2021 DFJ MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: TYLER OLSON
OLSON IS A GENERATIONAL TALENT AT WEBSTER CITY
“I can’t be out here and not hit at least one shot,” he said as he threw a neon green golf ball down on the ground.
With his 7-iron in hand, minus a practice swing, he makes perfect contact and watches the ball climb toward the green. Pulled slightly, it crashes down left of the putting surface, but all in all, not bad.
And to think, he only picked up the game 16 months ago, and less than 14 after his first round he was leading the Webster City boys’ golf team at a Class 3A sectional tournament in May.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. That’s vintage Tyler Olson, a kid that makes whatever sport he plays look easy. He’s been doing it for years.
“I guarantee if he went out for tennis, give him a year and he’d be really good at that too,” Marty McKinney, the WCHS boys’ basketball head coach, said. “Bowling, I’ve heard of him beating everybody at that, he’s just that type of kid. Wrestling might be the only sport I’d say he wouldn’t want to do.”
Olson was so good as a junior that he was named the 2020 Daily Freeman-Journal Male Athlete of the Year 12 months ago. And today, he becomes just the second male to win the award twice, joining former WCHS standout Gavin Dinsdale who claimed the honor in 2015 and again in 2016.
Again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the news did put a smile on Olson’s face.
“It really does mean something to me,” Olson said of being a repeat winner. “It’s a one-person award, but all of my teammates are a part of this because, without them, I wouldn’t be here. All of the numbers, all of the awards, they helped me get those.”
The laundry list of accolades during the 2020-21 school year speak to Olson’s talent across a multitude of sports.
He was named a Class 3A first-team all-state football player for a second time.
He earned a third all-North Central Conference accolade on the basketball court.
He picked up golf and was a part of a conference championship team and 3A district qualifier.
He added to his legend on the baseball diamond with a third consecutive first-team all-NCC honor, and he’ll surely add a third straight all-state honor next week.
Simply put, athletes like Olson don’t come along every year. In many ways, he’s a once-in-a-generation talent, and he’s been that way for four years.
“You 100 percent take for granted how good he is,” McKinney said. “Tyler was a kid that you kept hearing that he’s so good when he was younger, and there’s just so much pressure put on him to go out and perform every night.”
Maybe that’s why Olson now says that golf is his favorite sport, topping even baseball, which he’ll play at the next level at Iowa Central Community College. For several months in the spring, that pressure valve was released and it brought him a sense of peace that has made him an avid golfer.
“Honestly, it’s just a sport where I can relax and it’s not high pressure,” he said. “If was my first year and most people didn’t even know I golfed. So it’s not like they asked me to shoot a 36 in every meet.”
That wasn’t the case this summer, as he was called on — expected actually — to dominate each time he stepped onto the mound for WCHS. If the pressure bothered him, he never let it show, as he solidified his standing as one of the state’s premier pitchers. An 8-0 record and 0.43 ERA only told one part of the story though; when he pitched, the entire team lit up with a feeling that it could beat anyone. That’s what he brought to the table.
And his career numbers on the baseball field are ridiculous, borderline unbelievable if you didn’t see it with your own two eyes. Over three seasons in the WCHS pitching rotation, he compiled a 27-1 record and 0.62 ERA with 273 strikeouts against only 35 walks. Had his junior season not been shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s little doubt that he would have reached 300 strikeouts.
Olson just shrugs at the numbers though. How’s he supposed to react?
“I just go out and pitch and teams don’t score, and that happened so many times,” he said matter-of-factly. “When they do score a run, that’s when I notice, but not when they don’t score.”
Olson was the North Central Conference Most Valuable Player, even though that award isn’t handed out, and it wasn’t even close.
He takes a nonchalant approach to his future on the diamond though. He has his reasons for picking ICCC and maybe he’ll venture out to a larger school in a few years. Or maybe he’ll be content to call it a career.
“It’s not my biggest motivator,” he said. “It’s two years (at ICCC) and see where that takes me. Who knows, I may not even like college baseball. Or I may love it and try to turn it into a whole career.”
Football and basketball are not great loves of his, but he played them anyway and thrived.
Admittedly, he thought about giving up football prior to his junior season — a three-month span in which he intercepted 12 passes and became one of the most feared safeties in 3A. It was much of the same this past fall, as opponents shied away from throwing in his direction. He still picked off three balls and vaulted into the No. 13 position all-time in the state of Iowa with 17 career interceptions.
Much like baseball, he could make it look so easy on the basketball floor when he wanted to. On the nights where he decided to take over, he did. He could score, pass, rebound, play defense, anything and everything. And when called on to win a game in the final seconds against Waverly-Shell Rock in January, he didn’t even blink.
