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HS LACROSSE: GI’s Hultgren has grown into role

By Nate Beutel
GRAND ISLAND — One look at Alex Hultgren and budding lacrosse star probably isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. He’s about 5-foot-10, maybe 140 pounds with that long, wavy hair that seems to be the trend with most teenagers.

Now, think back a year and you’ll find the model of where the Grand Island senior developed from, perhaps without the wavy hair.

“I learned a lot from Phil Wendt last year,” Hultgren said of his relationship with the 5-foot-7, 140-pound former all-Western New Yorker. “He taught me how to keep my composure, keep my body up and even draw penalties against bigger guys.”

While Wendt was perhaps best known for his scoring exploits, it was his leadership skills that left the biggest impression on the underclassmen, according to Hultgren.

“Phil was a great leader for us,” he said.

The same is now being said of Hultgren.

“Part of his leadership is that he takes advantage of every rep he gets, whether it’s in a practice or a game,” GI coach Steve Steck said of Hultgren. “Alex along with Mike Magaris always go full-go with everything. To have two seniors like that is a blessing.”

Those leadership qualities have been even more important this season as the Vikings feature about a half dozen sophomores that see significant playing time.

“Leadership is real important when the team is so new,” Hultgren said. “We have to teach them how to keep their composure and play at the varsity level.”

Many are willing to follow after watching Hultgren’s play on the field. With the graduation of top scorers Ryan Samland and Wendt, the scoring had to fall on the shoulders of someone else and Hultgren has taken on a big part of that responsibility. The x-attacker, who begins the Vikings’ offense from behind the net, has consistently been atop the score sheet in the early part of the season and Steck believes that’s a product of hard work, maturity and experience.

“He played all offseason and put a ton of work into it, but a big part of it was that he grew physically,” the coach said. “He’s truly that quarterback-type in that knows where everyone should be and what everyone should be doing on every play and that’s a big reason he’s so successful out there.”

Hultgren admitted that he’s been having a blast this year, getting a chance to both put the ball in the net and set up his teammates more. But like any good leader, he was quick to point out that the team has plenty of work to do if it wants to be a legitimate threat come playoff time.

“If we can get all of our players together, get our heads right and have the younger guys keep adjusting to the varsity game, I think we can make some noise in the playoffs,” he said.

Hultgren plans to attend the University at Buffalo to study pharmacy next fall. He also hopes to join the UB club lacrosse team, one of the better club programs in the country.