St. Peter, Minn. - To put the finishing touch on the 2012-13 season in Gustavus Adolphus College Athletics, the Gustavus Sports Information Department is proud to announce senior golfer Alex Kolquist (Hermantown, Minn.) and senior hockey player Lindsey Hjelm (North Oaks, Minn.) as this year’s Male and Female Athletes-of-the-Year. Kolquist and Hjelm are 13th recipients of the award and will be honored at the Gustavus Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 2nd in Alumni Hall located in the Jackson Student Center.
This year, nine male and eight 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 pole vaulter Josh Owens (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and taking third was senior soccer player Lucas Thompson (Sioux Falls, S.D.). Receiving the second-most points for the women was junior swimmer Alissa Tinklenberg (Willmar, Minn.) while placing third was senior pole vaulter Allyson Voss (Wausau, Wis.).
Alex Kolquist – Men’s Golf – Hermantown, Minnesota
At 46.8-degrees N, 92.2-degrees W, Hermantown, Minnesota is most often recognized for its hockey, not necessarily for producing elite golfers. Not in this story. As a senior at Hermantown High School in the fall of 2008, Alex Kolquist had never heard of Gustavus Adolphus College and certainly knew nothing about its golf program’s prestigious history. Little did he know that he would play a key role in that history over the next four years of his life.
“I got an email from coach Moe the beginning of my senior year of high school without ever hearing about Gustavus,” laughed Kolquist. “I met with coach and got the sense that he understood how I liked to play the game. He put me in a position to succeed in his program and I wouldn’t change anything about my experience.”
In the fall of 2009, a still unsure Kolquist played on the Gustie first team for the first time at the Frank Wrigglesworth Blugold Invite where he shot an 83-80-163 (+21) to finish 47th overall. Coach Moe made the decision at that time to keep Kolquist in his top-five for the following tournament, which happened to be the 2009 MIAC Championships.
At his first conference meet, Kolquist made an impact with a two-under-par 70 – the lowest round of the tournament – on the opening day. He finished with an 81 (+9) on day two and a 72 (E) on day three, earning a spot on the podium in third place with a three-day total 223 (+7).
“It was bad weather in Eau Claire and I shot a couple rounds in the 80s and coach decided to stick with me,” remembered Kolquist. “Taking third place and earning All-Conference as a freshman gave me confidence for the rest of that year. I knew at that point that I had what it takes play at this level.”
As a sophomore, Kolquist missed out on earning All-Conference honors after placing 15th with a score of 230 (+14) at the MIAC Championships. Not to be discouraged, he bounced back with a tremendous spring season. Although the Gusties missed the cut as a team at the 2011 NCAA Championships, Kolquist advanced individually in dramatic fashion. He became part of a three-way playoff for the final individual spot to continue in the tournament. Staying calm and collected, he claimed the final position by winning a one-hole playoff with three others with a 15-foot, downhill birdie putt on the 18th hole.
The playoff still remains one of Alex’s most memorable moments of his career. “Advancing in a playoff my sophomore year was a surreal moment,” he said. “Coach Randy Stuckey was by my side the entire time and the rest of my teammates were there, cheering me on and keeping things light and loose.
He went on to finish 15th overall with a 72-hole total of 72-73-77-72–294 (+6). He was named to the Golf Coaches Association of America 2011 All-America Second Team following the tournament.
At the 2011 MIAC Championships, Kolquist earned his way back onto the All-MIAC Team after finishing fifth overall with a 76-78-70-224 (+8). It was also in the 2011-12 season that Gustavus posted a team finish at the NCAA Championships by placing 12th overall.
The culmination of a career came together at the precise time for Kolquist, and as a senior he couldn’t have scripted it any better. If you were expecting record scores leading up to the 2012 MIAC Championships, a look at the weather forecast would have most likely put those thoughts to bed. Alex remained unfazed by the cold, wind, and rain at Bunker Hills Golf Course, welcoming the elements at the final conference meet of his career.
“The team liked the weather conditions and knew that we could handle it going into the tournament,” he explained. “We knew that if we could stay within and just shoot par, we would have a good shot at winning.”
Led by Kolquist, the team did just that. Alex set the tone with a three-under-par 69 on the opening day to put himself in first place. On day two, he continued to stay aggressive and finished with a career-best five-under-par 67 – extending his four stroke lead to ten strokes heading into the final day.
Kolquist said that his good fortune began on the fourth hole on day two. “Between the fourth and 13th holes was probably the best golf I’ve ever played in my life. If you’re playing well and can handle the pressure of knowing that you’re playing well, you’ve set yourself up to be successful. I was able to handle it in the right manner and it worked out.”
Scott Moe joked after the tournament that the stars must have been aligned for Alex because he sunk a 15-foot putt to save double bogey on the opening hole of round two. “After sinking the putt, he made a stretch of pars and then birdied six-of-seven holes. It was smooth sailing from there,” said Moe.
