St. Peter, Minn. - To cap off what was an outstanding year for Gustavus Adolphus College Athletics, the Gustavus Sports Information Department is proud to announce senior Ross Ring-Jarvi (Anoka, Minn.) and sophomore Alissa Tinklenberg (Willmar, Minn.) as this year’s Male and Female Student-Athletes-of-the-Year. Ring-Jarvi and Tinklenberg, who are the 12th annual recipients of the Gustavus Athlete-of-the-Year awards, will be honored at the Gustavus Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet set to take place on Saturday, September 29 in Alumni Hall located in the Jackson Student Center.
This year, 10 male and 12 female athletes were nominated. Once nominations are finalized, they are balloted and voted on by the head coaches at Gustavus. Coaches vote for their top-three athletes on both the men’s and women’s sides, awarding five points for a first place vote, three points for second place, and one point for third.
Finishing runner-up in this year’s men’s voting was senior men’s basketball player Seth Anderson (Minnesota Lake, Minn.), and placing third was senior men’s swimmer Billy Schultze (Mankato, Minn.). Receiving the second-most points for the women was senior women’s hockey player Allie Schwab (Stillwater, Minn.), while senior softball player Lisa Klass (Richfield, Minn.) finished third.
Alissa Tinklenberg – Women’s Swimming and Diving – Willmar, Minnesota
In the 12-year history of the Gustavus Student-Athlete of-the-Year award, Alissa “Tink” Tinklenberg is the second-youngest female athlete to receive the honor. Also a swimmer, Andrea Kleven (Eden Prairie, Minn.) is the youngest to be named Athlete-of-the-Year, receiving the distinction after a breakout first-year campaign during the 2000-01 season.
“I feel honored and privileged to receive this award. I’m not one to freak out over things like this, but it was such a great feeling of accomplishment – that all of my hard work paid off,” said Tinklenberg.
In the same tradition as Kleven, Tinklenberg made an impact immediately upon diving into the Lund Natatorium Pool in 2010. The rookie went on to become a champion in the 1650 freestyle and also finished runner-up in the 500 freestyle at her first MIAC Championships. Later at the NCAA Championships, Tinklenberg was a part of the All-America Honorable Mention 16th place 400 and 800-free relay teams.
As is the mark of true competitor, Tinklenberg stated, “I wasn’t completely satisfied with my freshman year, but I made it through and that helped me my sophomore year. I knew I could make it and found a whole new love for the sport.”
With a great initial campaign comes the possibility of the sophomore slump. Possibility…yes. Probability…not a chance, especially for the hard-working native of Willmar, Minnesota. Tinklenberg used her superb collegiate start to set the framework for what would be a record-setting season in 2011-12.
During the opening month of this season, the sophomore tallied a total of 12 finishes on the podium (8 individual, 4 relay). She was also a member of the 200-free relay team that broke the Lund Natatorium pool record after touching the wall in 1:38.11 against St. Olaf on Nov. 12.
From that point, Tinklenberg did nothing but swim faster. Against a slew of NCAA Division I, II, and III competition at the Falcon Invite held Dec. 3-4 in the Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Alissa didn’t back down, recording second place finishes in the 100 and 200 backstroke, and a third place mark in the 500 freestyle. She contributed to the second place 200-free relay, 400-free relay, 400-medley relay, and third place 200-medley relay teams as well. Tinklenberg reached four NCAA ‘B’ cut standards at the meet and earned MIAC Swimming and Diving Athlete-of-the-Week honors for her performance.
If the Falcon Invite was anything, it was foreshadowing for what would to come in January and the rest of the season. Over typically the coldest month of the year in Minnesota, Tinklenberg was on fire in the pool. To put it simply, she refused to lose in January. The sophomore won 16 of the 17 races she competed in and was named the January Student-Athlete of the Month for her efforts.
At the 2012 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships, Tinklenberg led the Gusties to their third-consecutive conference title after accounting for a team-high 57 points. Individually, she won MIAC titles in the 100 and 200 backstroke, while placing runner-up in the 500 freestyle. Tink was also a member of the first place 200-free relay, 400-free relay, and second place 800-free relay teams.
