University of St. Thomas (Minn.) senior Michael Mortenson was a NCAA spring Elite 89 award winner in 2012. It is special because only 89 student-athletes are presented with the award each year, and Mortenson was the only men’s golfer from Division III, and one of three golfers, from all divisions, to receive to the award.
“Getting that award just proves a lot of things,” said Mortenson. “It doesn’t necessarily put St. Thomas on the map, but it just let’s people know where St. Thomas is. That was our first time being at the national championships, so it was definitely nice to win the award when I did.”
According to the NCAA, the Elite 89 award recognizes the true essence of a student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level at his or her sport, while achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers.
It is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.
When he got the award as a junior, the actuarial science major had a 3.935 GPA.
“It’s probably a little higher now (the GPA), because I did get all A’s my spring semester,” said Mortenson.
Student-athletes who are eligible are sophomores above who have participated in their sport for at least two years with their schools. They must be an active member of the team, traveling and competing at the championship.
He was medalist at the Stella Invitational in the spring, while incorporating a 69 into his game, which is his lowest competitive score. It was a great jump start for nationals.
There were 15 teams who made the cut at the 2012 NCAA National Championships, and St. Thomas was T16 and had missed the cut by one.
“It was a little unfortunate, but we had a great experience to be down there,” said Mortenson.
This years, before he graduates, he and the team still have some goals to meet. They want to make it back down to nationals this year, which is at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, where the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational was held this past week.
“It’s going to be tough since we lost our conference tournament last week,” said Mortenson. “We’re going to have to fight for an at large bid, and we’re already doing that by coming down here and trying to place well here at this big tournament.”
As for his personal goals, they haven’t shifted much.
“I just want to play more consistent golf in the spring, and help the team get to nationals (again).”
The Iola, Wis., native would love to play competitive golf after he graduates, but feels he can do more in the real world.
“I’m going to cut my losses and focus on real world stuff,” said Mortenson. “I want to be an actuarial, and go wherever work takes me. Since I’m graduating, I’m in the middle of interviewing for a bunch of jobs now, so hopefully one will come my way.”
“There are over 400,000 NCAA student- athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports,” says the NCAA.
Mortenson is one of those student-athletes.