With 2020 comes a new year and a new decade, so we thought we’d take a look back at the previous ten years and compile a list of the greatest contributors of the decade to St. Ansgar’s superb athletic tradition.
It would be foolish to assume that only ten young men and women have exemplified the passion, dedication, character and success that has come to define Saints athletics. There were plenty of successful teams and athletes to pick from, and narrowing it down to just ten individuals was no easy task.
There were lots of individuals who performed well in just one or two sports, but we gave the advantage to those who played multiple sports and earned awards like all-conference selections or set school records.
So after much deliberation, here’s the EJ’s picks for the top athletes of the decade:
10. Jadyn Anderson – 2019
In order to crack the top 10, you’ve had to have played multiple sports, and played multiple sports well. And much like her little sister Hali is doing now, that’s exactly what the elder Anderson did. She was the best batter on the softball team, earning all conference selections in softball, basketball and volleyball, as well as qualifying for the state track meet. Anderson is currently playing basketball and softball at Loras College.
9. Jack Sievert – 2020
If there’s one sport St. Ansgar is known for, it’s football. And though Sievert also plays baseball and basketball, his 2019 football season alone was enough to get him on this list. He shattered pretty much every rushing record in school history, and led the Saints to their third semifinal appearance in four seasons. Sievert is a four-sport athlete that has earned all-district honors in football, as well as setting nine school records (pretty much all of the rushing ones).
8. Skyler Hulshizer – 2013
It’s not often that the left guard on the football team is also the punter, but those were the roles Hulshizer filled on the 2011 state championship team. Hulshizer is also the only Saint in this decade to place back-to-back years at the state wrestling meet, and also earned a few all-conference selections in baseball. Hulshizer was also the conference runner up and district runner up in wrestling, and earned All-State and All-District honors in football.
7. Hali Anderson – 2021
Though technically Anderson will only have played halfway through her junior season in this decade, the numbers she has put up in that time are still enough to make this list. She’s on pace to top 1000 assists in volleyball, she’s already on pace for breaking the career steals record in her junior season of basketball and will likely finish near the top of the all time scoring list. So she makes this decade’s top 10, and will probably be on the next one’s too. Anderson has earned All-Conference nods in softball, basketball and volleyball and is a sure bet to get a few more before she graduates.
6. Kelsie Willert – 2016
Perhaps the best Saint on this list at putting the basketball in the hoop, Willert was multi-sport athlete that especially shined in softball and basketball. The sharpshooter from Bolan was especially lethal behind the three-point line, setting records for most threes in a game and in a career. Like all great shooters are, Willert was also automatic from the free-throw line, having the highest shooting percentage from the stripe in school history. Between softball and basketball, Willert earned 5 all conference selections, and is currently wrapping up her collegiate career with the Grand View basketball team. Oh, and last summer she rode her bike the entire length of Route 66. Talk about an athlete.
5. Cael Halfman – 2012
With a rare combo of skill and athleticism, Halfman was a perennial starter on the basketball and baseball teams and had a knack on the diamond for turning what should have been singles or doubles into doubles and triples. Oh, and he was the quarterback for the state championship football team too. Halfman earned all conference honors in basketball, baseball and football, and set school records in the 4×100 in track, and steals and triples in baseball.
4. Kayla Hemann – 2011
Hemann was a back-to-back state champion in the discus, and set the school record in shot put. She was also the leading batter on the softball team her junior and senior seasons, swatting 10 home runs. In basketball, no Saint has grabbed more rebounds or scored more points per game in a season — she had four games of 25 or more points her senior year, the only Saint not named Lisa Kriener to do so. Hemann earned all conference nods in basketball, softball, and volleyball.
3. Ben Boerjan – 2017
Are there better football players on this list? Yes. Better baseball players? Sure. Basketball? Absolutely. But across the board, no one did it better than Boerjan. He played everything, and he played everything well. He was good at being good. Someday, he’s going to be that athletic uncle that no one can touch in a game or horse or in the annual backyard game of tag-football at Thanksgiving. Golf was where he really shined, going on to play in national tournaments with NIACC after graduating. Boerjan earned all conference honors in basketball, baseball, football, golf, and set the school record for most three-pointers scored in a basketball game.
2. Collin Kramer – 2019
Whatever the sport was, Kramer was going to play it and Kramer was going to lead the team. The 6’4” south-paw was arguably the best pitcher in school history, but Kramer was also the quarterback for a state-semi finalist football team, led the basketball team in scoring his senior season, and qualified a number of events for the state track meet. He went on to pitch for NIACC’s baseball program. Kramer earned all conference selections in basketball, football, helped set the sprint medley school record in track and played in the IHSBCA All-Star game in baseball.
1. Natalie Halfman – 2015
Natalie Halfman probably has the most remarkable individual achievement of the decade – a year after finishing runner up in four events as a junior, Halfman entered the 2015 State Track meet and took home 4 gold medals. As is the theme for the rest of this list, Halfman was a team leader who exemplified character and leadership, and found success in multiple sports. When she crossed the finish line to win her fourth gold, Halfman said she wasn’t even thinking about all the medals she’d just won – she could only think about how sad it was to run her last race in a red and white Saints jersey. Halfman earned all conference nods in softball, basketball, volleyball, and set 5 school records in track.
Elizabeth Jenkins, Autumn Brigham, Dayton Smith, Cole Willert