Olson's steady approach a winner at WSU

By Pat Ruff

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Ronnie Olson

What's happening:Ronnie Olson is just eight hits away from becoming the all-time hits leader at Winona State. The former Century standout has been a four-year starter at second base for the Warriors, who are 36-13 and playing today in the NSIC Tournament in St. Cloud.

What's next:WSU plays Minnesota State, Mankato today in the double-elimination NSIC Tournament. WSU is 1-1 in the event.

Over there at second base for the Winona State baseball team is "Grandpa Olson."

The nickname is as simple as this: Considering how long Ronnie Olson has been the Warriors' every-day starting second baseman — four years — old age must have set in by now.

But the Rochester Century graduate sure doesn't play like a grandpa. WSU coach Kyle Poock ranks him among the top handful of second basemen this storied program has ever had.


"Ronnie's athletic, he knows the game, and he has unbelievably quick hands," said Poock, who's responsible for that "grandpa" tag. "He's an unbelievable player."

Olson is an unbelievable player who almost chose not to be a player at all out of high school. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound former baseball and basketball standout at Century had headier things on his mind entering college.

A terrific student who's majoring in finance at WSU, the soft-spoken and always under-control Olson wanted to make sure he stayed a standout student. So he wasn't so sure about jumping into athletics at the college level.

But it didn't take much convincing by Poock to make it happen. Olson had plenty of baseball momentum entering college. He played on a Century baseball team that won a state tournament, and a Rochester A's American Legion team that won a national championship.

Coached by baseball-basics stickler Keith Kangas at both stops, he'd been groomed for success.

"Really, the success I had at Century (and with the A's) just made me want more of it," Olson said.

So he said yes to Poock. And after five seasons in the WSU program, including being red-shirted his first year, he's never regretted it.

"I like the coaching staff here a lot, all my best friends are on the team and we've always been a pretty successful team — especially this year," Olson said.


For the first time since Olson has been manning second base at WSU, the Warriors have won more than 30 games. WSU is 36-13 after Thursday's loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference post-season tournament. Wednesday, it beat Southwest State 8-6 thanks in good part to Olson, who had two hits, including a first-inning home run.

Olson is now just eight hits away from becoming WSU's all-time hits leader, with at least one more NSIC tournament game left, then likely a berth in the regional tournament.

It could easily be argued that Olson has saved his best for last. Besides playing a stellar second base, he's batting .396, with a team-leading 20 doubles.

But it's the steadying influence that he provides that's proved as vital as anything.

Olson has never been one to show his emotions. And if he has any nerves while playing, you'd never know that, either.

He just plays.

"Ronnie never gets down on himself or any of our players," said teammate and roommate Evan Buhr. "Those are leadership things that everyone notices. He's 'Mr. Consistency.' You always know what you're going to get from Ronnie. He comes to play and he comes to succeed."

Olson has quietly managed to bring that approach to seemingly every facet of his life. He's an honor student, a baseball standout, and in the fall is getting married.


When asked if he was really ready for marriage — such a young guy and all — Olson had a quick response.

"You bet," he said.

No doubt, his bride is getting a good and seasoned one. We're talking about "Mr. Consistency." We're talking about "Grandpa Olson."

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