History was made on the final day when the senior capped the tournament with his third consecutive round under par with a one-under 71. Kolquist had his “white moment” and when the dust settled, his nine-under 207 turned out to be the lowest three-round total in the prestigious history of Gustavus golf. His score was also the lowest 54-hole total in the history of the MIAC Tournament, breaking the previous record of 213 (-7) set by Saint John’s Tony Krogen in 2009. The previous Gustavus school record for a three-round tournament was a 211 (-7), set by Tim DeJarlais in 1990.
“I have seen a lot of tournaments over the years but this was the best wire-to-wire event I have witnessed,” said Moe following the tournament – a powerful statement coming from Gustavus Hall of Famer and All-American during what is considered the Golden Era of Gustavus golf in the early 1990s.
The 2012 MIAC Individual Medalist had led Gustavus to an MIAC Championship, the program’s first since 2007. He finished his senior campaign with three tournament wins, five top-three finishes, and seven top-10 finishes. The Gusties finished in a tie for seventh at the NCAA Championships, while Kolquist placed 46th overall with a 306 (+21).
Following the NCAA Championships, Alex earned a place on the GCAA All-America First Team, the first Gustie to receive first team accolades since Kyle Rohlfs did so in 2008. Dating back to Terry Olson in 1985, Kolquist is the ninth Gustie to receive such an honor. He finished the year with the sixth-best stroke average in NCAA Division III at 73.3 after 22 rounds.
With a stroke average of 77.1 (+6) his freshman year, Kolquist would be a staple at the top of the Gustavus lineup. With a 74.2 (+3) stroke average as a sophomore, a 76.3 (+5) as a junior, and a 73.3 (+2) as a senior, Alex finished his career with a 75.1 (+3) average after 84 rounds and 6,457 strokes.
To go along with being named the Gustavus Male Athlete-of-the-Year, Kolquist was also named the Gustavus Senior Male Athlete-of-the-Year. He is the first men’s golfer to be named Athlete-of-the-Year since Luke Benoit was bestowed the honor in 2004.
When asked about how his game has developed over his tenure on the hill, Kolquist said, “I started out running and gunning, playing aggressive, and hitting a lot of drivers. I still consider myself an aggressive golfer, but I’ve learned how to tone down that aggressiveness to a certain point. My game has matured and I like to think I’ve matured as a golfer as well.”
Alex will continue to use that aggressiveness on the links in his post college career. “I’m going to enjoy being a 22-year old for the summer and continue to play golf. Later in the summer I will hit the job search, but for now I’m just going to continue to have fun.”
While also working at the pro shop at the Enger Park Golf Course in Duluth, Kolquist will prepare to take part in the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship on July 15-17 and the Minnesota State Open Championship on July 19-21.
“The Gustavus men’s golf program is one of the best in the country and I’m so proud to have been a part of it. My coaches and teammates have been so instrumental in my success and I could never thank them enough,” concluded Kolquist.
Lindsey Hjelm – Women’s Hockey – North Oaks, Minnesota
Lindsey Hjelm skated in a Gustavus sweater for the last time on March 16, 2013. That day marked the end of a collegiate career that began in River Falls, Wis. on Nov. 13 2009. Between that time, Hjelm skated in all 120 of her games, scored 110 points (48G, 62A), earned countless accolades, and left a lasting impact on the community she called home for the past four years. Despite all that, the Gustavus women’s hockey program’s “Iron Woman” remains gracious, humble, and still smitten by her good fortune. Tony Stark should take a few notes on humility from the North Oaks, Minnesota native.
“This is something that I could not have fathomed as a freshman coming to Gustavus,” said Hjelm. “It really was just a dream of mine. I came in looking to make the team and earn a spot on the forward lines and that was it. It has been such a whirlwind since then that it’s still hard to comprehend.”
Lindsey Hjelm’s Gustavus career began in the fall of 2009. The daughter of former Gustavus men’s hockey standout Rick Hjelm, Lindsey remembers one of the first pieces of advice handed down to her by dad.
“I remember my dad telling me before starting my biology and chemistry classes that, ‘Lindsey, all you have to do is pass.’ That’s what you’re expectation of me is I remember saying to myself. Is it really going to be that hard?” laughed Hjelm.
The worry subsided and Lindsey excelled in the classroom. She graduated in June with a degree in biology after earning a cumulative grade point average of 3.79. She earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors twice and was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American on two occasions. She was named to the Academic All-America Third Team following her junior season and the First Team following her senior year. Hjelm was the first Gustavus athlete to garner Academic All-America First Team distinction since her former teammate Sara Yungner did so back in 2011.
“The Division IIII principles of discover, develop, and dedicate have all been apart of my experience here. Whether it’s in the classroom or on the ice, you have to overcome trials and keep persevering in order to get to where you want to be,” she explained.
On the ice Hjelm was aggressive, fearless, a student of the game, and an impact maker on each and every shift. Since stepping on to campus, Hjelm has proven herself a leader in the rink and in the community.
“I’m definitely someone who likes to lead by example,” she said about her leadership style. “I was willing to pave my own trail and was ready to do whatever it took to demonstrate how serious I was about hockey and succeeding in any area of life that I was going to invest in. Whether it’s a relationship, my commitment to school, or volunteer work, leading by example is something I strive for and admire in others.”
