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HR Awards: New London-Spicer's Shane Zylstra

Moments after Shane Zylstra turned the tide in a Class AAA state football semifinals game last November with a kick return for a touchdown, a Glencoe-Silver Lake coach jumped his kicker on the sideline, letting him know, in no uncertain terms, th...

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Moments after Shane Zylstra turned the tide in a Class AAA state football semifinals game last November with a kick return for a touchdown, a Glencoe-Silver Lake coach jumped his kicker on the sideline, letting him know, in no uncertain terms, that the ball should never be directed at such a game-breaking threat.
The frustrated coach probably knew later that his heat-of-the-moment tongue-lashing was a little unfair. The kid could have kicked the ball into the concession stand and the smooth and speedy Zylstra probably still would have found a way to take it back for a score.
Zylstra’s 81-yard kickoff return helped his Wildcats overcome a two-touchdown deficit to win the semifinal and play for a state championship for the second-straight year.
And it was just one defining moment among many in a superb prep career that makes Zylstra the Tribune’s Hengstler-Ranweiler Award winner as the area’s top senior male athlete.

Zylstra signed to play football at Minnesota State-Mankato this fall. The Mavericks are getting a slightly bigger and taller version of former MSM star Adam Thielen, who also played receiver and returned punts and kicks before landing a spot with the Minnesota Vikings.
Zylstra is 6-foot-4. 215 pounds with speed, strength and the well-honed basketball skills that have proven so valuable in the modern college and pro games.
In track, Zylstra competed in such diverse events as the 4x200 relay, all three jumping events, and in the shot put.
And he’s a low-volume guy. Zylstra doesn’t need to touch the ball a lot to get a lot done.
Zylstra averaged 7.54 yards and scored 12 touchdowns running the ball last fall. He averaged 14 yards on 49 receptions. And he averaged 29.3 yards on kick returns and almost 20 yards on punt returns. He intercepted two passes last season and returned one 58 yards for a touchdown.
Zylstra finished his prep career with 3,129 all-purpose yards and scored 34 touchdowns. He wasn’t just stuffing a stat sheet, either. The Wildcats were 28-9 in his three varsity seasons and twice played for the Class AAA state championship. His efforts earned him a Minnesota Mr. Football nomination.
In his junior year, Zylstra provided substance and thrills as he and the Wildcats won the Section 6AA championship and a spot in the state tournament.
Last season, as the team struggled to a 12-15 finish, Zylstra averaged 14.2 points, almost 6.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and almost 2.0 steals per game.
“Shane is an exceptional athlete,” said head coach Chad Schmiesing. “He is blessed with a high-level skill set and tremendous physical attributes. He is extremely versatile and can play every position effectively.”
In track and field, Zylstra won two Wright County Conference championships and six top-three finishes.
He won three section titles and had five top-three finishes.
He competed in four state meet events the last two years and placed fourth in the long jump this season.
Wildcats head football and track and field coach Dan Essler’s summation for Zylstra works in all three of his sports.
“Shane combines terrific natural ability with tremendous work ethic,” Essler said.

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