Area athletes making their mark in college
The strong high school athletics in our area results in a number of local athletes going on to compete at the collegiate level.
Here is an update on some of the local athletes who are competing in college sports.
At UW-Superior, Somerset native Jon Bucklew was the leading scorer for the Yellowjackets' men's soccer team this fall.
Bucklew, a senior, led Superior with 28 points this season. His points came on 11 goals and six assists. Bucklew recorded his first collegiate hat trick on Oct. 25 when he scored three times in a 6-0 win over Northland College.
Bucklew was an All-UMAC first team selection, the third straight season he's been named to the all-conference first team. He ends his UW-Superior tied for most goals all-time (37) and most points (93).
Praschak's first season with the Falcons was a smashing success. Praschak led the WIAC in tackles, tallying 91 on the season, was second in the league with 14.5 tackles for loss and finished fifth in sacks with 5.5. This success led to Praschak being named to the All-WIAC first team. Praschak had played for the Wisconsin Badgers a year ago before transferring to UW-River Falls.
Several other area players took the field for the Falcons this fall.
Austin Juhl was in the mix at receiver and kick returner for the Falcons. He finished the season with eight receptions, covering 76 yards. The redshirt freshman from New Richmond returned four kicks for 63 yards.
Freshman Brandon Powers became one of the Falcons' top defensive backs this season. He saw action in all 10 games, finishing with 38 tackles. He also notched his first career interception against UW-Whitewater. He broke up eight passes during the season.
There were also several area products on the Falcon coaching staff. Rocky Larson was the defensive coordinator, Tyler Ledbeter was the running backs coach and Robbie Flom was the assistant defensive backs coach. All three are Somerset High School graduates.
Kyle Larson, Trevor Nelson
St. Croix Central graduates Kyle Larson and Trevor Nelson showed promise for the UW-Eau Claire football team this fall, but both saw their season come to an early end because of major injuries. Larson, a Blugold sophomore, appeared ready for significant playing time when he was injured. Nelson, in his freshman season, was already making an impact. He was having a huge game against UW-Oshkosh on Nov. 4, with 10 tackles, when he suffered a knee injury, ending his season.
Heaven Hunt was one of the main kick and punt returners for the Blue Devils this fall. Hunt from Somerset, returned 14 punts and three kickoffs during the season. Hunt, from Somerset, is a sophomore wide receiver for the Blue Devils.
Logan Peterson of Somerset saw action at linebacker as a freshman for Stout. His best game came on Oct. 28 in a win against UW-Eau Claire. In that game he had three tackles, including two tackles for losses that covered 13 yards. He also had one quarterback sack in that game.
Austin Groleau of Somerset made a position change this season. He moved to tight end for his freshman season with the Blue Devils.
Elmore played his senior season with the East Carolina University Pirates after playing his first three seasons at the University of Minnesota Gophers. Elmore officially transferred into the ECU program as a graduate student in the spring, after completing his bachelor degree requirements at Minnesota during the summer. Elmore finished the season for the Pirates with 14 tackles.
Smith finished the season with 173 yards rushing for the UW-La Crosse football team. Smith led the Eagles in rushing touchdowns with five. Smith, a St. Croix Central grad, is a sophomore at La Crosse.
Kannel, a senior from New Richmond, started all six of the UW-La Crosse women's basketball games in November. The Eagles ended the month with a 4-2 record.
Wisemiller had a strong season in the fall portion of the UW-Stout men's golf schedule. The junior from New Richmond ranked third on the Blue Devils with an average score of 79.0.
Baker, a junior from New Richmond, played six rounds for the UW-Stout women's golf team this fall. Baker had rounds of 88, 98 and 87 in the WIAC championships. Stout finished second at the WIAC tournament.
Kukacka is a senior on the Bethel University women's volleyball team. Kukacka was named to the All-MIAC sportsmanship team. Kukacka is a 6-1 middle blocker at Bethel. Kukacka finished the season with 35 kills, which ranked seventh on the team, as did her 59 total points.
Wilson competed in five races as a sophomore for the UW-Eau Claire men's cross country team. The New Richmond native had his best finish of the season was a tenth place effort at the Eau Claire City Wells meet.
Keifer, a sophomore from New Richmond, is in the varsity lineup to start the season for the Luther College wrestling team. Keifer is slated to wrestle at 184 pounds.