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Inhuman Awards announced for spring sports season

New Richmond sophomore Amelia Feuerer (25) leaps to block a ball that had been kicked downfield by an opponent during a Tiger game in April.1 / 4
Sophomore Jade Williams was thrust into a difficult position of playing shortstop this season with no previous experience. Her progress for the Tiger softball team was noticeable by the week.2 / 4
Junior Jake Jirik (3) helped to make the New Richmond infield defense extremely solid this season.3 / 4
St. Croix Central senior Matt Brandeen was one of the top pitchers in the Middle Border Conference the past two seasons.4 / 4

The Inhuman Awards have been presented by the sports department of The News for more than 20 years to recognize noteworthy performances from each season.

There were plenty of performances worthy of honors this spring. With several local teams winning Middle Border Conference championships and others showing marked improvement, there were numerous options for most of these honors. So here are the Inhuman Awards for the 2017 spring season.

Baseball

Most Valuable Offense:

Blake Kretovics, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: Jack Bau, New Richmond; Jake Weiss, New Richmond; Mikah Kier, New Richmond.

New Richmond had incredible depth in its batting order. Kretovics was the power provider, with 10 extra base hits this season, including six triples. He also led the Tigers with 25 runs scored and a .535 on-base percentage. Opponents feared him, resulting in Kretovics taking a teamhigh 18 walks.

Most Valuable Pitching:

Grant Riemenschneider, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: Matt Brandeen, St. Croix Central; AJ Beasley, Somerset; Eric Hedlund, New Richmond; Brett Vetterkind, Somerset.

The evolution of Riemenschneider’s pitching may be the biggest single factor that made the Tigers the Middle Border Conference champions for 2017. He went 5-1 and his only loss of the season came in the WIAA playoffs against Marshfield. He was the type of pitcher every coach hopes for: always around the plate, with a good mix of pitches, and with the ability to shake off one rough inning.

Most Improved: Noah Towberman, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: John Earley, New Richmond; Derek Myer, St. Croix Central; Jake Jirik, New Richmond; Will Piletich, Somerset.

Towberman forced his way into the Tiger lineup. Between leading the team with a .373 batting average and being a smart catcher, he became someone the Tigers needed in the lineup every game. With Towberman and Kier being juniors, the Tigers return two of the best catchers in the MBC next season.

Softball

Most Valuable Offense: Georgia Hammer, Somerset.

Honorable Mention: Lorin Bauer, New Richmond; Haley Bassett, Somerset; Abbie Rivard, Somerset; Olivia Wasley, St. Croix Central.

Hammer lived up to her name with the way she hit the ball this season. A .487 batting average put her among the best hitters in the MBC this season and she was a much surer defender at third base.

Most Valuable Pitching: Erin Peterson, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Kayli Thanig, Somerset.

Peterson has been a constant for the Tigers for most of her high school career. The Tigers knew that they’d be in every game because of Peterson’s pitching and her competitiveness.

Most Improved: Kayli Thanig, Somerset.

Honorable Mention: Loni Bauer, New Richmond; Emily Gatzke, St. Croix Central; Kourtney LaBeause, St. Croix Central; Jade Williams, New Richmond.

Somerset’s softball team was the most competitive it has been in a number of years this season. A big part of that was Thanig’s progress. She could match evenly with just about any pitcher the Spartans faced this season.

Girls Soccer

Most Valuable Offense:

Lexi Brown, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Anna Rybacki, Somerset; Reese Jacobson, New Richmond, Amelia Feuerer, New Richmond; Anya Swanson, Somerset.

Brown is the consummate team player. Her ambitions have nothing to do with her own statistics, only wins and making her teammates better.

Most Valuable Defense:

Sophie Thommes, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Taylor Sporleder, Somerset; Audrey Feuerer, New Richmond; Kerrigan Storie, New Richmond; Hannah Waskosky, Somerset.

Thommes is tough and fearless. But it’s a smart fearless. Being a good stopper requires split-second decisions and making the right decisions.

Most Improved: Teresa Tenner, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: Hannah Jensen, New Richmond; Bryanna Sengbusch, Somerset; Kristen Vensland, Somerset; Brycen Chladek, Somerset.

