Caleb Nelson: Many area athletes doing well at college
I find it fun to watch athletes who are clearly sold out for the team and will do whatever is necessary to achieve the team’s goals, no matter who gets the credit.
You would probably be hard pressed to find a coach who doesn’t agree with me, longing for players to buy into their preferred system.
Few truly have a knack for this and a great deal do not. It is no accident that, many times, it is the ones who have the ability to follow this little bite of wisdom — and use a sense of God-given talent — who make it to the next level.
This is why I love what I do and why I also enjoy being a sports fan. I enjoy to the fullest degree that I get to watch student-athletes achieve goals and see dreams come true, and chronicle the stories surrounding it.
Worthington High School graduate Jalen Voss is likely one of these people I’m talking about, a student-athlete who has continually bought into what his coaches have taught him.
Voss has been rewarded for his hard work and focus and is a starter on this winter’s mens basketball team at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D.
I caught up with the towering forward recently as part of an effort to catch up with a few of our area’s finest prep athletes who now find their homes in the college ranks.
So far, Voss has offered 19.5 points-per-game in his junior season. He trails just one teammate with nine blocks and 5.8 rebounds per game. Defensively, he has 15 steals.
“It is crazy how much faster paced the college game is and how much I wasn’t used to it when I got here,” Voss told me. “For one, I’m a bigger guy, so in high school I didn’t always have to be all that quick. In college, you have centers that are super quick and you have to adapt to it.”
In a game recently at Concordia College, in Seward, Neb., Voss scored the 1,000th point of his college career.
It came with little fanfare, but the business major seems OK with that. He is just excited to be able to fulfill a dream.
“Coming in this year, I’ve stepped into more of a leadership role. I’ve progressed,” Voss said. “There weren’t very many of our fans there, but it was cool to score that 1,000th point.”
Voss is one of several former Worthington boys basketball players longtime high school coach Ron Vorwald coached who are now playing in the college.
Jon Vorwald, Ron’s son, is a freshman teammate of Voss’ at DWU. Travis Meinders and Mitch Weg are players at Southwest State University. Meinders, formerly at MSU-Mankato, transferred to play with the Mustangs and has recently become eligible again.
When I asked Coach Vorwald to speak on each of these young men, he beamed with praises.
“I expected those two to do well,” he said quickly of Voss, and his son Jon, last week. “Jalen was an outstanding basketball player in high school and so was Jon. Jalen has gone on and has been a force in the the Great Plains Athletic Conference. He’s having a great sophmore year. Jon is a freshman and was one of the few freshmen to make the varsity team.
“Both Travis and Mitch are having great seasons,” coach Vorwald continued. “I’m equally as proud of those two. They had stellar careers for us in high school and were a flat-out joy to coach.”
So there you have it: plenty of players boys basketball fans from Worthington can look back on and be proud of, and still be proud of.
But wait, there’s more, and we’re still only on the topic of mens basketball.
Also from the area is Augustana sophomore Casey Schilling, of Ellsworth. He has played up a storm so far and is poised to continue to do so. The Vikings are 9-5 through the first portion of their season and are 6-2 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Schilling, a 6-6 forward, leads the team with 18.9 points-per-game on average and has been heralded on numerous occasions by the league for his play this season.
Going to womens basketball, it is no secret that one of the area’s top products has to be Mississippi State’s Martha Alwal.
A former standout Worthington High School athlete, Alwal was recently highlighted in the Daily Globe for a trip she and her team took to North Dakota State University. A contingent of Alwal’s friends and fans traveled to Fargo to watch the game, where Alwal put up 19 points in the second half for a 10-point win. She also broke her college’s shot blocks record earlier this season.
More recently graduating from Worthington is Gabby Boever.
The older sister of current girls basketball player Ana Boever, Gabby — now a junior — plays womens basketball for the Jackrabbits at South Dakota State University. She is one of 11 children and follows her sister Maria at SDSU, who played from 2007-10.
Gabby, in her sophomore season, started all but one of her team’s 33 games. She led the team with 110 assists. She has scored 5.6 points per-game so far this season and leads the team with 3.1 assists per outing. She also paces the team with 35 steals.
Also on the womens basketball floor are Pipestone Area graduate Bailey Bouman (4.1 ppg) at the University of Sioux Falls, Dakota State senior Alyson Drooger of Edgerton (leads Division II with 82 total shot blocks) and sophomore Courtney Hulstein of Fulda (4.6 ppg).
On the wrestling mat, a name that has crossed my desk numerous times is Southwest State’s Justin Reinsma.
A Murray County Central graduate now wrestling at 133 pounds at the NCAA Division II level, Reinsma pieced together a 15-9 record through the first of the year and is ranked No. 8 nationwide in his weight class. He is a two-time All-American and was named to the second team for the NSIC last season.
SMSU opens its conference schedule at home Saturday, when Minot State comes to Marshall for a 4 p.m. dual meet.
So there you have it: a wide array of young adults are achieving goals both athletically and professionally.
Did we miss some? Sure we did. We’re bound to. If you think of an athlete we missed who is worthy of mentioning, don’t be afraid to contact us. We’d love to do more to highlight all the great talent that has come from southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa.