Tags: Feature Sports Story
March 21, 2012 | 07:41 AMIt's time to break out the short-sleeved shirts and shorts and bask in some rays.
Area baseball, softball, track and soccer teams have already opened up practice, and track has even had some competition. The year is simply zipping by, with barely any down time between winter and spring sports.
However, it is still only March, and the boys basketball state tournament just wrapped up last weekend. This weekend, the girls basketball state tournament will conclude the winter season.
With winter all-conference selections running this week, I'm not ready to forget about our winter athletes.
Once again, it's awards time. With four of 12 teams earning conference titles and numerous other teams and athletes making their mark at state tournaments, it was a winter to remember. Six area athletes earned player of the year awards in their respective conferences.
So without further adieu, here is this winter's cream of the crop:
of the winter
Adam Montsma, junior, Faith Christian
The Eagles soared to one of the best seasons in area basketball history, and Montsma was the offensive catalyst.
Faith finished the season 24-1, winning the Indian Trails Blue Conference with a perfect 11-0 record. The Eagles coasted through much of the season unblemished, starting the campaign with a 24-0 mark before losing in the regional final against Milwaukee Academy of Science.
Montsma led the area in scoring with a 20.1 point-per-game average and was recently named the Indian Trails Blue Conference player of the year. Montsma scored 20 or more points 12 times this season, including a 39-point season high against SWCHA where he drained 14 of 15 free throws.
The 6-foot-3 scoring machine gives credit to his teammates. All five Faith starters averaged six or more points, with three in double figures.
"It's an honor to be conference player of the year, the honor could have gone to any of our starters on the team," Montsma said. "It is humbling to be given this award from coaches in our conference. During the summer, I got a little stronger and played a lot of basketball with friends and played in some tournaments as well."
Montsma wants to play college basketball, and he said he is "still improving to be a better basketball player."
Others receiving consideration: Joe Shane, senior, Badger swimming (conference player of the year); Lawrence Crement, senior, Williams Bay boys basketball (conference player of the year); Eddy Ruzga, senior, Badger wrestling; Randy Shine, junior, Badger wrestling; Ben Sass, senior, Faith Christian basketball; Tom Cychner, senior, Badger wrestling.
Female athlete of the winter
Lana Wieseman, Badger
One year after earning a spot on the Southern Lakes first team, this winter was Lana Wieseman's turn to dominate the competition.
The 6-foot-1 senior center led the area in scoring with 18.5 points per game and added eight boards per game. She helped lead the Lady Badgers to a 16-8 record and their first outright conference title since 1998.
For her efforts, Wieseman was named the Southern Lakes girls basketball player of the year.
Wieseman tallied 11 20-point games and scored in double figures in 23 of 24 games. Wieseman registered six double-doubles, including 13 points and 12 rebounds in a 42-41 regional semifinal win at Janesville Parker. It was one of Badger's first-ever wins over Parker, a program which has won three state titles and appeared in 12 state tournaments.
Wieseman is an inside-outside scoring threat who can put the ball on the floor and blow past a slower defender or pull up and drain an outside jumper over a quicker defender. Her versatility caused matchup nightmares for opponents all season.
Wieseman, the 2011 Regional News Female Athlete of the Year, hopes to play college basketball next year.
Others receiving consideration: Suzanne Knudtson, senior, Faith Christian (conference player of the year); Bailey Fitzpatrick, freshman, BBW gymnastics (conference player of the year); Molly Benavides, freshman, BBW gymnastics; Emma Kopp, sr., Badger basketball.
Team of the winter
Meet after meet this winter, the local grapplers continued to make history.
Their magical run culminated with the team's first team state appearance in the program's 50-year history. Despite a loss to Hartford in the Division 1 quarterfinals in Madison, Badger put its name on the state wrestling map.
The team won regional and sectional titles. For the first time, three Badger grapplers, Randy Shine (138), Eddy Ruzga (220) and Tom Cychner (285), stood on the medal stand at the state individual meet.
The Badgers enjoyed solid leadership from Shine and his brother Rory Shine and benefited from one of their deepest teams ever. Eight wrestlers qualified for sectionals, and four advanced to the state meet.
Badger coach Shane Koehl said this is only the beginning for his program, and he hopes this year's successes will help Badger become a household name in state wrestling.
Others receiving consideration: BBW gymnastics; Faith Christian boys basketball; Badger girls basketball.
Coach of the winter
Diane Biedrzycki, BBW gymnastics
For a team to place second at the state meet, it takes countless hours of hard work in the gym, with athletes meticulously honing their skills down to the very last detail.
And it takes a good coach to make sure all of that potential is realized. This year, Biedrzycki led the Burlington/Badger/Wilmot gymnastics squad to a second straight second-place finish at state.
The Demons breezed through the conference tournament and sectional tournament with impressive victories and entered the state meet undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state. However, BBW faltered in Wisconsin Rapids, having an off day and placing second behind Franklin.
BBW reeled off the three best scores in state gymnastics history, a 150.475, 150.225 and 148.775.
The BBW dominated so completely, it boasted the entire first and second teams of the Southern Lakes all-conference team. Bailey Fitzpatrick won athlete of the year. Lyons native Molly Benavides was first team all-SLC on the vault and in the all-around. Also, Badger senior Kerry Leonard was named to the second team for beam.
Biedrzycki, who owns Lakes Area Gymnastics in Burlington, has groomed several of her athletes into aerial acrobats since they were young children coming to her gym. She added a few freshmen to this year's squad from club gymnastics, and they meshed well with the veteran athletes.
Along with practice of routines, Biedrzycki promotes the mental aspect of the sport with her athletes, stressing focus and concentration.
Others receiving consideration: Glenn Biller, Badger swimming; David Jooss, Badger girls basketball; Brian Pollard, Faith Christian boys basketball; Shane Koehl, Badger wrestling.