That shot? He buried it from the top of the key at the buzzer and was mobbed by his teammates.
That’s Tyler Olson.
“He’s probably in the top three or four best kids purely athletically that I’ve ever been around,” McKinney said.
He’s one of the best athletes to ever suit up for Webster City, that’s for sure.
THE OLSON FILES, 20-21 EDITION
A look at the highlights of the senior year for Webster City’s Tyler Olson, who competed in football, basketball, golf and baseball for the Lynx.
•Overall: Tyler Olson was a first-team all-state (Class 3A) defensive back for the second straight season. Had 3 interceptions and 24 tackles, and as a wide receiver on offense he caught 11 passes for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also completed 2 passes for 69 yards and another TD. His 17 career INTs are tied for 13th all-time in the state of Iowa (11-player).
•Aug. 28, 2020: Kicked off his senior season with a 32-yard TD reception in Webster City’s 21-7 win over Spencer.
•Sept. 11, 2020: An interception, 4 tackles and 2 catches for 15 yards helped WCHS sneak by Ballard in the rain, 8-7.
•Oct. 9, 2020: A TD catch and an interception aided WCHS in its regular season finale pasting of Boone, 69-14.
•Oct. 23, 2020: Another TD reception and another INT were part of the Lynx first-round playoffs win over Mason City, 41-29.
•Oct. 30, 2020: He can throw too … 1 for 1 for 22 yards, 3 catches that covered 45 yards, and also 51⁄2 tackles as WCHS got by Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 28-21, to reach the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
•Nov. 6, 2020: Another pass completion, this one for 47 yards and a TD, and also 2 catches for 28 yards in a season-ending 23-14 loss to Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley.
•Overall: A third-team all-NCC selection after averaging 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
•Dec. 18, 2020: A 19-point, 8-assist effort in a 61-56 loss to Algona.
•Jan. 4, 2021: 19 more points, not to mention 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in a 52-49 loss to St. Edmond.
•Jan. 5, 2021: Erupted for 24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists, as WCHS throttled Greene County, 51-36.
•Jan. 16, 2021: A 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer gave WCHS a 53-52 win over Waverly-Shell Rock.
•Jan. 22, 2021: Poured in 19 points and dished out 7 assists in a 72-62 loss to CGD.
•Overall: Was a member of Webster City’s conference tournament winning team and played in the postseason.
•May 10, 2021: Shot a 96 at the NCC tournament, as WCHS claimed the league title at the Fort Dodge Country Club.
•May 14, 2021: Shot a team-best 80 at the Class 3A sectional meet to help WCHS advance to districts.
•May 21, 2021: Posted a 90 at the Class 3A district meet, as the Lynx finished fifth in the team standings.
•Overall: A unanimous first-team all-NCC pitcher, and a Class 3A first-team all-district player. Went 8-0 on the mound with a 0.43 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 642⁄3 innings. At the plate, he hit .414 with 22 RBIs.
•June 2, 2021: Went 61⁄3 innings on the mound and struck out 14 batters in a 6-3 win over Clear Lake. Also laced 2 singles and drove in a run.
•June 7, 2021: A complete-game 3-hitter with 6 Ks in a 10-0 rout of Algona.
•June 16, 2021: With the NCC lead on the line, handcuffed Humboldt in an 11-1 victory. A complete-game 1-hitter with 12 Ks, and also 1 for 2 at the plate with an RBI.
•June 21, 2021: Clear Lake again, and another pitching gem — 7 innings, 3 hits, 8 Ks, in a 10-1 victory. Throw in 3 hits at the plate too for good measure.
•June 30, 2021: His first no-hitter of the season in a 10-0 romp over St. Edmond. 9 strikeouts too.
•July 5, 2021: Gave up 2 first inning hits … and then nothing else in a 3-1 win over Humboldt. The line — 7 innings, 2 hits, 9 Ks.
•July 16, 2021: The third no-no of his career in a Class 3A substate quarterfinal. Struck out 10 in a 10-0 win over Eagle Grove.
•July 21, 2021: His final prep game was vintage Olson — 8 innings, 9 Ks and just 1 earned run allowed against W-SR.
DFJ MALE AOY WINNERS
Presented for the first time in July of 2014, 8 males have won the DFJ Athlete of the Year award. Here are the winners.
•2014: Trevor Ullestad, South Hamilton.
•2015: Gavin Dinsdale, Webster City.
•2016: Gavin Dinsdale and Alec Fuhs, Webster City.
•2017: Drew Fielder, Webster City.
•2018: Logan Peters, South Hamilton.
•2019: Drake Doolittle and Dylan Steen, Webster City.
•2020: Tyler Olson, Webster City.
•2021: Tyler Olson, Webster City.