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College athlete roundup: Success follows area athletes

Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Augustana's Cody Schilling shoots during Saturday's men's college basketball game in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Vikings defeated Winona St. as Schilling scored 12 points in the game.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Cody Schilling brought the fans to their feet.

A freshman guard for the Augustana College men's basketball team, Schilling recorded a steal on the defensive end and raced the other way for a layup fewer than four minutes into a key Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest Saturday night.

The Ellsworth High School graduate's theft and bucket capped a 9-2 Augustana run to start the game and forced visiting Winona State University, the defending NCAA Division II national champion, to call a timeout.

During the break, the Augustana fans packing the stands showered the court with a taunt aimed at the WSU bench: "We got Cody!"

"It's great," Schilling said after the game. "They love me here. I'm so glad I chose Augustana -- it's a great community, a great college. We have great fans; our student section is nuts. They love us, and they're always here for us, whether we're playing the best team in the conference or the worst."

On Saturday night, the Vikings hosted a team that went to three consecutive national championship games -- winning two -- and entered ranked 16th in the nation and tied for first place in the NSIC.

Schilling, who played in a plethora of big games during his storied high school career, wasn't intimidated.

He went 5-for-9 shooting from the field and finished with 12 points, four rebounds, two blocks, two steals and an assist in 23 minutes.

"When you go through what I've been through, going through high school in Ellsworth and my whole senior year trying to break a scoring record and cameras all over me and stuff, you kind of get used to it," said Schilling, who led Ellsworth to consecutive Class A state championships and broke the all-time career high school boys' basketball scoring record. "I just try to stay calm and relaxed before the game. Now, at Augustana, I don't have to score 30 points a game, I can score 10, 12 points a game and help us win. Sometimes it's my night and I have to score 20-something, and sometimes I just have to score 10 and get four assists."

Schilling's big-game experience in high school has helped him thrive as a first-year player in perhaps the toughest conference in Division II.

He's second on the team in points per game (12), rebounds per game (4.8), steals (18) and blocks (7) while starting all 15 games and playing a team-leading 25.8 minutes per contest. He's shooting 55 percent from the field (55-for-115) and 52.9 percent from beyond the arc (18-for-34).

"We don't take a lot of transfers -- we've had three in six years -- so we recruit high school kids and expect them to come in and play as freshmen," Augustana coach Tom Billeter said. "We play freshmen -- it's what we do here.

"We know Cody can score, but what's gotten better with him is his defense. He's getting better defensively."

As Schilling improves, so does Augustana (13-3, 7-2).

Saturday night's upset victory extended the Vikings' winning streak to four games and gave them sole possession of first place in the NSIC.

"We have a great team here," Schilling said. "Hopefully, we can just keep rolling."

Schilling is one of numerous area high school graduates who are excelling athletically in college.

Shortly before Schilling and the Augustana men upset Winona State, Faith Tinklenberg and the Augustana women's basketball team earned a 14-point victory over the Warriors.

Tinklenberg, a graduate of Pipestone Area, has played in all 15 games. The freshman guard is averaging 12.5 minutes per game, 2.3 rebounds and 3.5 points on 40 percent shooting (24-for-50) from the field to lead the Vikings, who are in a three-way tie for third place in the NSIC.

Athletes also are representing the area on other winter sports teams at Augustana.

Nick Henning, a graduate of Fulda, lost his first dual-meet match of the season Friday, but the No. 18-ranked Vikings earned a 32-7 victory to improve to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the NSIC. The loss broke Henning's five-match dual winning streak, which included a major-decision victory Jan. 10 in Augustana's 23-15 victory over Central Missouri, which then was a top-20 team.

Rachel Christiansen, a graduate of Murray County Central, was one of 13 top-5 finishers for the Vikings at the John Dalton Memorial indoor track and field invitational at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D., on Saturday. Christiansen, a sophomore, placed second in the shot put with a throw of 11.72 meters.

The John Dalton Memorial, which served as the season-opening event for many indoor track and field programs, also served as a platform for a plethora of other area athletes to excel.

Lee Stover, an Adrian graduate, placed 6th in the men's 1,000-meter run (2:45.31) to lead Northwestern (Iowa) College.

Jenna Sorensen, a sophomore from Windom, placed ninth in the mile (5:33.75), and Heidi Hildebrandt, a sophomore from Mountain Lake, finished 13th in the triple-jump (9.25 meters) to lead the Northwestern women's team.

Tracy Feldman, a junior from George-Little Rock, placed 23rd in the 60-meter dash (8.76) and 28th in the 200-meter dash (29.67) to lead Briar Cliff University, and Tim Kruse, also from G-LR, placed 10th in the weight throw (12.25 meters) to lead the University of Sioux Falls.

Stephanie Schultz, a sophomore from Jackson County Central, placed 11th in the hurdles (10.72) to lead Mount Marty College at the invitational.

Creighton Schroyer, a junior from Pipestone Area, won the shot put with a throw of 15.18 meters Saturday to lead the University of North Dakota in its season-opener at the Bemidji State Super 8 Invitational.

Kelley Nelson, a senior from Westbrook-Walnut Grove, placed 10th in the mile (5:56.96) Saturday at the Minnesota Open at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse to lead St. Cloud State University, and Brita Johnson, a sophomore from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, placed second in the shot put (11.4 meters) and third in the weight throw (13.96 meters) Jan. 10 for Minnesota State-Mankato at the MSU Alumni Open.

A fellow athlete of Johnson's at MSUM, Travis Elg has made a name for himself on the wrestling mat.

