Inhuman Awards announced for spring sports seasonNobody can question the quality of sports in this area after the success earned this spring.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Nobody can question the quality of sports in this area after the success earned this spring.
WIAA state championship trophies were hoisted by the Prescott baseball team and the Baldwin-Woodville softball team. Ellsworth brings home a silver ball for its second place finish at the baseball state tournament. Osceola’s Charlie Danielson was again a WIAA state individual golf champion. There were a number of track athletes who made their mark this season.
The New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central athletic programs all had stellar spring seasons. We present the Inhuman Awards for the spring season to recognize some of the top individual efforts.
Most Valuable Player: Zack Waalen, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Evan Gaddis, Somerset; Dominick Lohmeier, Somerset; Max Skatrud, New Richmond; Mike Nelson, St. Croix Central; Justin Johnson, New Richmond.
Without Waalen, Somerset would not have been playing in the WIAA sectional tournament. He’s small in size but big in heart. He throws much harder than hitters expect and he’s not afraid to challenge any batter.
Most Improved: Justin Johnson, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Andy Peters, Somerset; Alex Adkins, St. Croix Central; Aaron Kizer, New Richmond; Nate Olin, Somerset; Ethan Lindahl, St. Croix Central.
Many players had the chance to emerge as the top pitcher for the Tigers this season. Johnson was the player who put in the off-season work to make it happen. His work ethic and his poise on the mound helped him rise quickly to the top of the Tiger pitching staff.
Best Defense: Jordan Langness, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Dalton Sabby, New Richmond; Austin Bushinger, Somerset.
Langness used the same skills that made him a top hockey goalie to become a defensive standout at second base. Quick hands and quick reflexes helped him make the plays for the Spartans.
Most Valuable Track Athlete: Robbie Lang and Luke Praschak, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Steve Brunshidle, St. Croix Central; Robbie Flom, Somerset; Eli Kelley, New Richmond; Korey Jacobson, St. Croix Central.
Lang and Praschak were the leaders in Somerset’s rise from a track afterthought to a conference champion. Opposing coaches constructed their lineups knowing they’d have trouble winning events where Lang and Praschak were competing. As seniors next year, they have already established themselves as team leaders.
Most Valuable Field Athlete: Lauden Wood, St. Croix Central.
Wood was the most consistent performer in the area in the shot put and discus throw, getting to the state meet in the shot event. He was also a willing worker who would step into any event where the coaches needed him.
Most Improved: Mitch McConaughey, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Shane Miller, Somerset; Gabe Harvieux, New Richmond; Jason Matteson, St. Croix Central; Aaron Joppru, Somerset.
McConaughey has always had terrific speed and his switch to the track team allowed him to harness it to its full potential. With several key runners graduating, his role on the team should grow even more next year.
Most Valuable Track Athlete: Kat Keller, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Morgan Kelly, New Richmond; Natalie Broome, Somerset; Anna McShane, New Richmond.
It could certainly be argued that Keller has been the most successful New Richmond girls track athlete ever. While she doesn’t have a state championship to her credit, she has been among the top sprinters in the state for three straight years. With her piston-like stride and incredible intensity, Keller should be able to continue her success with the University of Minnesota Gophers.
Most Valuable Field Athlete: Sarah Krig, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Kayla Pabst, St. Croix Central.
Krig is a rare talent. Qualifying for state in three field events is a rarity. Krig is tall, strong, limber and confident. She fully expects to do better next season and there’s no reason to doubt her intentions.
Most Improved: Anna McShane, New Richmond and Natalie Broome, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Susan Schmitt, Somerset; Emily Bischof, New Richmond.
McShane and Broome both went somewhat unnoticed this season and that’s a shame. They both developed into impactful state-level athletes. Broome ran in the shadow of Keller and Osceola’s Aimee Rice-Strand, but she proved at state that she’s an elite sprinter. McShane leads the Tiger hurdlers and jumpers, making both into strengths for the team.
Most Valuable: Ashley Langer, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Kalli Armagost, St. Croix Central; Bethany Starry, Somerset; Ebony Campbell, New Richmond.
Langer’s progress as the Tiger pitcher made it possible for the team to make a dramatic step up in the MBC standings. She became much more accurate in hitting her pitch targets and pitched with a vastly higher level of confidence.
Best Defense: Kalli Armagost, St. Croix Central.
Honorable Mention: Ebony Campbell, New Richmond; Sami Martell, Somerset.
Armagost continues the string of excellent defensive catchers the Panthers have maintained over the past decade. Armagost has a cannon for an arm, great footwork and she’s a strong presence behind the plate.
Most Improved: Ellie Emerson, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Shelby Thomley, St. Croix Central; Megan Starry, Somerset.
Emerson emerged as an offensive force as the Tigers’ leadoff hitter. She was an aggressive baserunner who got on base consistently. She was part of an excellent defensive outfield for the Tigers.
Most Valuable Offense: Kaycie Anderson, New Richmond.
Anderson has some of the best offensive skills in the MBC. She’s a skilled ball-handler, passer and scorer. The younger Tigers could model their game after her, especially her aggressiveness while possessing the ball.
Most Valuable Defense: Abby Skoyen, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Tiffany Olek, New Richmond.
Skoyen should have been a first team All-MBC selection this year. The Tigers were one of the best defensive teams in the conference and she was the heart of the defense.
Most Improved: Catalina Prada-Hernandez, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Sydney Simpson, New Richmond; Lauren Sandy, Somerset.
Prada-Hernandez saved the Tigers this season. The team was in desperate need of a goalkeeper and the foreign exchange student volunteered to take on the responsibility. One of the biggest needs for the Tigers for next season is finding someone who can ably replace her.
New Richmond Boys Tennis
Most Valuable: Pat Holland and Charlie Kleiner.
This team needed someone to step forward and take on the one doubles role. Holland and Kleiner took on the task, though it was slightly above their skill level. While not having the on-court success they would have liked, they remained reliable leaders for the team.
Most Improved: Jack Hop and Dustin Reed. Hop and Reed took over the bottom two slots in the varsity singles lineup and became top players in their flights. Hop has an excellent assortment of shots and admirable poise for a freshman. Reed was in his first year of tennis. He quickly developed skills and never stopped progressing during the season.
Most Valuable: Jake Green, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Montgomery, New Richmond.
Green isn’t bold or overbearing. He plays for the love of the game and he plays it well. He has put in endless work to make his game better and he has the poise needed to handle any pressure situation.
Most Improved: Ben Norman, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Zach Bahr, Somerset.
Norman was the constant in the Tiger lineup this season. While other players had fluctuations in their scores, Norman was consistently scoring in the low 40s. That steady play made him a highly valued member of the Tiger lineup.
Coaching Staff of the Season: Somerset boys track (Mike Holmquist)
Honorable Mention: New Richmond girls track (Judy Weiss), St. Croix Central boys track (Ben Lamb and Amanda Webb), Somerset baseball (Brandon Kadlec), New Richmond softball (Becky Ahlbrecht).
Holmquist accomplished a complete transformation of the Somerset boys track program. His boundless enthusiasm and honesty sparked the interest of the male athletes and they joined the program in droves. And they worked their tails off to get better.