Area Male Athlete: Ehnstrom inching closer to Aitkin record
Nathan Ehnstrom has his sights set for the top.
And the top is achievable for the Aitkin Gobblers’ senior.
Ehnstrom became the school’s all-time leading boys basketball scorer during a 52-50 loss to Braham Jan. 13. The guard scored 19 points to surpass Nick Sundholm’s record of 1,292.
After a few more games, Ehnstrom now stands at 1,370 career points and he’s got Emily Mehr’s school record of 1,564 in sight.
But the varsity veteran isn’t losing sight of helping his team have one of its most successful seasons in years.
“For this season, I wanted to be above .500 or better for sure,” said Ehnstrom. “Right now it’s awesome because we’re just playing together. We came together as a team the night we played Braham. It just showed us we can play with the top teams. We proved to ourselves we can play with very good teams and be a very good team ourselves.”
The senior wasn’t done adding to his resume after the Braham game. In Aitkin’s 102-47 blowout of Ogilvie, the senior tallied 30 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and six steals.
He hit the game-winning free throws in Aitkin’s 68-67 win over Pine City Tuesday.
Ehnstrom finished with 28 points, six rebounds, and six assists in pushing Aitkin’s record to 7-8 at the time.
“I’ll say this about Nathan, he’s always been an amazing 3-point shooter,” said Aitkin head coach Jordan Moss. “He’s always had a knack for it and he’s eight 3-pointers away from 300 for his career. He’s really close to that and he’s already in the top 10 for the state record. When he gets to 300, I believe, that will put him sixth or seventh all-time in the state.
“But he’s always been a good shooter. This year, he’s really developed an ability to get to the rim. He can then pull up for a short jumper, get to the line, make the layup or find an open teammate. That’s what has made him so hard to defend this year.”
Last season, Ehnstrom finished with 18.3 points per game, while shooting 38 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3-point and 82 percent from the line. He added 3.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game.
Ehnstrom missed the first six games of the basketball season with a broken left wrist that he suffered early in the football season. Luckily, Ehnstrom is right-handed and could work on his shot even with a cast on his hand.
That hasn’t stopped Ehnstrom from going after the school’s all-time scoring record. Aitkin has 11 more regular-season games and at least one playoff game. Ehnstrom would have to average 16.2 points per game. He’s currently averaging 18.9.
“For sure it’s still my goal,” said Ehnstrom. “I think I need 195 points and we have 11 games, plus the playoffs. But for sure it was hard sitting out those first few games.”
The three-sport athlete hopes to play baseball next season.
“I don’t know if he’s a 4.0 student, but I do know he’s planning on going into the medical field,” said Moss. “He’s a very academic-minded kid. He’s a quarterback and a pitcher and a point guard so he’s a leader on and off the field. His savvy for sports and academics is very high. That’s part of what made him so successful so early was because he had such a good IQ in general. He just flourished in that category.
“He’s usually the smartest kid on the court. You can’t replace a kid like him. You can trust him when he has the ball in his hands. You never worry about him.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Zach Struss, Pine River-Backus, finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals against Menahga and scored 14 against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Eric Blaha, Verndale, finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds against Sebeka.
James Kveton, Verndale, scored 21 points against Pillager.
Connor Uselman, Pillager, scored 28 points against Verndale.
Sebastian Sowada, Little Falls, scored 20 points against St. Cloud Cathedral.
Daniel Hudrlik, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 22 points against Esko.
Hockey: Thomas Miller, Little Falls, scored two goals and two assists against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Wrestling: Sam Roring and Allen Bast, Aitkin, finished the week 6-0.
Cole Grinsteinner, Crosby-Ironton, finished the week 7-0.
Evan Woitalla and Jordan Goebel, Pierz, finished the week 7-0.
Anthony Kern, Zack Waln Andy Bounds and Dillon Card, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale, won individual titles at the New London-Spicer Invite.