“The refuse to lose attitude on the team makes for a great atmosphere in practice. We are both friendly, but competitive at practice. This year’s team was amazing in that I have never been on a team that works so hard. Nobody thinks about themselves on this team. We all swim for our teammates, coaches and the program,” said Alissa about the dynamics of this season’s MIAC Championship team.
It was at the 2012 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships where the Willmar High School product solidified her place in the Gustavus record books. Her performance at the national meet this season is the best ever by a swimmer donning a three-crowned swim cap. Over the four-day meet, Alissa garnered All-America honors in the 200-free relay (6th), 400-medley relay (6th), 100 backstroke (7th), and 200 backstroke (7th), becoming the first Gustie swimmer to accomplish such a feat.
“As a freshman, I got to see what the pressure and atmosphere was like. This year, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. It’s hard to know whether or not your taper is going to work a month later, but fortunately it did,” commented Alissa about her showing at the NCAA Championships. “I just took it all in and did the best that I could, never expecting to place in the top eight in either of my individual races.“
To date, the second-year standout holds Gustavus’ school record in the 100 back (56.31) and 200 back (2:00.92), both of which were set this season. Tink was also a part of the 2011 school record 400-free relay (3:29.21) and the 2012 400-medley relay (3:50.88) teams.
What’s next for Alissa? Improvement.
“The ultimate goal is to win at nationals. This summer I’ve been hitting the water in the mornings and have been putting in more time than ever in the weight room. I’m just trying to do all the little things that will help the team next year.”
Also a standout in the classroom, Tinklenberg is an accounting major with a 3.81 cumulative grade point average.
Ross Ring-Jarvi – Men’s Hockey – Anoka, Minnesota
On Oct. 31, 2008, a then freshman Ross Ring-Jarvi pulled a Gustavus sweater over his head and took the ice for the first time in his collegiate career. From that night at Don Roberts Ice Rink, Ring-Jarvi would go on to play in 115-straight games representing the Black and Gold, becoming the face of the program as Gustavus men’s hockey propelled itself back into the national spotlight.
With suburb skating and balance, lightening quick hands, and the physical presence of a player playing at 220 pounds instead of 190, Ring-Jarvi was a game-changer on every shift.
When asked about his legacy within the men’s hockey program over his tenure, Ross humbly stated, “It hasn’t been anything I’ve done personally. The only thing that I have done is tried to emulate the leadership of the upperclassmen and captains ahead of me. They showed me the path to being successful through leadership, whether it’s on the campus or on the ice. They did it right, so I just wanted to duplicate what they did.”
Since choosing to come to St. Peter and play for Head Coach Brett Petersen’s squad, the Gustavus men’s hockey team has gone a combined 71-35-9 overall and 38-19-7 in the MIAC. Gustavus earned a trip into the MIAC Playoffs in each of Ross’s four years, winning playoff titles in 2009 and 2012. The Gusties eventually went on to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2010, and 2012. In the 2008-09 season, the Gusties snapped a 16-year absence from NCAA Tournament play by winning the MIAC Playoff Championship before going on what was a magical run to the NCAA Championship game held in Lake Placid, New York. The following season, Ring-Jarvi helped Gustavus win its first MIAC Title since 1993.
“I knew of the hockey tradition at Gustavus, but I had no idea what to expect coming to a .500 team. I was really coming here for education and hockey was a plus. It ended up being that I had an unbelievable career here,” said Ringo about his choice to attend Gustavus. “I played in the NCAA Championship, won an MIAC title, and played alongside an NCAA Player of the Year in David Martinson. I really feel that I experienced everything Division III has to offer and you can’t ask for anything more.”
Despite the fact Ring-Jarvi will downplay his impact on the program in every situation, the fact remains that he will go down as one of the Gustie greats in the modern era of college hockey. In the storied 75-year history of Golden Gustie hockey, Ross is just the third payer to earn All-Conference honors four times, joining Gustavus Hall of Fame members Pat McKusky (1966-69) and Steve Hansen (1975-78).
