Grant Achterkirch is a smart guy. A Big Nine Scholar Athlete while playing football at Owatonna High School, the 2022 graduate admits that college classes are a big step up.
The same can be said for football at the University of St. Thomas.
“It’s a lot more mentally taxing than high school was. It’s a lot of getting into the playbook… It’s a little more complex,” said Achterkirch in an interview with Todd Walkingstick on Owatonna Live’s Beyond the Game. He’s majoring in business and may minor in criminal justice as he explores his career interests.
Stepping into a Division One program was a bit eye-opening.
“I feel that was one of the biggest takeaways, just learning how things are run. Learning the program and the systems. It was more mental than it was physical. Coming into this next year, being able to have that knowledge under my belt, being able to focus now on physically what I have to do to get things done is going to be really big,” said Achterkirch.
Achterkirch was a three-sport athlete at OHS. One sport is a year-round endeavor at the Division One level. “It definitely was a lot right away, trying to figure out how to balance everything… It’s kind of like an overload but I love the sport,” he said.
The offseason included weightlifting, meetings, and film work. Achterkirch is listed at 222 pounds on the team website. He played at 197 pounds his senior year for the Huskies. He had a random jersey number change from 43 to 44, which he is fine with. He wore 12 for OHS.
He’s an inside linebacker for the Tommies. St. Thomas moved him outside for a short time, but ultimately moved him back.
“This spring I got switched back to the inside and I’ve been really enjoying that,” he said. The Tommies’ season opener is Sept. 2.
The dedication of Federated Field at Owatonna Stadium is Friday night as the Huskies host Hastings at 7 p.m. with a tailgate party beginning at 4:30 p.m. Activities Director Marc Achterkirch anticipates a big crowd.
“Hopefully, we can get a lot of excitement. That front plaza is beautiful, and it’s big enough to host a big tailgating event. And then people can flow into the gates from there to enter the stadium and go to the game,” he said.
Ceremonial coin toss
A big occasion calls for a special coin to mark the occasion. The school contacted Black Forest of Owatonna.
“It’s a unique design that will be used in the game, commemorated for the first home game that we will host on Sept. 1, and I think they have a lot of good uses for it. That’s obviously in combination with a great partner in Federated,” company President Joe Effertz told Owatonna Live’s Business Talk.
Effertz said the school initially ordered just one. The quantity went up as discussions continued, but the plan was still for a limited number.
Another reason to run
Retired coach Dave Chatelaine invites runners and walkers to join the Owatonna boys’ cross-country team for the “Run for the Loaves” to benefit Community Pathways. It starts at Blooming Grove United Methodist Church, west of Medford, on Saturday, Sept. 9.
The day will begin with a kids’ run at 9:15 a.m. followed by a four-mile walk or run. Go to bloominggroveumc.org to sign up.
Chatelaine also thanked those who took part in the inaugural Chatty 5K on Aug. 19. “Thank you for your participation in this event. It was quite an honor to see all of you there,” he said.
OwatonnaLive.com sports schedule:
Thursday, Aug. 31
OHS girls’ swim and dive vs. Austin, 6:30 p.m.
OHS boys’ soccer vs. Mankato West, 7 p.m.
Medford football vs. Cleveland, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 1
OHS football vs. Hastings, 7 p.m. [Federated Field dedication]
Blooming Prairie football vs. Rushford-Peterson, 7 p.m.