Elstad, Noeldner Lead by Example
Owatonna seniors (now graduates) Kaia Elstad and Isaiah Noeldner closed out their high school careers with a pleasant surprise. Each received the 110% Award for the 2019-2020 school year. Activities Director Marc Achterkirch said the award goes to an individual that "goes above and beyond, overcomes obstacles, does great things. It's not just what you did as an athlete but who you are as a person, your leadership, your character." They recently received the honors during a coaches caravan that also recognized other top athletes at OHS.
In accepting the award Noeldner said, "I wasn't expecting this at all...It's an incredible honor. There's so many people that could have gotten this and so many people who also deserve the recognition for this for hard work."
He overcame a serious knee injury to get back to the football field just in time for the playoffs. Noeldner qualified for state wrestling individually, in addition to lifting the team to state with a dramatic pin during the section finals in February. "Persistence and just knowing you only have a little bit of time...If you're willing to put in the effort you can do you want."
Elstad, "It feels good to be recognized by all the different coaches that I never played for but maybe my leadership has shown through in different ways."
"I was only a captain in soccer my senior year, but I've definitely always strived to be a leader even without the badge. And the same way in track. I always like to look out for the younger girls. Because sports in this town are only going to be built if the program is good." She was a captain for track as well.
Noeldner and Elstad did not know they were receiving the awards until the coach caravan rolled up to their homes May 28. Noeldner had been told by his mom he needed to be presentable for a zoom orientation for his upcoming time at the US Air Force Academy. He was a bit confused by this story since he didn't remember his brother having anything like that. Elstad was vaguely told she needed to stay home. She thought it might have been a delayed birthday surprise.
Elstad will attend the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse with the plan of majoring in biology. Noeldner plans to study aeronautical engineering or statistical analysis or astronomical engineering.