Tenner earned this honor by stepping in and becoming one of the key players in the middle of the field for the Tigers. She played with poise in the pressure of WIAA sectional tournaments. Any of a half-dozen younger Tigers would have been good choices, because that’s how far the young talent on the team progressed this season. Somerset also saw major progress from its younger players this season.

Boys Track

Most Valuable Track:

Dylan Wachter, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Brandon Powers, New Richmond; Frank Holter, St. Croix Central.

Wachter is a competitor, pure and simple. The Tiger coaches hope to improve his practice habits, but once the gun sounds, there’s no arguing with Wachter’s results. In cross country, and now track, Wachter has placed himself among the best mid-distance runners on this side of the state. And he’s versatile, with the ability to run at a competitive level in any race from the 200 to the 3,200 meters.

Most Valuable Field:

Trevor Nelson, St. Croix Central.

Honorable Mention:

Nathan Strader, St. Croix Central; Brandon Powers, New Richmond; Joe Hueg, St. Croix Central; Zac Bringgold, St. Croix Central.

Nelson is one of those rare athletes whose skills work in seemingly every sport. All-state and state champion in football, academic all-state in basketball and a state competitor in track. There are very few athletes around the state who can put together that impressive a resume.

Most Improved: Dylan Minke, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Cole Birch, New Richmond; Brandon Haag, New Richmond; Joe Hueg, St. Croix Central; Cooper Strand, New Richmond; John Borgstrom, New Richmond; Chase Chiarle, New Richmond.

Minke blossomed as a track athlete this spring. In his sprinting and his field events, he will be one of the top returnees in the MBC next spring.

Girls Track

Most Valuable Track: Katheryn Holter, St. Croix Central.

Honorable Mention: Olivia Moll, St. Croix Central; Mallorie Brinkman, New Richmond; Katie Koerper, St. Croix Central.

Holter stands at the top of a strong group of runners in this class. Holter is tough and incredibly focused. If you want to see how work in the weight room can benefit a track athlete, she’s a textbook example. She attacks her workouts and it has definitely paid dividends.

Most Valuable Field:

Eve Goldstein, Somerset.

Honorable Mention: Aly Meath, Somerset; Mia Krogseng, St. Croix Central; Goldstein was one of the most impactful freshman in the girls Division 2 WIAA state meet, with her third and fourth place performances. There are few athletes with the drive that Goldstein possesses. She’s a bundle of energy, but she harnesses that energy when she competes.

Most Improved: Mallorie Brinkman, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Keely Pitcher, Somerset; Ashton Unruh, New Richmond; Marie Hamlin, St. Croix Central;

There were glimpses of talent from Brinkman in her freshman year, but nothing of substance. She devoted her off-season to hard work and turned herself into an MBC champion and a Division 1 state qualifier.

New Richmond Boys Tennis

Most Valuable: Russ Hop. Honorable Mention: Stuart Pearson, Michael Skoyen.

Hop made the step up to one singles this season and played evenly with many of the best players in the western half of the state. As with the other Tiger seniors, Hop played a smart, disciplined style that made opponents work for every point.

Most Improved: Trent Ziebol.

Honorable Mention: Joe Smallidge, Michael Skoyen, Jimmy Miller, Cole Kramer.

Ziebol is the heir apparent to one of the top spots in the Tiger lineup next season. He’s got all the tools to handle that move, as he showed this season. He’s a pure power player now, and as he adds finesse, he’ll get even better.

Boys Golf

Most Valuable: Thomas McKinney, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Austin Perry, Alex Lahde and Wil Gauper of Somerset; Drew Malecek, St. Croix Central.

The MBC was packed with top quality seniors this season and these five were a big part of that talent. McKinney has been one of the top players in the MBC the past two years, with consistency being one of the best assets in his game.

Most Improved: Blake Peterson, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention:

Jared Tilton, St. Croix Central.

An injury forced Peterson to give up baseball and take up golf. That was to the good fortune of the golf team. Peterson improved steadily and showed the skills to be among the MBC’s top players the next two seasons.

Coaching

Coaching Staff of the season: New Richmond girls soccer.

Honorable Mention: New Richmond baseball, St. Croix Central track, New Richmond track, Somerset girls soccer, Somerset boys golf.

Tracey Boyle and her staff turned the New Richmond girls soccer program into one of the most respected teams in western Wisconsin. The coaches did an excellent job of recognizing each player’s talents and putting them in a position where they could be most successful.

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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