Christian Hallingstad was not a punting prodigy when he joined the UW-La Crosse football team in 2009.
By his own admission, the Rice Lake High School graduate, hardly knew what he was doing.
But as Hallingstad’s college career ended Saturday afternoon with the Eagles’ 24-0 loss to UW-Whitewater at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex, he could call himself the best at his position in NCAA Division III.
Hallingstad’s talent has not gone unnoticed. After averaging 44.4 yards per punt, with 23 of 50-plus yards and 26 placed inside the
20-yard line, he has been invited to the D3 Senior Classic on Dec. 7 in Salem, Va., and has the opportunity to pursue a pro career.
“I’m the last guy I thought would be able to do this,” Hallingstad said. “I wasn’t recruited to play; I was a walk-on, and I wasn’t even good my first two years. I’ve never been in a situation like this all-star game. I’ve got nothing to lose, and I’m going to go out there and have fun.”
Hallingstad punted eight times for 334 yards, a 41.8 average, and placed four inside the 20 Saturday against the Warhawks.
In the first quarter, he stood at the Whitewater 46 and hit a high, pinwheeling punt that stopped dead at the 1.
Hallingstad played a key role in La Crosse’s upset of No. 6 North Central (Ill.) in the season opener.
With 36 seconds left and the Eagles holding a four-point lead, he punted from his own 47 and drilled a 51-yarder out of bounds at the 2. North Central turned the ball over two plays later.
“He’s a hammer,” Eagles coach Joel Dettwiler said. “I think he’s capable of playing at the next level, it might be a long road, but there aren’t many that are much better than him.”
Hallingstad averaged 36.3 yards per punt as a freshman and 35.2 as a sophomore. He got serious after that, studying technique, lifting weights and practicing a lot.
That resulted in a 42.6 average as a junior and 20 punts downed inside the 20. Hallingstad kept at it this past offseason, attending a special teams camp and punting four days a week with his girlfriend, Sierra, helping out.
“She was great,” Hallingstad said. “I think she was more excited about it than I was.”
Hallingstad said he will go to the D3 Senior Classic and see what happens.
“I have no idea about scouts or anything like that,” he said. “They have workouts the Thursday before the game, and maybe I’ll get some looks.”