During Hjelm’s tenure, the Gustavus women’s hockey program has enjoyed unprecedented success. The Gusties won four MIAC Championships and four MIAC Playoff Titles, and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament Semifinals four straight years. As a winner, not many college athletes can say they won 82.5-percent of their contests. Even fewer can boast about having a winning percentage of .889 against conference foes. The Gusties went 95-17-8 overall and 62-6-4 in the MIAC over the past four years, a mark that Hjelm is proud to have contributed to.
“I can’t say enough about my teammates and coaches,” she said of the team’s success. “Because of them and the players who came before me, this program is one of the best in the country. You have to want work hard here to achieve success, and to see what this team has accomplished over my four years is something I’m truly proud of.”
With same tenacity and drive she employs in the corners, Hjelm committed to making an impact in the Gustavus community. She belonged to Beta Beta Beta Biology National Honors Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, served as a coordinator for the Special Olympics, was an organizer for the Science on Saturday, and was a volunteer for the Good Samaritan Activities, Habitat For Humanity, and the Walk to School programs – just to name a few.
Of all of her activities away from the rink and the classroom, the volunteer work that stands out to Hjelm the most involves her participation in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Gustie Greeters.
“FCA is something that has really grown over the last four years,” said Hjelm. “We get between 20 and 30 people who come each week and it’s been great to meet so many athletes from a wide array of sports. It was a great way for me to plug in my faith amongst people with similar interests. That was an important and fundamental aspect of my experience here.”
Lindsey was also quick to acknowledge that although the Gustie Greeters are known for being loud, obnoxious, and at times, a little over the top, her experiences with the group are some of her most memorable. “My own experience being welcomed to this campus and this community was something special and I just wanted to mirror that for other first-years coming in,” she detailed. “It’s such an overwhelming thing to move away from home and start a whole new life, so any help I could be in that transition was cool for me. I’ve been through a lot over my four years and I want to be a mentor to others, share those experiences, and help them along the way.”
One of those transitions happened for Hjelm at the start of her junior season when the decision was made to move the two-year starting forward to defense. The moved paid off and Hjelm was named to the AHCA All-America team after an outstanding year on the blue line. After playing the first half of her senior season as a defender, Head Coach Mike Carroll decided to jump start Gustavus’s offense by moving Hjelm back to her natural position at forward. Once again, the move paid off.
“I knew that our team had so many strong forwards, so when there was a need on defense I said, ‘Yeah I’ll go back there, I don’t want people to score on us.’ I just thought of it as a new challenge and a new skill to develop,” said Hjelm as she reflected back on her junior season. “I think it just showed how supportive the team was. Everybody was on board and I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my teammates.”
To go along with being named the 2012-13 Gustavus Female Athlete-of-the Year, a laundry list of Hjelm’s on the ice career achievements read as this: 2009-10 MIAC All-Rookie Team, four-time All-Conference performer, 2012-13 MIAC Player-of-the-Year, 2012-13 Shelia Brown Award winner, two-time AHCA First Team All-American (as a defender in 2012 and a forward in 2013), 2012-13 D3hockey.com West Region Player-of-the-Year, 2012-13 D3hockey.com First Team All-American, and the 2012-13 Gustavus Female Senior Athlete-of-the-Year.
Hjelm is the fourth Gustavus women’s hockey player to receive Gustavus Athlete-of-the-Year honors. She follows in the footsteps of Sarah Moe (2001-02), Andrea Peterson (2006-07), and Melissa Mackley (2009-10).
“When I think about my hockey experience at Gustavus, determination and work ethic come to mind before any of the individual awards I’ve received,” Lindsey explained. “Taking the bull by the horns and going after something you want – that is what stands out.”
Lindsey will begin working as a medical scribe at a number of Minneapolis hospitals in July. She is currently applying for medical school with the hope of starting in the fall of 2014. In the meantime, she will stay busy at her alma mater by serving as an assistant coach for the Mounds View girl’s hockey team.
Lindsey said that she’s proud of the team’s welcoming culture and hopes she leaves an attitude of positivity with the program.
“Off days are going to happen but you have to learn how to deal with them and leave them at the rink,” said Hjelm. “My hope is that girls who come into this program realize that they can make this experience their own. This is a college where you can become the person you want to be.”
Hjelm’s rock-solid leadership qualities and professional manner was highlighted in Superior, Wis. following the final game of her career. After a pair of heartbreaking losses in the NCAA Semifinals to conclude her career, there wasn’t a soul who would have batted an eye if Lindsey would have been shaken and broken up in the post-game press conference. However, that wouldn’t be Lindsey’s style. With a slight smile and her shoulders and head held high, Lindsey showed why she was the face of the program. She said simply, “The progression that our team has continued to make at this level demonstrates the direction our program is headed. This weekend was a great example of the type of hockey the west is capable of. I have complete confidence in Gustavus moving forward and am proud to have played four years here.”
Spoken like a true captain.