By Cara L. Dempski
While many Boyceville and Glenwood City High School athletes are hanging up their equipment for the season and on their high school careers, there are others who are looking forward to college careers.
[emember_protected] The Bulldogs and Hilltoppers have sent some athletes on to college-level competition in recent years. Boyceville’s Maddy Bygd just completed her freshman season with the Hamline University Pipers softball team, while Bulldog thinclad Zach Klassen has exhausted his eligibility with the track and field team at Michigan Tech and will be focusing on his academics for the remainder of college.
Glenwood City Hilltopper Jacob Hierlmeier golfed his sophomore season at MacMurray College in 2016-2017, and his coach said the Highlanders would not have been able to compete with the top conference teams without him.
Right now, Bygd is the only one who will continue with her current team in the coming academic years.
Hamline University’s head softball coach, James Rubbelke, said Maddy Bygd was a great teammate and student in her first year of college.
“I do know she had a 4.0 GPA in the first semester,” Rubbelke noted. “I am still waiting for her second semester grades to come out.”
The Pipers’ coach said Bygd is a strong, athletic player he moved around a lot early in practice in order for her to continue improving her softball skills. The NCAA Division III team competes as part of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which indicates a higher level of play than the former Bulldog was accustomed to.
Rubbelke wanted her to get used to the new intensity, and knew it would take her some time. He noted Bygd is an extremely hard worker with a positive attitude, and she did not back down when she was given the chance to play.
The Hamline coach first met Bygd when she attended a school visit at the university. He said he saw her play in a regular game during the 2016 season, and made note of her catching and all-around athletic skills. He voiced belief players from small schools have some advantages over other prospects.
“The good thing about small school players is that most of them play more than one sport,” Rubbelke explained. “That makes them good athletes.”
Bygd went to the plate 10 times in 10 games for the 2017 season. She is credited with two hits and one RBI in her first year of college play.
Klassen just completed his final year of eligibility at Michigan Tech, but he clearly left his mark while he was there.
His former coach, Corey Day of Boyceville, said the vaulter ranks third in school history with a height of 15-05 in the pole vault.
The Huskies’ head track coach Jake Isaacson had nothing but good things to say about the former Boyceville trackster when contacted.
“Zach is awesome!” Isaacson stated to open his emailed message. “It is unfortunate for us that he has exhausted is eligibility, but he has been an absolute pleasure as a student-athlete.”
The former Bulldog may no longer be eligible to compete as a Husky, but he went out with a bang in his final season. Not only was Klassen one of the team’s captains, but he broke a school record in decathlon, hit an NCAA provisional qualifying mark, for which he finished the season 30th as a Division II decathlete, and provided a combination of tough-love leadership while being a “giant goofball.”
Isaacson said Klassen, who is returning to the Boyceville area this summer to complete a mechanical engineering internship at 3M in Menomonie, will assist the Michigan Tech team with fall training before he graduates with a bachelor of science in December 2017.
Klassen’s record-setting decathlon earned him 6428 points total.
MacMurray College golf coach Derek James seemed disappointed to be losing Jacob Hierlmeier for the 2017-2018 golf season.
“Jacob has been a great addition to the Highlander golf team,” James noted. “Since arriving, he has been at the top spot of our golf team for the last two years.”
Hierlmeier, who just completed his second year at the Jacksonville, Illinois, college, carried a respectable 76.5 scoring average and was in the top 20 of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference each year he played.
James noted the Highlanders would not have competed among the conference’s top teams if not for Hierlmeier’s leadership. The second-year student also provided a solid academic backbone for the team, lifting the golf squad to one of the highest team GPAs on campus.
The former Hilltopper golfer is leaving MacMurray for another school after deciding to pursue a degree in education, a field which the Illinois school does not offer. [/emember_protected]