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Calling all stars

Sports Check

November 17, 2010 | 08:55 AM
Daylight savings time has come and gone. People are cranking up their thermostats before bed in fear of bitter cold. And soon, the first snow will make for hours of rigorous shoveling. Yes, wave bye to fall and hello to Wisconsin winter, replete with slick roads, howling winds and gallons of hot chocolate.

But, I'm not ready to forget about fall just yet. It's time to hand out my fall sports awards for the most outstanding team and individual performances.

This is a first-time thing, so bear with me. With so many standout athletes from Badger, Big Foot and Williams Bay, it was very hard to choose the winners.

So without further adieu, let's take a look at those teams and individuals who made these past couple months so amazing:

TEAM OF THE FALL: Badger football

Where do I start with this bunch? Most players would've stuck their heads in the sand after an 0-4 start, but not these guys. Led by a locomotive of a ground game, the Badgers ran through its competition for six straight wins, including the program's first-ever Division 1 playoff victory.

Coach Matt Hensler preached to his players to stick with the plan even after four straight losses, and the guys responded in major fashion. Along the way, the Badgers pounded playoff qualifier Westosha Central and edged Janesville Parker, one of the top football programs in the state. Three running backs, Trevor York, Rory Klean and Peter Krien, rushed for more than 700 yards.

But it wasn't all about offense for Badger. During the squad's six-game winning streak, Badger allowed 14 points per game while scoring 34.

Southern Lakes all-conference players for the squad included first-teamers Eric Winger, Mario Blanquel, Brendan Gruenwald-Schmitz and Tom Cychner; second-team selections York, Brad Nugent, Branden Allen and Mike McBride; and Klean, Blanquel and Adam Van Schyndel on the honorable mention list.

Overall, it was perseverance and a "never say die" attitude that made Badger the top team of the fall.

Honorable mention: Badger soccer, Big Foot football, Big Foot volleyball, Badger girls golf, Badger girls cross country

MALE ATHLETE OF THE FALL: Brendan Gruenwald-Schmitz, senior, Badger

If you had to look up the definition of athlete in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Brendan grinning.

He not only played football and soccer simultaneously this past fall, but he currently is a guard on the basketball team and will help lead the school's golf squad this spring. And did I mention he's a starter in all four sports?

Brendan reached a pinnacle of athletic achievement this fall, earning first-team all-conference honors in both football (kicker) and soccer (goalie). On the gridiron, his field goal proved to be the difference in Badger's 16-14 playoff victory over Parker. He finished his first year as a varsity football player with 51 points in 11 games, including five field goals.

And in soccer, his efforts helped Badger win the SLC title and advance to the WIAA sectionals for the fourth straight year. The senior blanked Elkhorn, 1-0, in overtime, to help his team reach sectionals.

Gruenwald-Schmitz is hoping to major in engineering at either Northwestern or Wisconsin next year. As far as sports, Brendan plans on kicking field goals, hopefully for a Big Ten school.

But something tells me this won't be the last we hear from Brendan. Stay tuned.

Honorable mention: Matric Kotula, senior, Badger soccer; Mason Dixon, sophomore, Big Foot football; Rory Klean, junior, Badger football; Dan Sepe, junior, Badger cross country; Mario Blanquel, senior, Badger football; Isaac Mendoza, senior, Big Foot/Williams Bay soccer.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE FALL: Cricket Geldermann, freshman, Badger tennis

This 15-year-old phenom is wise beyond her years on the tennis court. She posted a perfect 19-0 record including conference and sectional titles at No. 1 singles, something practically unheard of for a freshman.

And it's safe to say Cricket did all of it in style. She didn't let anyone touch her in conference or sectionals and breezed to two victories at state before finally falling in the round of 16. For her accomplishments, Geldermann was named the SLC player of the year and also earned second-team honors on the Wisconsin High School Tennis Coaches Association all-state team.

Geldermann has played in national tournaments since the age of 9, so state was nothing new for her.

She mentioned it was fun playing against all her friends at state, girls she had competed with or against nationally for years now. Cricket added her role model is former Big Foot/Williams Bay three-time state champ Caroline Starck.

As far as freshmen go, I can't remember a more impressive opening season for an athlete in my six years of covering prep sports. Geldermann is a once-in-a-generation athlete, and there is no ceiling for what she can accomplish. Keep working hard, kid.

Honorable mention: Maddie Clark, senior, Badger swimming; Annie Gaugert, junior, Badger golf; Annie Kunes, junior, Big Foot volleyball; Meghan Schneider, junior, Big Foot volleyball; Stephanie Tadje, junior, Big Foot/Williams Bay tennis; Maggie Lauterbach, senior, Big Foot/Williams Bay tennis; Colleen O'Neill, senior, Badger volleyball.

NEWCOMER OF THE FALL: Alex Swarthout, freshman, Badger girls cross country

Talk about coming out of nowhere.

For roughly the first month of the season, the Badger girls cross country squad was on track to easily take the Southern Lakes Conference crown. With top runners Aaryn Edge and Tristan Sproul leading the way, the Badgers consistently beat conference rival at area invites. Swarthout was the team's fourth runner in the beginning of the year.

But the tide turned toward the end of the fall. Edge developed a severe case of bronchitis, which limited her times, and Sproul had to miss sectionals and state due to shin splints. It was Swarthout who picked up the slack and helped Badger send two girls, Karina Reeves and Alex, to state.

It started with the SLC meet, where the freshman sensation won the meet with a time of 15:52, a full nine seconds ahead of the next closest competitor. It didn't end there. She placed fourth at the Racine Horlick Sectional at UW-Parkside and advanced to the state meet.

Simply making state as a freshman is quite the accomplishment. Futhermore, Swarthout was recently named the SLC runner of the year. She enjoys working hard and the motivation of coach Stefani Gustafson, so Alex should see plenty of ink time in the following years.

Honorable mention: Liz Carlson, freshman, Badger swimming; Carly O'Brien, freshman, Badger swimming; Mackenzie Long, freshman, Big Foot volleyball, Amy Schryver, freshman, Big Foot volleyball, Kyle Janikowski, sophomore, Badger soccer.

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