St. Thomas connection

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 20, 1999

Back in the fall of 1995, they were integral members of an Albert Lea High School football team that revived memories of the program’s glory days.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

Back in the fall of 1995, they were integral members of an Albert Lea High School football team that revived memories of the program’s glory days.

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It’s no surprise they were still playing the game four years later.

Steve Nolander, Marcus Ludtke, Will Bryant and Mike Westland have been members of the St. Thomas University football team that recently finished its season 7-3 overall and 7-2 for second place in the MIAC.

Their contributions to the team have varied, but Tommies coach Don Roney said all four have been welcome additions to the St. Thomas squad.

&uot;We’ve been fortunate to have the Albert Lea players in the St. Thomas football program,&uot; said Roney. &uot;Not only are they very good college football players and students, but they work hard and do things right – on the field and off. They’ve been a credit to their community and their families.&uot;

Nolander and Westland have enjoyed the most success at St. Thomas as members of the varsity team since their freshman season.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Nolander, a senior co-captain this fall, earned a host of honors last season when he was named a third team All-American and first team All-Region defensive back by Football Gazette. His eight interceptions led the MIAC and ranked fifth nationally in Division III.

This year Nolander was again a key member of the MIAC’s No. 1 ranked defense, earning first team All-MIAC recognition for the second year in a row. He finished the season with two interceptions, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, one blocked kick, 2.5 sacks, 46 tackles and five pass break-ups.

Nolander’s 16 career interceptions is second in school history. He also returned three for touchdowns, recovered six fumbles and totaled 188 tackles.

&uot;Steve just has a nose for the ball and came up with so many big plays throughout his career,&uot; said Roney. &uot;He’s been a part of four consecutive 7-2 finishes in the conference and an overall record of 30-10.&uot;

So was Westland, until an injury sidelined him this fall. He received a medical hardship and hopes to return for the 2000 season.

Westland, a 6-2, 230-pound fullback/kicker, led the Tommies in 1998 with 47 pass receptions for 515 yards and a touchdown, going 4-for-4 on field goals and 21-for-28 on extra points.

He was first team All-MIAC, third team All West Region and made the MIAC academic honor roll. For his career, Westland has 79 pass receptions for 792 yards and four touchdowns.

&uot;We really missed mike this season,&uot; said Roney. &uot;We look forward to his return next fall.&uot;

Ludtke, a junior running back, transferred to St. Thomas from Concordia-Moorhead, where he rushed for 908 yards and a touchdown in 20 games.

As the Tommies’ starter this year, Ludtke ran for 615 yards on 204 carries while missing one game with an injury. He scored five touchdowns.

&uot;Marcus gave us a boost,&uot; said Roney. &uot;He battled hard for his yardage this season.&uot;

Bryant finished his college career at St. Thomas after walking on at the University of Minnesota. He had one reception for 23 yards last year.

&uot;Will made a good impression in his two years with us,&uot; said Roney.

And while their playing time may have varied, Roney said the four former Tigers have at least one thing in common: &uot;All of these young men will be successful in life.&uot;