Holzhueters re-unite at MLC gym tonight

Story courtesy of Mike Gibbons, MLC Sports Information Director

NEW ULM – Martin Luther College junior Galen Holzhueter joined an exclusive club on Jan. 18 when he became the ninth men’s basketball player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone.

He was also the second person in his own family to reach the milestone, joining older brother Greg Holzhueter, who graduated from MLC in 2011.

Tonight, the two go head-to-head as Greg, who is an assistant coach at Bethany Lutheran College, will coach against Galen and the Knights at 7:30 p.m. at MLC in an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball contest.

The two brothers share more than membership in the 1,000-point club at MLC. Greg was a three-sport athlete all four years at MLC and Galen has also played all three sports at the college level.

Both brothers speak fondly of the 2010-11 school year, which saw both play key roles in all three sports.

Greg quarterbacked the football team to a 5-4 record in 2010, with Galen leading all MLC receivers in catches (27), yards (468), and touchdowns (four).

That success translated over to the basketball court, where the two brothers helped the Knights recover from a slow start in non-conference play to finish 7-7 in UMAC play, earning a berth in the UMAC Postseason Tournament. Greg helped Galen become acclimated on the court throughout the season, as the younger Holzhueter averaged 11.5 points per game and was named Freshman of the Year by the UMAC coaches.

“Playing with Greg my freshman year was awesome,” Galen Holzhueter said. “He helped me adjust to the style of college basketball and ‘coached’ me, telling me what I needed to improve on or change. Many brothers might end up getting angry with each other playing together, but Greg and I were always able to play together without anger or competition between us.”

Galen also had a front row seat as his brother set numerous records that season. Greg finished as the school’s all-time leader in assists (370), steals (170), and free throws (319), and also scored his 1,000th career point his senior season.

The two finished that season playing baseball for the Knights. Greg was named first team All-UMAC as the shortstop, while Galen started 27 of 30 games at catcher or first base.

Galen has put his own stamp on the record books in the time since. He led the UMAC in scoring during the 2011-12 basketball season with an average of 18.6 points per game. After sitting out the football season as a sophomore, he returned his junior year as a defensive back to receive First Team All-UMAC honors in 2012.

Greg says there’s very little that Galen has accomplished that has surprised him, but he admits to being surprised and impressed by his brother’s comeback to the gridiron.

“Galen’s success in football this season was a surprise to me from the standpoint that he had taken a year off from football altogether and hadn’t played defense for two years,” Greg Holzhueter said. “It was pretty fun to see him out there again and playing at such a high level.”

Over the last two basketball seasons, the relationship between the two brothers has seen a new twist, with Greg serving as an assistant coach for the Bethany Lutheran men’s basketball team and coaching against Galen and the Knights. While that hasn’t presented conflict between the two, it has made things different heading into those games.

“I always want the best for Galen, and for him to succeed in everything he does, and that presents a conflict of interest when my team is competing against his. It’s a lose-lose situation,” Greg Holzhueter said. “Needless to say, I’m happy when the game is finally over.”

That doesn’t mean the two brothers don’t let their competitiveness show from time to time.

“We do talk basketball often and jokingly talk trash before games. I’ll be honest: I enjoy beating him,” Galen Holzhueter said. “But this doesn’t affect our relationship in a negative way at all. It’s all in good fun.”

Greg’s teams have gotten the best of Galen and the Knights, as BLC has won all three games in the series, including an 85-49 win over the Knights on Jan. 8. The two teams play for the second time this season tonight at MLC.

Those rivalry games may not be the only competition left between the brothers, as Galen has a chance to put his own stamp on the basketball record books at MLC, just as his brother did. Greg doesn’t seem concerned with that, considering he has some experience in that area already.

“Galen followed me at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School in the same way he followed me at MLC,” Greg Holzhueter said. “He started all four years in all three sports there and far surpassed my athletic accomplishments at MVL, so I’ve already had plenty of practice with him surpassing me on my record lists.”

He then joked, “At least I can be pretty confident that he won’t be passing my career assists record at MLC.”

While it remains to be seen how the two will compare in the record books, they have seen their relationship take many forms during their athletic careers. From Galen’s perspective, there’s only one thing left.

“We’ve played together, played against each other, and he has coached against me,” Galen said. “The only thing left is for him to be my coach.”

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