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Baillargeon knows the historical significance

Drew Baillargeon is tuned in to history.

Whether it's his family tradition or whether it's his deep curiosity of the American Civil War, the 2006 Somerset High School valedictorian knows his subject.

That has led to his future plans of attending the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, with plans of becoming a history teacher.

Being valedictorian is becoming a family tradition. Drew is the second of his siblings to earn this honor.

His sister, Bethany, was also an SHS valedictorian. He said ever since she earned the valedictorian honor, it has been his goal to follow in her footsteps.

Looking at things with a long-range focus is something people have grown to expect from Baillargeon.

He said he has wanted to be a history teacher since he was in fifth grade and he has continued with the plan steadily ever since then.

Baillargeon is on the quiet side, with an analytical mind, but he's been just as successful on the athletic field as he has been in the classroom. Last fall he was a two-way starter on the Somerset football team that reached the WIAA state championship game. Baillargeon started at halfback on offense and cornerback for the Spartans.

He was just as successful as a wrestler. As a senior he was the Middle Border Conference champion at 135 pounds and as a junior he was a qualifier for the WIAA State Wrestling Championships.

While quiet on the outside, Baillargeon is deeply competitive. When asked if there is one word that best describes him, he said "committed" suits him best.

"Once I start something, I carry through on it. I've been in wrestling for 12 years and football for six years. I don't consider myself a gifted athlete. I'm there to work hard and get the most I can from my ability," he said.

The opportunity to compete at the state level in two sports gives Baillargeon a unique perspective, because the two sports are viewed so differently.

"In football, everybody is behind you. Every person in school, in town, in the conference wants the team to do well. There's the big sendoff. There are more coaches focused on everything. In wrestling it's you that has to be focused. In wrestling it's the same people who are there who have been behind you all year," he said.

Baillargeon is planning on continuing his wrestling career in college. Bethany has started running marathons and Drew said that is something he would like to try in the future.

Sports are just part of Baillargeon's school activities. He's qualified for state in forensics each of the past three years. After falling short of his goal of a gold medal his first two years at state, he changed his topic to Oratory, considered one of the most difficult forensics areas. Working daily to improve his presentation, this year he was able to earn the state gold medal for which he was striving.

Baillargeon is also the vice president of the SHS National Honor Society, he is active in the student council and he is a member of STAND.

If you can't find Baillargeon at a sports event or studying, you will likely find him researching history. He enjoys studying all of American history, particularly the Civil War.

"I'm a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, he's my favorite historical figure. He came from nothing basically. He kept trying after he failed and came to be regarded as one of the greatest presidents," Baillargeon said.

His interest in political history has him also considering entering politics someday. He may minor or take a second major in political science.

"I'd like to be involved in politics at the local or state level," he said. "I've always wanted to do something in the government, to help make things better."

Baillargeon is the son of Lee and Debbie Baillargeon. He has two siblings, Bethany and Bruce.

Baillargeon listed SHS wrestling coach and history teacher Dennis Potter as one of his most influential teachers. Potter holds Baillargeon in a similarly high regard.

"Drew is an extremely bright person. He is also one of the most goal-oriented people I've ever met. He is one of those rare student athletes that combines talent and hard work. I really think he overachieved in wrestling because of how hard he worked and how determined he was," Potter said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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