Although most everyone’s attention was on Wallace State’s softball team and its title run in Utah this past weekend, Aksel Olsen was busy securing his own national accolades at last week’s NJCAA Men’s Golf Championship in Lubbock, Texas.
The freshman from Norway carded four-day total of 281 at The Rawls Course, including a final round 67, to garner MVP honors and receive the Arnold Palmer Award for low-medalist. Olsen’s performance made him a shoe-in for the All-Freshman Team, as well as the All-American squad, which is comprised of just five golfers around the country.
“That’s quite an accomplishment for a freshman,” Wallace State golf coach Dan York said. “I’ve been here 26 years, and we’ve never had a guy make the All-American Team. And we’ve had some outstanding players come through here. What he did was just tremendous.”
With Olsen trailing by one shot with two holes to play, York told his freshman sensation he’d need to birdie at least one hole to get into a playoff.
After a gutsy par on No. 17, OIsen carded the birdie he needed on the par 5 18th hole to get into a playoff with Meridian’s T.J. Morgan. In the playoff, Olsen went on to make par on the extra hole, while Morgan bogeyed.
“He missed the green on 17 and had to make a 6-footer,” York said. “It was a relatively difficult golf course all week long. There was quite a bit of wind, too. Finishing the tournament at 7-under was quite good.”
Olsen’s performance helped the Lions to a seventh-place finish out of 24 teams. Jake Miller, who shot a total of 291, missed making the All-American Team by just two shots. Other scores included Michael Zierdt (297), Chris Atchley (299) and Patrick Twesme (305).
Despite finishing behind six teams, Wallace State missed out on first-place Central Alabama Community College by just 14 shots. The Lions actually led all squads by five shots midway through their third round before a so-so final 25 holes dropped them down the leaderboard.
With four freshman and one sophomore, York knows he’s got the potential for a good team down the road.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I think what’s unique is that four of the guys live within an hour from campus. We’ve gotten these good players out of our backyard. That’s good for the state of Alabama. All of my guys went out there and got tremendous experience. I can’t say enough about them. Hopefully, that will lead to huge dividends in the future.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.