SPASH’s Shurbert-Hetzel commits to run at Division II St. Cloud State
During a crowded ceremony in the SPASH South Commons
Thursday, April 21, Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) senior Autum
Shurbert-Hetzel made her college choice official.
Shurbert-Hetzel signed a National Letter of Intent for the NCAA Division
University (Minn.), where she will
compete in cross country and track next school year.
“I’m really excited for what’s to come,” said
Shurbert-Hetzel. “And then to have everyone here, was just a great feeling for
“It’s well deserved,” said SPASH girls cross country head
coach Mike Olson, who also serves as the co-head coach of the SPASH girls track
team. “She’s a great athlete; she can do just about any sport she wanted to.
“Fortunately she chose cross country, and this year track,”
he said. “So I was excited to have her.”
Shurbert-Hetzel followed in the footsteps of her older
sister Alyssa and older brother Cole as a runner for SPASH, where she made the
varsity cross country team as a freshman in 2012.
After placing eighth overall at the Wisconsin Valley
Conference (WVC) Meet, Shurbert-Hetzel finished second overall at the Sectional
Meet two weeks later to help SPASH earn a trip to the WIAA Division 1 State
The Panthers went on to take 12th as a team at state, while
she finished as the team’s top runner in 41st overall.
“I’ve been coaching her since she was in seventh grade, and
I actually knew her before from her older sister,” said Mike Olson. “But right
from the get-go she was a major contributor to our success.”
The SPASH girls cross country team earned its second
consecutive trip to state during Shurbert-Hetzel’s sophomore year, where the
Panthers placed eighth in the team standings, while she finished 40th overall.
SPASH advanced to state again during her junior year, where
Shurbert-Hetzel finished 25th overall, as the Panthers had 127 points to finish
as the WIAA Division 1 State Runner-up behind Eau Claire Memorial (118).
“Sophomore year as a team, we improved our bond,” said
Shurbert-Hetzel. “And then junior year, it was really exciting, because that’s
what we practiced for.
“We trained and ran together, and I felt that our team was a
lot closer that year,” she said. “And knowing that we got to go to state and
got runner-up, really was a big eye-opener for us, to see the talent that we
have as a team.”
As a senior last fall, Shurbert-Hetzel finished second at
the WVC Meet to lead the Panthers to their fourth consecutive Conference Title.
However, SPASH finished third at Sectionals to just miss a
trip to the State Meet, while Shurbert-Hetzel was eighth overall to qualify as
an individual for state, where she finished 83rd in her final high school cross
“Academic All-State, All-Conference all four years, just an
outstanding competitor,” said Mike Olson. “She’s been a leader for us, and
leads by example.
“She did the summer running, she’s an outstanding student
and she just works hard all of the time,” he said.
“I’m going to miss the SPASH cross country team, because I
made a lot of great memories over the years,” said Shurbert-Hetzel. “And I’m
going to treasure it a lot, and hopefully many more will come through college.”
Shurbert-Hetzel also started for the last three years on the
SPASH girls soccer team, where she earned Honorable Mention All-WVC honors as a
freshman and sophomore and was a Second Team All-WVC selection last year as a
junior, when she finished second in the conference in scoring (29 points) and
As she began to draw interest to run in college, though, she
decided to join the SPASH girls track team this spring for her senior season,
instead of playing soccer.
“I figured, ‘why not make the switch now, to get me ready
for college?’” said Shurbert-Hetzel. “And it’s pretty different, because the
distance is shorter (than cross country), and my coaches are still putting me
in different races to see where I fit in.
“But you have more areas that you can run in, which I think
is nice,” she said.
“It’s a great addition, and I was just ecstatic when I heard
that she was going to come out for track,” said SPASH girls track co-head coach
Nate Olson. “What’s cool about her is that she is such a good athlete that she
can do anything from the 100-meter dash all the way to the two-mile, and she’d
probably be varsity in any of them.
“We can plug her in anywhere, and she can really help the
team,” he said.
While looking at colleges, Shurbert-Hetzel also considered
NCAA Division III schools University
(UW-Whitewater) and UW-Platteville and NCAA Division II Winona State (Minn.), before she chose
St. Cloud State, where she plans to study
criminal justice and pursue a career as a police officer.
“When I went to St.
Cloud, the campus is really nice and looked welcoming,
and I could picture myself being there,” said Shurbert-Hetzel. “And then the
coaches were really up front, and they seemed really nice and knew what they
Mike Olson said it’s been a real pleasure to coach
Shurbert-Hetzel for four years, while both of her track head coaches expect her
to be able to contribute right away at St. Cloud State.
“She’ll do a great job,” said Nate Olson. “She’s a hard
worker, she’s got the right mentality, and I know that she’ll fit in great with
“She’s going to have a blast with her new team up at St. Cloud, and she’ll be
definitely pushing for varsity spots up there right away,” he said.
“Running-wise, she’s fast and she’s got endurance,” said
Mike Olson. “It’s one of those rare talents, so I think she’s going to be a
major contributor at St. Cloud
“If she keeps working like she has been, she’s going to
continue to improve, and get better and better every year,” he said. “I feel her best is still yet to come.”
Shurbert-Hetzel said she will miss the coaching staff, the
team atmosphere and all of the team traditions at SPASH, while she thanked her
parents Don and Cindi for all of their support over the years.
“They helped me a lot,” said Shurbert-Hetzel of her parents.
“Without them, I wouldn’t get to places for practice and stuff, and they’ve
kind of been like my backbone in this.
“They always helped push me, and I knew they believed in me
and they don’t doubt me,” she said. “They were really there for me, to help me,
and they got me into sports. So without them, I don’t know where I’d be.”