Ringo’s versatility and durability saw him on the top line, penalty kill, and power play for 115 straight games, earning the Anoka native “Iron Man” status within the program. Only four men’s hockey players at Gustavus have played in more games, including David Ellis (119), Doug Keys (118), Dave Newcomer (116), and Andy Cossette (115).
On the subject of his durability, Ring-Jarvi said, “I just took one day at a time and didn’t really even think about it until my junior year when other guys were graduating and Mitch Carlson had missed maybe one or two games. At that point I thought to myself, ‘You know, I don’t think I’ve missed a game yet.’ I’ve been really fortunate to avoid the big injury and have played well enough to stay in the lineup.”
At the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, the accolades began rolling in for the four-year standout. To go along with his fourth appearance on the All-Conference Team, Ring-Jarvi was named the MIAC Player-of-the-Year by a vote of the league’s coaches. He joins Dave Newcomer (1991), Jason Lesteberg in (1996), Dan Melde (2002), and David Martinson (2010) in the club of Gusties who have been named the MIAC’s MVP.
Ringo was later named to the Men’s Division III CCM Hockey All-America First Team, while also earning a spot on the All-USCHO.com Division III Third Team. He finished the year as the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points.
Ross is quick to say that his accolades are not about him, but about his teammates and coaches.
“I can’t say enough about the coaching staff and my teammates, it should be them getting the credit. I just tried to bring the best I could everyday. When Marty was named player of the year, the first thing he did was shake my hand and say thanks. That is what I owe to my teammates and coaches as well. It is really their award.”
Ross Ring-Jarvi finished with 46 goals and 84 assists for a total of 130 points over his career. The two-year captain sits in a three-way tie for 16th on the all-time career points list at Gustavus, sitting alongside Dan Engstrom `72 and former linemate David Martinson `10.
“The choice to come to Gustavus was the best decision I have ever made,” concluded Ross. “If I would have ended up going to a Division I school, I probably would have been in and out of the lineup, where playing at Gustavus gave me the confidence to pursue hockey beyond college.”
Ross will stay busy this summer training and working at various hockey camps throughout the Twin Cities. In early August, Ross will ship off for Tønsberg, Norwary where he will play professional hockey for the Tønsberg Vikings. Last season the Vikings finished second in the GET-Ligaen League with a record of 30-11 with three overtime wins and one overtime loss. They later went on to fall in Norway’s premier league championship by the score of 4-2 to the Stavanger Oilers.
Ringo graduated from Gustavus with a degree in chemistry this May. He is the second men’s hockey player to be named Gustavus Male Student-Athlete of the Year. David Martinson earned the award in 2010.
The ten finalists for the Gustavus Male Athlete-of-the-Year included: Zach Brown of Eau Claire, Wis. (freshman, soccer), Brett Ylonen of Lake Elmo, Minn. (freshman, soccer), Seth Anderson of Minnesota Lake, Minn. (senior, basketball), John McLean of Eagan, Minn. (freshman, hockey), Billy Schultze of Mankato, Minn. (senior, swimming and diving), Blair Riegel of Lakeville, Minn. (sophomore, track and field), Ross Ring-Jarvi of Anoka, Minn. (senior, hockey), Mya Smith-Dennis of Savage, Minn. (sophomore, tennis), Steve Groskreutz of Faribault, Minn. (senior, track and field), and Amrik Donkena of Rochester, Minn. (junior, tennis).
The 12 finalists for the Gustavus Female Athlete-of-the-Year included: Angela Ahrendt of Shoreview, Minn. (senior, volleyball), Sam Falk of Glenwood, Minn. (first-year, golf), Carolyn Draayer of Deephaven, Minn. (first-year, hockey), Kelsey Florian (junior, basketball), Alissa Tinklenberg of Willmar, Minn. (sophomore, swimming and diving), Amanda Cartony of Stillwater, Minn. (sophomore, hockey), Lisa Klass of Richfield, Minn. (senior, softball), Megan Gaard of Edina, Minn. (senior, tennis), Ally Voss of Wausau, Wis. (junior, track and field), Molly Geske of Mendota Heights, Minn. (senior, basketball), Taylor Drenttel of Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (senior, golf), Allie Schwab of Stillwater, Minn. (senior, hockey).