Blaine Storlie, Hamline University
Blaine Storlie, Hamline University

Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series. Coverage of the college women was in the Aug. 26 Herald.

Six Spring Grove men were collegiate athletes on four campuses in three states during the last school year, 2014-'15. Four were on the gridiron, one competed on the basketball court and another was a powerlifter.

Half of those local heroes donned shoulder pads at Luther College. "All three players are very good students and work hard in the classroom," said head football coach Aaron Hafner.  “We are very excited about their ability to provide our team with their leadership and athletic ability.  All three players are excellent representatives for Spring Grove.“ 

Aric Elton (SG Male Athlete of the Year 2012) enters his senior football season at Luther, having been Second Team All-Conference as a junior after receiving Honorable Mention on the all-league squad as a sophomore.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound linebacker has lettered each of his three seasons and has logged 200 tackles thus far in his college career. Elton ranked 10th in the conference in tackles last fall.

We are very excited about Aric's ability to make plays and be a leader on our football team," said Coach Hafner. "He is a proven all-conference performer the past two seasons.  Aric will be a captain for our football team this fall.  He is a very smart and instinctive football player that will be one of the top linebackers in our conference."  

Josh Olerud (SG rushing, scoring, interception, tackle leader 2012) will be defending at a new position along with special teams duty as he returns to Luther for his junior campaign at 5-11, 195. He was the starting strong safety as a sophomore, posting 30 tackles with one interception while earning his second varsity letter. 

 "Josh will be playing linebacker this fall," said Hafner. "He had a great spring and played very well in our game versus the Norwegian National Team on our trip to Norway.  He has really improved in the weight room and has become more explosive.  He will be competing for playing time at linebacker and will be a very valuable special teams player." 

Ethan Murphy (5-11, 275) returns to extensive duty in Luther's defensive line as a junior. Earning his first varsity letter last autumn, he appeared in all 10 games and was in 19 tackles.

"Ethan has been improving very consistently over his first two years," said his head coach.  "He was in the rotation last year on our defensive line.  He is extremely strong and works very hard at practice and in the weight room.  He will be in the rotation to help anchor our defensive line."

Murphy started his athletic career in Spring Grove before spending his high school years at Green Lake, Wis. He and his family are once again living in Spring Grove.

Blaine Storlie (SG Male Athlete of the Year 2013) was a sophomore basketball player at Hamline University (St. Paul). As a 5-10, 175-pound reserve guard, he was one of the Pipers' best three-point shooters at 38.5%.

 "Blaine is one of our best shooters and hardest workers and is a great teammate," said head coach Jim Hayes. "He has a tremendous understanding of how we want to play and does a good job of putting himself in spots on the floor to be successful. He has decided to pursue education and coaching, and I know he will make a great teacher and coach!"

Zach Sanness (SG Class of 2013) anchored the offensive line as a freshman center for Vermillion Community College in Ely last fall. But he is on the 2015 roster at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Listed at 6-0, 320, Sanness seeks to earn a spot on the Knights' offensive line in his second season as a collegian.

Joining Sanness at Wartburg this fall is freshman receiver Dustin Vickerman, who is two-time SG Male Athlete of the Year.

Caleb Happel (SG co-Male Athlete of the Year 2014) continued his education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse  where his was a mainstay on the new club team for powerlifting.

"Caleb is a dedicated and extremely talented lifter," said head coach Andy Askow.  "Not only is he talented, but he's extremely selfless.  Many times at practices, I would find myself occupied helping one group of lifters, and Caleb would take time in the middle of his workouts to help his teammates.  

 "Caleb is one of the hardest working lifters I've ever coached.  He's always looking for more work.  His work ethic combined with his natural talent has propelled him to be one of the top lifters in the country.  In October he will be competing at the USAPL Raw National Championships for a spot on Team USA.  If he wins his weight class, he will be competing next year at the 2016 IPF Classic World Championships.  

                  "Caleb is a high caliber lifter, student, and teammate that is going to make a big impact on our sport in the future."

Editor's note: If any former local athletes playing college ball were omitted from this coverage, please contact Lee Epps at the Herald.