From throwing a 50 pitch bull pen to swimming a 50-meter freestyle, practice days have become pretty hectic for Ryan Gunderson, Grosse Pointe senior.
“Ryan was born a natural athlete,” said Mike Gunderson, Ryan Gunderson’s father. “He doesn’t get it from me; I was never much of an athlete. He has always worked extremely hard at sports because it’s what he loves.”
Ryan Gunderson has been a standout in both swimming and baseball. In high school, Ryan Gunderson achieved All-American status for swimming and All-State in baseball. As a Briton, Gunderson is a two-time second team All-MIAA pitcher, and as a swimmer he holds four school records. According to Mike Gunderson, Ryan Gunderson has been able to achieve these accomplishments due to a great work ethic that began at an early age.
“When Ryan was growing up we would often walk a few blocks down to the city ball park and play catch or I would hit fly balls to him,” Mike Gunderson said. “A lot of the time we would be down there for hours. I would usually be the one that would have to quit because I was so tired, but he would never want to,” Mike Gunderson said.
Ryan Gunderson’s work ethic has not diminished through the years. Of the four school records Ryan Gunderson holds in swimming, two were set his first-year at Albion, and he has been named All-MIAA second team twice.
According to Mike Gunderson, watching his son’s sporting events is something in which he takes great pride.
“Watching Ryan compete is more fun than anything else I do. We are very proud of how hard he has worked to be very good in two sports,” Mike Gunderson said.
Ryan Gunderson started swimming at the community swimming pool and joined the city swim team, at a very young age.
“Ryan has really fast reflexes and is very strong. This along with a predominance of fast twitch muscles allows him to go very fast for short distances,” said Keith Havens, head swim coach. “This also has its disadvantages because he has trouble with longer distances.”
After losing a very close championship race last season for the MIAA finals, Ryan Gunderson is determined to come back this year and fulfill his goals of being the MIAA champion.
“Last season I missed first place by 0.05 seconds at the MIAA meet. That was really tough to be that close and just barley miss it,” Ryan Gunderson said. “This year I really want to win the MIAA and qualify for nationals. That is something I have never done before.”
After the MIAA championships on Feb. 21, Ryan Gunderson’s season is not over. Ryan Gunderson is also working for a spot on the first team All-MIAA in baseball. Ryan Gunderson has been twice named to the All-MIAA second team.
“I want to do well in both sports, but baseball is more of a priority because I really want to play at the next level. It’s just going to come down to how hard I work and how well I play,” Ryan Gunderson said.
With his teammates behind him, Ryan Gunderson will enter the 2009 season looking to improve last year’s ERA of 2.66, which was fourth best in the MIAA.
“If you want a guy to go in and throw six or seven innings and give the team the best chance to win, he is the guy you want on the mound,” said Sam Prentice, Novi junior. “A lot of younger players will look up to him to see what it takes to win games in the MIAA.”
Whether Gunderson ends his senior year with a 50-meter freestyle championship or being drafted in the MLB, this year will be a year of challenge, and no one knows that better than Gunderson.