Elg, a junior from Mountain Lake, was named the NSIC wrestler of the week Dec. 16 after recording four pins and a major decision en route to the 141-pound championship at the St. Cloud State Husky Open. Elg went 23-7, won the regional title, finished sixth at the NCAA Division II championships and was named an All-American last year as a sophomore.

Elg entered his junior season ranked No. 3 in the nation at 141 pounds for the Mavericks (6-3, 2-0), who currently are ranked No. 4 in the nation.

Andy Witzel, a junior from Fulda, suffered just his third loss of the season Friday in Augsburg College's 22-18 victory over North Dakota State University.

Witzel, a 6-foot-2 heavyweight, is 22-3 this season for Augsburg, which is ranked No. 1 in Division III.

Calvin Ferguson, a freshman from Jackson County Central, is 4-7 with three pins at 174 pounds for St. Cloud State, which is ranked No. 12 in Division II.

Travis Rutt, a freshman from JCC, won his past two matches for the University of Wisconsin, including a win against 12th-ranked Trevor Perry of Indiana, to improve his overall record to 8-6 and his dual record to 4-2.

Michal Barrie, a senior from Adrian, is 12-5 with three pins at two different weights (133 and 141) for Southwest Minnesota State. Barrie's teammate, Luke Giese, won five of his first seven matches for the Mustangs. The junior from Murray County Central, who led SMSU in pins a year ago (8), currently is 7-11.

Two Fulda graduates currently are playing well for SMSU's women's basketball team.

Laura Kremer, a sophomore, scored a career-high 18 points to go with 12 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists in a game-high 33 minutes Saturday to lead the Mustangs in a 60-55 loss to Concordia-St. Paul.

The 6-foot-2 center leads the Mustangs in rebounding (6.2) and blocks (24), and she's second on the team in scoring (8.2) and field-goal percentage (52.3).

Abby Oakland, a senior from Fulda, had five points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals Saturday. The 5-foot-8 guard is averaging 6.6 points and is second on the team in rebounding (4.6), assists (46), steals (26) and minutes per game (24.8).

Erica Hormig, a senior from Windom, has started nine of 13 games for Bethel University's women's basketball team. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 3.3 rebounds and 5.3 points while shooting 40 percent (23-for-55) from the field.

Samantha Gacke, a sophomore from Luverne, is averaging 7.5 rebounds and two points per game while shooting 48 percent (12-for-25) from the field for Sioux Falls. Gacke's teammate, Lacey Janzen, a sophomore from Mountain Lake, is shooting 40.7 percent (11-for-27) from the field and averaging just fewer than two points per game.

Katie Ernst, a senior from Sibley-Ocheyedan, went 3-for-5 from the field with eight points, five rebounds, a steal and an assist Saturday for Buena Vista University, which lost on a last-second shot to Loras College. The 5-foot-9 forward has played in all 15 games and is averaging 2.5 rebounds and 5.5 points on 53.7 percent (29-for-54) shooting from the field.

Maria Boever, a junior from Worthington, has started 11 of 19 games for South Dakota State University's women's basketball team. The 6-foot-1 guard is third on the team in scoring (10.4) on 47.4 percent shooting (54-for-114) from the field while playing 24.3 minutes per game.

Amy Kallemeyn, a freshman from Edgerton, went 2-for-2 from the field and scored 10 points in 10 minutes Wednesday, Jan. 10, to lead Northwestern (Iowa) College in a 78-71 victory over Briar Cliff. The 6-foot-2 center has started 15 of 18 games and is averaging five rebounds and 5.5 points on 57 percent shooting (45-for-79) from the field this season.

Three area graduates are excelling for Northwestern's men's basketball team, which is the top-scoring squad in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

Kale Wiertzema, a senior from Hills-Beaver Creek, scored a game-high 22 points -- the eighth time this season he's scored 20-plus points in a game -- to lead the Red Raiders to an upset victory over No. 11-ranked Briar Cliff on Wednesday, Jan. 14. He added four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Wiertzema, a 6-foot-3 guard, leads the GPAC in scoring (22.1 points per game), and he leads the team in steals (28) and is second in assists (52). He's shooting 45.5 percent (115-for-247) from the field and 45.9 percent (39-for-85) from beyond the arc this season.

Wiertzema's teammate, Alex Huisken, went 5-for-8 shooting for 10 points and added six rebounds in the win over Briar Cliff. A freshman forward from Southwest Christian, Huisken has played in 14 of 18 games this season and is averaging 12.1 minutes and 3.9 points per game.

Reed Van Hulzen, a junior from Edgerton, also is on the team.

Mark Engen, a 6-foot-10 junior center from Red Rock Central, has played in 13 of 20 games for South Dakota State University and is averaging two points, 1.5 rebounds and 8.5 minutes per game.

Eddie Marrs, a guard who played two years on Minnesota West's men's basketball team, has started 19 of 20 games and is leading Morningside in scoring (15.2), steals (37) and assists (50). The 5-foot-9 junior is shooting 46.7 percent (107-for-229) from the field.

James Granstra, a sophomore from Southwest Star Concept, went 3-for-4 from the field and scored eight points Saturday for Western Illinois in a 64-54 loss to Oral Roberts. The 6-foot-10 forward has started 9 of 18 games and is averaging 2.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 17.1 minutes per game. He also leads the team with 10 blocks.

Christina Sorensen, a junior from Worthington, placed 11th in the vault (8.875) and 10th in the beam (8.850) Saturday to lead Gustavus Adolphus College's gymnastics team at the Gustavus triangular.