Mt. Olive gears up for national tournament

The team heads to Indiana later this week.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 8:02 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -Mount Olive Lutheran School is sending their boys basketball team to this year’s National Lutheran Tournament in Indiana.

It’s the first time in program history the team is heading to the national competition after qualifying by winning the Minnesota Lutheran State Tournament at Concordia St. Paul this past month.

“I think it’s just going to be a great experience. We’re the first ones from our school to ever do it. I think we’re going to go out there, have fun and play loose,” said Owen Birkholz, eighth grade point guard.

The team is one of 32 from all over the nation competing in the tournament, and Mt. Olive comes into play with a solid 26-3 record after taking the championship at three other tourneys this year.

“They’ve really continued to play better and better each week throughout the winter here. Really a unique opportunity for them. It’s been fun all the preparation leading up to it, and we can’t wait to get to Indiana,” said Greg Vandermause, assistant coach.

First up for Mt. Olive is the tournament’s host, St. Paul’s Lutheran of Fort Wayne coming up this Friday. While the main goal is to make a deep run at this year’s competition, it’s also a chance for the kids to be kids and enjoy some of the smaller things on the trip.

“It’s going to be warmer, it’s cold, it’s cold in Minnesota, just the ride and having fun on the bus. The games are going to be fun to. It’ll be great,” said Birkholz.

All the action from the first round of play starts Friday morning shortly after eight.