Inhuman Awards honor athletic excellence
In sports, it can be measured a multitude of ways. Winning is at the heart of sports success, but it is by no means the only measure of success in sports, especially at the high school and youth levels.
For more than 20 years, The News has been presenting The Inhuman Awards to recognize outstanding athletic achievements from the athletes at New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central high schools.
The winter season was packed with students who put in exceptional efforts, often leading to recognition at the conference and state level. We hope these awards further illuminate some of the efforts that stood out over the winter.
Here are the Inhuman Awards for the winter 2017-18 season.
Most Valuable: (tie) Peyton Nogal, St. Croix Central and Joey Kidder, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Collin Nelson, St. Croix Central; Blake Getschel, New Richmond; Ty Madden, Somerset; Will Soderberg, St. Croix Central.
Nogal and Kidder did so many things for their respective teams it was impossible to vote for one over the other. Nogal was the hub of the Panther offense. He's just as comfortable scoring from the paint as he is from the perimeter. Whenever he had the ball, the whole opposing defense kept their eyes on him. Kidder became one of the most well-rounded players in the MBC as a sophomore. Just from his defense, rebounds and assists he was a strong player, and his scoring made him one of the most productive players in the conference.
Most Improved: Ty Madden, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Joey Kidder, New Richmond; Austin Kopacz, St. Croix Central.
Madden carried much of the responsibility for the Spartans' offense on his shoulders. He became a gutsy scorer who wasn't afraid to break down a defender to create an open look. Madden is also on his way to becoming a very solid defensive player.
Most Valuable: Mia Krogseng, St. Croix Central.
Honorable Mention: Claire Frankiewicz, St. Croix Central; Anna Rybacki, Somerset.
Krogseng is the Most Valuable Player of the Middle Border Conference and it was a well justified award. Krogseng is talented and well-rounded. She is able to score from the paint or the perimeter. She is top quality ball handler, rebounder and defender.
Most Improved: Tori Gareis, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Claire Frankiewicz, St. Croix Central; Katherine Cottrell, St. Croix Central; Abby Widiker, St. Croix Central; Audrey Feuerer, New Richmond.
With so little experience returning this season, the Somerset girls needed players to step up in every aspect of their game. Nobody did that more than Gareis. She became one of the best perimeter shooters in the MBC. Her biggest change came on defense, where she dedicated herself to being a much more tenacious defender.
Unsung Hero: McKenna Johnson, St. Croix Central.
She's known most as an "intangibles" player, doing important things that don't show up in statistics. Her scrappy defense and the feisty edge she brings to the team was something that helped the Panthers reach the next level of success.
Most Valuable Offense: Nick Johnson, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Eric Langer, New Richmond; Jack Peterson, Somerset.
Johnson was a marked man this season. Opponents knew the Tigers needed him to carry a big part of the offensive burden. Johnson plays ruggedly and it takes a great deal of effort for teams to defend him. That helped him create better chances for his linemates.
Most Valuable Defense: Jake Erickson, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Chris Lubow, New Richmond; Noah Towberman, New Richmond; Jackson Haukom, Somerset.
This was a tough, tough call between Erickson and Lubow, because they both meant so much to the Tigers in their own way. Erickson may be the most underrated player among the Tigers' outstanding senior class. He earned 35 wins in goal over the past two seasons. He had a 1.81 goals against average this season. Erickson became a poised, self-assured goalie, which is what every coach hopes to have. Lubow battled through injuries, but remained one of the best two-way defensemen in the state.
Most Improved: Eric Langer, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Gabe Bottolfson, New Richmond; Jens Christensen, New Richmond; Hayden Bradbury, New Richmond; Francisco Gomez, Somerset.
The Tigers had one glaring need heading into the season: goal scoring. Langer stepped from the opening game and became a scorer. He worked hard between the circles to create space for himself, where he could accept passes, and also to be in good position for rebounds. Langer finished in the top 10 in the state in goal scoring this season.
Western Wisconsin Stars Girls Hockey
Most Valuable Offense: Jade Williams
Honorable Mention: Bailey Williams, Grace Klein.
Jade Williams is a special offensive talent. She has the speed, strength and skating acumen to become one of the leading scorer threats in the state. She just missed making the top 10 girls goal scorers in the state with her 24 goals.
Most Valuable Defense: Catherine Magler
Honorable Mention: Bailey Williams
Magler improved in each of her four seasons in the Stars' net. She got stronger mentally, becoming a pillar of reliability. With her in goal, the Stars knew they were going to be competitive in every game.
Most Improved: Ellie Brice
Honorable Mention: Ally Dahlberg.
Brice worked extremely hard during the season. She became much more of a presence on the ice, becoming more willing to get into physical battles for control of the puck and winning more of those battles.
Most Valuable: Garret Hecht and Preston Anez, Somerset.
Honorable Mention: Nathan Fehlen New Richmond; Ryan Larson, St. Croix Central; Brandon Dennis, New Richmond.
Hecht and Anez worked for four years to raise Somerset's wrestling program to places it hasn't been in 25 years. Hecht and Anez deserve to share this honor because they were both instrumental in getting the Spartan program turned in the right direction.
Most Improved: Ryan Muller, New Richmond.
Honorable Mention: Nick Bushinger, Somerset.
Muller went from a sub .500 JV wrestler a year ago to a sectional qualifier this season. Especially in the upper weights, that major a jump is rare. Muller has the strength and strong base skills to continue improving upon what he did this winter.
Coaching Staff of the season: St. Croix Central girls basketball (Luke Fritsche).
Honorable Mention: Somerset wrestling (Ali Peterson); New Richmond boys hockey (Adam Swanda); Somerset girls basketball (Cory Lindenberg).
Fritsche and his staff have built a highly respected program that culminated in the Panthers' first Middle Border Conference championship. While the coaching staff is stepping down, the coaches have instilled strong fundamentals throughout the program that will keep the Panthers in a position to be a threat in the MBC for the next several seasons.