our success. These intangibles are what make Jordan a special player."
Olerud, with an undeclared major, also had to adjust to the collegiate class and study schedules. She said her grades were better during the basketball season when she had to budget her time most judiciously.
Katelyn Bjerke (SG co-Female Athlete of the Year 2011 and daughter of Tom & Tina Bjerke) competed in two sports at two different schools last year. In the autumn, she was a 6-ft., 2-in. freshman reserve volleyball hitter at Viterbo University in La Crosse, a team that went 36-8. She saw action on both the varsity and junior varsity squads.
Transferring to Luther College in Decorah at mid-term, Bjerke joined the basketball team.
Coach Amanda Bailey pointed out, "We are very excited that Katelyn Bjerke transferred to Luther last season.
"It is often very difficult for players to start during the middle of the season, but Katelyn did a great job adjusting to a different system and made great strides throughout the rest of the season.
"I am looking forward to seeing what she can do when she competes for a full season this year. She has been a great addition to our team."
Bjerke and her Norse teammates enjoyed a trip this summer playing basketball games in South Africa. A brief stopover in London permitted some additional tourist opportunities.
Bjerke will also continue her volleyball career at Luther with practices beginning this week.
Editor's note: If any SGHS graduate playing college ball last school year was omitted from this coverage, contact Lee Epps at the Herald.