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Inhuman Awards recognize top winter sports performances

New Richmond’s Jessica Hagman (15) was the only freshman to be named to the All-MIddle Border Conference girls basketball team this winter.1 / 3
Trevor Nelson (13) was the leader for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team, through his scoring, rebound, defense and the intensity he brought to each game.2 / 3
Avery Gunther (44) helped make the Somerset girls basketball team a more well rounded play with her selfless ability to complement her teammates.3 / 3

The winter season of 2016-17 is now complete. And with its completion, the announcement of the Inhuman Awards, recognizing some of the top performances from the New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central teams, has now been completed.

These awards are done to recognize success at a local level. Not every athlete gets all-state or all-conference recognition, but there are efforts that deserve to be noticed. So we present to you, the 2016-17 winter Inhuman Awards.

Boys Basketball

Most Valuable: Trevor Nelson, St. Croix Central.

Honorable Mention: Noah Dendinger, Somerset; Adam Schoepke, New Richmond.

Nelson plays to win. It showed in football and again in basketball. He’s got athletic ability, but it is his drive and determination that sets him apart. He plays just as hard on defense as he does on offense.

Most Improved: Peyton Nogal, St. Croix Central.

Honorable Mention: Blake Getschel, New Richmond; Will Piletich, Somerset; Bennett Baillargeon, Somerset.

Nogal has special talent, he just needed time to harness it. His passion for the game is unmistakeable and now it is showing at all times on the court.

Unsung Hero: Owen Schwechler, St. Croix Central.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Jansen, New Richmond.

You’ll occasionally hear coaches talk about “glue” players. That fits Schwechler perfectly. He was the glue that held the Panthers together. He was able to hold his composure when defenses were throwing everything they had at the Panthers.

Girls Basketball

Most Valuable: Tori Martell, Somerset.

Honorable Mention: Mia Krogseng, St. Croix Central; Haley Bassett, Somerset; Jessica Hagman, New Richmond; Kaitlyn Struemke, Somerset; Abbie Rivard Somerset.

There aren’t enough superlatives for Martell’s career. She ranks among the best players the Middle Border Conference has ever seen. And she got markedly better every season. Imagine, she made 46 percent of her three-point shots this season. And many of those were taken with defenses doing everything in their power to stop her. She can score from anywhere on the court, adding a nice mid-range shot to her arsenal this season.

Most Improved: Mikenna LaVenture, St. Croix Central.

Honorable Mention: Claire Frankiewicz, St. Croix Central; Avery Gunther, Somerset; Anna Rybacki, Somerset; Lorin Bauer, New Richmond.

LaVenture became one of the best pure point guards in the MBC this season. She became a polished ball handler and her defense was a driving force in the Panthers’ success. She didn’t allow opposing point guards to get comfortable, which threw off the opposition’s timing.

Unsung Hero: Avery Gunther, Somerset.

Honorable Mention: Mallory Kelly, New Richmond; Callie Willie, Somerset.

Gunther really deserved All-MBC recognition this season. Her primary role wasn’t as a starter, so she didn’t always get noticed. But girls she defended noticed her. To be a highly successful team, you need tough players who do the gritty work like set solid picks and shut down opponents. That’s just what she did.

Boys Hockey

Most Valuable Offense: Stuart Pearson, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: Alex Lahde, Somerset; Nick Johnson, New Richmond.

Pearson isn’t the biggest or strongest or fastest player on the ice, but he’s always one of the smartest. He finds open areas of the ice and excels at making himself an open target for passes. Scoring 53 goals in his career shows what a player can achieve with dedication and being a student of the game.

Most Valuable Defense: Chris Lubow, New Richmond

Honorable Mention: Adam Larson, Somerset; Austin Larson, Somerset; Jake Erickson, New Richmond.

Lubow was picked from a talented group of defensive players. Lubow has the jets to be an offensive defenseman. His play in the defensive zone became more refined this season. He has become the well-rounded defenseman coaches look for to anchor their defensive unit.

Most Improved: Jack Peterson, Somerset.

Honorable Mention: Cole Thomas, New Richmond; Jake Erickson, New Richmond; Ben Karno, New Richmond; Hunter Hartwick, Somerset.

Peterson rose to the top of a strong list of candidates for this award. Peterson rapidly developed into one of the better all-around forwards in the MBC this season. He’s got a scorer’s knack, but he plays just as hard in the defensive end of the rink.

Girls Hockey

Most Valuable: Cassie Gravelle and Brie Larkowski.

Honorable Mention: Jade Williams, Catherine Magler.

Gravelle and Larkowski deserve to share this honor, because of how much they’ve done for the team this season and throughout their careers. They have grown in each year of their careers and they deserved to finish on a winning team.

Most Improved: Catherine Magler.

Honorable Mention: Jade Williams, Sydney Hahn.

Magler’s growth this season was a key reason in the Stars evolving into a winning team. Magler played with far more confidence and consistency this season. Her progress gave her teammates the confidence to know they’d be a strong defensive team every game.

Wrestling

Most Valuable: Bryce Younger, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Larson, St. Croix Central; Preston Anez, Somerset; Steven Moncada, Somerset.

Younger is one of the most successful of the Tigers of this century. He’s one of the most complete wrestlers in the area. He’s incredibly strong. His recognition is amazing. He sees what opponents are trying to do and always seems to find a way to counter it successfully.

Most Improved: Nathan Fehlen, New Richmond.

Honorable Mention: Hunter Schmidt, St. Croix Central; Dayton Dodge, New Richmond; Jared Grahovac, Somerset.

Fehlen showed promise as a sophomore, making a strong push late in the season to qualify for sectionals. In this, his junior season, he fulfilled that promise. Qualifying for state in Division 1 is no small task. And he improved by 16 wins over last season. He’s motivated. Don’t be surprised if there’s more improvement next season.

Coaching

Top Staff: Somerset girls basketball.

Honorable Mention: St. Croix Central girls basketball; St. Croix Central boys basketball; New Richmond boys hockey.

Somerset girls basketball coach Cory Lindenberg and his staff have an incredible rapport with their players. The girls feel like they are equals with the coaches and that their voices are heard. Lindenberg found systems that best suited the Spartans’ talents, taught them, then got out of the way. Trusting his athletes for their knowledge and recognition abilities may be one of Lindenberg’s coaching moves.

Most Improved: Somerset wrestling.

Honorable Mention: Western Wisconsin Stars hockey.

Ali Peterson and his Somerset wrestling staff spent last season getting the Spartans to believe they could improve. This year, that thought provoking style of coaching paid dividends. The Spartans went from the cellar in the MBC to a 4-3 finish, tying for third place.

Bob Huerta and his staff deserve credit too for turning the Stars into a winning team. The aggressive approach instilled by the coaches turned the Stars into a tougher team.

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.

(715) 426-1051
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