by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
It took a while for Ryan Gelle to break into varsity sports at Rogers because the Royals had a pretty good class ahead of him, especially in basketball. But Gelle was ready when his turn came. The 2013 graduate made all-Mississippi 8 in both basketball and baseball as a senior, putting up solid numbers in both.
This summer, Gelle has entered the workaday world with a physically demanding job in property management maintenance and sports is now secondary.
“I get home at five, go the ballpark at six for a game, and get him at nine, pretty tired,” said Gelle, not complaining. “I’m looking forward to starting college (at Anoka-Ramsey).”
A bit fatigued, Gelle hasn’t been smacking the ball as well as he did in the high school season but did bang out two doubles while pitching well in a 2-1 loss to Howard Lake his last time out.
This spring, the 6-foot, 190-pound first baseman batted .428, with 13 of his 28 hits going for extra bases. He knocked in 16 runs and scored 11 for the Royals (10-11).
“My gosh, he had 10 doubles, a triple, two homers, that’s a lot of power,” said coach Brian Harapat. “If we had more base runners he’d have had bigger RBI numbers. At first base, he made just one error this year and last, total. He pitched one game, too, against Zimmerman and got the win.”
That lone error was costly but Gelle made up for it. He booted one with bases loaded against Buffalo, giving the Bison a 2-1 lead, but regained the lead with a two-run double, and finished with a pair of two-baggers and four RBI.
“He’s a great kid, everything you’d want in a captain,” said Harapat. “He shows up every day, works hard and does his job. You wish you could put nine of him out there.”
Gelle was a JV player most of his junior year because Harapat had a senior (Austin Barbeln) at first base who was hitting well. Harapat called Gelle up for the last third of the season because “he was making so much noise” on the JV. He got two hits his varsity debut.
“Ryan was hitting about .600 for me on the JV,” said Ryan Gulben, Harapat’s assistant, and head Legion coach. “When he got called up, he contributed right away on the varsity.”
In basketball, Gelle was best known as a 3-point shooter, but had a good all-around presence with 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game on a 10-17 team. A good marksman, he made 35 percent outside the arc, and 75 percent at the line (36-for-48).
Gelle set team records for three-point shooting with 61 total, 15 straight games making at least one, and six in one game.
“The St. Francis game, definitely, when I got my career high,” said Gelle, asked about his hoops highlight. He netted 26 points that night, hitting 6-for-9 three’s.
Gelle said his 3-point accuracy grew from necessity.
“When I was young, playing against my brother, Alex, who’s a big football player, in the driveway, I didn’t want to drive on him,” said Gelle. “So I’d back up and shoot a three.”
Gelle said he’s not sure if he’ll resume his baseball career with the junior college or the Red Devils (town team), but he definitely made his mark his senior year at RHS.
THE GELLE SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Jerry and Carol; brothers Erik, 22, and Alex, 20 … Sports: basketball, baseball … College plans: Anoka-Ramsey, maybe baseball, major undecided
Favorite stuff — Classes: Accounting, and Total Fitness … TV shows: “Simpsons” and “Family Guy” … Movie: “Billy Madison” … Food: boneless wings with ranch dressing …. Drinks: Yojay, Gatorade … Teams: Vikes, Twins, Wild, Wolves … Athletes: Adrian Peterson, Joe Mauer … Hobby: playing golf, wallyball …. Wants to visit: Hawaii