Passing fancy: Kolste rewriting Whitworth record book

Ian Kolste (Whitworth University Athletics)

The only record Ian Kolste is concerned about this football season is his team’s win-loss record.

When Whitworth University (Spokane) takes the field Friday, Aug. 11, to begin preparations for this fall’s season, Kolste will be entering his third year as the Pirates’ starting quarterback.

Last year, Kolste, a 2013 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, set eight school single-season records and helped Whitworth establish five new team records.

Those marks helped him lead the nation in Division III football in completions per game (35.1), passing yards (3,790) and passing yards per game (379).

They also helped him earn the Northwest Conference’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year Award.

In addition, he set the Whitworth career record in completions with 710.

Kolste, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound red-shirt senior, could add a bushel of other career records with another strong season this fall.

Team first

Individual records, however, are secondary to team accomplishments, according to Kolste.

“I am proud of all the records,” he said. “But they are more of what we were able to do as a team; they were a byproduct of what the team accomplished as a whole.

“We set records in total yards and points. I was just part of that.”

Whitworth offensive coordinator Alan Stanfield said, “Ian has made a huge impact on our program, helping us become one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the country. He leads by example, on and off the field, through his hard work, dedication to his craft and overall positive attitude.”

Kolste pointed out that the Pirates aren’t a pass-happy offense revolved around the quarterback, but an up-tempo spread offensive that is fairly balanced in its attack.

The Pirates attempted 503 passes and ran the ball 332 times in 2016.

Whitworth’s leading rusher, Duke DeGaetano, earned all-conference honors while running for 1,001 yards and a school record 21 touchdowns.

Kolste said he didn’t realize he was setting records as the season progressed.

“I didn’t have a clue about the first one until I read a story about our game the next day,” he said.

“When you are playing, it (setting records) isn’t something you think about,” he added.

Positive qualities

Whitworth head coach Rodney Sandberg said Kolste’s success is the result of more than talent.

“Ian Kolste is a winner,” Sandberg said. “He plays the most important position on the team and he plays it with unbelievable poise and confidence. Because of that, he inspires everyone around him and gives them confidence. With him behind center, we feel like we can win any game. We are very blessed to have him.”

Kolste’s best asset, according to Sandberg, is his humility.

“He is low key, relaxed and treats every teammate the same,” Sandberg said. “He is a student of the game and has made a commitment to put in the work to reach his full potential.”

The Pirates posted a 9-2 win-loss record in 2015 and 8-2 in 2016 and finished second to Linfield in the Northwest Conference both years with a 6-1 mark.

“The records I set are a representation of what we have been able to do as a team and the improvements we were able to make.”

Those improvements, he hopes, will continue this fall.

Lofty goals

“We are aiming high,” he said. “We are right on the cusp.”

Led by a close-knit group of nine seniors, the Pirates “are closing the gap.”

A conference title and playoff berth are in reach, Kolste said.

One personal aspect of the season Kolste is looking forward to is sharing the field with his brother Taylor, a sophomore receiver.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Taylor was on the freshman team when I was a senior in high school, so this is really the first time we are playing together. We were really close growing up; hopefully we will get a little more action together his year.”

Ian completed two passes to Taylor in 2016.

Sandberg said the brothers, sons of Shawn and Wendy Kolste, “push each other in the weight room and on the field.”

“It is fun to see them together and how strong their relationship is,” he added. “They are like best friends. They live together. They train together. They are football nerds and always watching film together.”

Also on the team is another Oak Harbor graduate, Tyler Adamson, a junior all-conference tackle.

Enjoying college

Kolste, a two-time all-Wesco quarterback in high school, visited Whitworth late in the recruiting season and “knew at once when I stepped on the campus it was the place to be.”

Kolste appeared in four games, starting two, as a freshman, then played in two as a sophomore before getting hurt and receiving a medical red shirt. The following season he took over as the full-time starter at QB.

“I’m really happy, extremely satisfied, with my decision to come here,” Kolste said. “I have made friends for life.”

Once Kolste, a health science major, wraps up his playing career, he would like to get into coaching.

He, however, has some more playing to do and some “unfinished business” to take care of.

“I have never beaten Linfield. I have never won a championship. I have never won a playoff game.”

He also never mentioned setting more individual records.

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Ian Kolste’s single-season records:

Offensive plays: 522

Total offense: 3,831 yards

Pass attempts: 488

Pass completions: 351

Completions per game: 35.1

Completion percentage: 71.9

Passing yards: 3,790

Touchdowns: 29 (tie)

Career record

Completions: 710

Single-season team records

Points: 459

Scoring average: 45.9

Passing yards: 3,994

Total yards: 5,262

Yards per game: 526.2

 

Oak Harbor graduate Ian Kolste throws a pass for Whitworth in a game last fall. (Whitworth University Athletics)