By Jim Rueda
The Free Press
Minnesota State junior transfer Stetson Olson would like to say he hit the ground running when he first joined the baseball team last fall, but that’s not quite the way it happened.
The native of Renton, Wash., transferred to MSU this year after two seasons at Washington State University. When he arrived he soon realized he had a lot more to do than just pick up a glove and bat and join the team.
“I showed up with two suitcases and that was it,” he said. “I didn’t have a place to live, I couldn’t get into my (sports management) major, and I didn’t know anybody on the team.”
Olson ended up sharing a one-bedroom studio apartment near Madison Avenue with fellow transfer Chris Williams of Nebraska. He slept on an air mattress on the floor until they finally round a more conventional apartment near campus in October.
Although he had not stepped foot on campus until he arrived last fall, he never second-guessed his decision to come.
“I knew it was going to be OK,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was a freshman. I had played two years of college ball in Washington so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when I got here.
“The transition was pretty smooth. The camaraderie clicked in right away and I was feeling pretty good by the time we started back in this spring.”
Olson, who took over the first base spot right away, is currently fourth on the team in batting with a .339 average. He leads the team with 34 runs scored, is second in doubles (10), first in home runs (7), second in RBIs (32) and second in slugging percentage (.589).
Three years ago, Olson batted .509 as a senior Kentridge High School just outside of Seattle. He was the Seattle Times all-area third baseman of the year and was a first-team Washington all-state selection.
He was recruited by Washington State as a junior and committed to the Cougars the summer before his senior season. He realized right away at WSU that he didn’t feel comfortable in the program. He had what he calls “philosophical differences” with the coach.
“I probably should have left after my freshman season, but I decided to stick it out another year,” he said. “By the time that second year was over I knew I wanted to be elsewhere.”
While Olson was playing summer ball for a Canadian team in the West Coast League, he let it be known that he was looking to transfer. One of the guys on the team knew MSU assistant coach Adam Christ, and, as soon as Olson received his release from WSU, the two started talking.
“The more I researched MSU the more I like it,” Olson said. “It’s a winning program with good coaches and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
Olson committed without ever taking a visit to Minnesota. He was unable to get into the sports management program right away but was admitted after his first semester.
MSU head coach Matt Magers said Olson has proved to be a good fit.
“We knew if we gave him a chance to play regularly that he’d be successful,” Magers said. “He’s a switch hitter who can play first or third and has some raw power that gives him the ability to hit it out of the park from both sides.
“He meshed with the guys pretty quickly. He’s an outdoorsman, and we have a lot of guys like that on the team.”
The way he sees it, Olson is glad he decided to come to Mankato.
“We’re starting to play pretty good ball, and I see us going on a roll the next month or however long it takes,” he said. “Our goal is to win the world series and I don’t see anybody stopping us.”