Three-sport athletes need a good amount of endurance just to compete in three sports over the course of one academic year. For New London Bulldog Bridget Pethke, that endurance was mixed with incredible athleticism, resulting in an undefeated State Championship basketball season and a few new school records in track and field.
Pethke knows plenty about endurance, as she began the school year this past fall on the cross country team.
“I’ve been on varsity for cross country, basketball and track all four years in high school,” Pethke said. “As a freshman, I was more competitive as a distance runner. My focus eventually shifted to sprints, but cross country was a great starting point. Coach Ron DuVernay was awesome-he could always make us smile.”
As cross country gave way to basketball, Pethke and her teammates set their sights on repeating as Division II State Champions. The Lady Bulldogs accomplished that goal, ending the season with a 42-game winning streak. Pethke’s relentless pressure on defense was a key to New London’s success, and her scoring touch on offense also boosted the Lady Bulldogs.
“You have to want to play defense. We applied a lot of pressure and that helped us get turnovers and score in transition,” Pethke said. “On offense, we moved the ball around and hit a lot of shots.”
Despite missing some track workouts due to the basketball team’s title run, Pethke still found a way to dominate on the track this spring, earning a trip to state for the 300m hurdles. She also set school records in the pole vault and 4x400m relay with teammates Candice Zehner, Lexi Roland, and her sister Amber Pethke.
“I didn’t get a chance to really prepare for track because the basketball season went so long,” Pethke said. “I was worried I wouldn’t be prepared, but I was determined to make it to state. All of my coaches were very helpful, and our whole track team was very positive. We supported each other and lots of girls stepped up when we needed them to.”
Pethke also excelled in the classroom this year, earning a 3.9 grade point average (GPA). She attributes much of her academic success to the support she received from teachers and her family.
“My freshman year wasn’t a ‘slacker year’. That’s probably what helped keep my GPA up high,” she said. “I also learned to use my time wisely. Time management is important.
“My teachers were very supportive. I’d go in to school early to get help when I needed it, and they always helped me. My parents taught me that I have to take responsibility for my grades, and they made sure I was doing that,” said Pethke.
“My parents were also very supportive of my athletic pursuits-they were at every game. They were always there for me any time I needed them. I always knew I could talk to them about anything,” said Pethke. “That was the best thing-just having my parents there to support me.”
Pethke also had the opportunity to play sports with sisters Rachel and Amber, but not Cassidy. “I wish I could have played with Cassidy too, but she was always there at my games, so it was great to have her support,” Pethke said.
After capping an incredibly successful academic and athletic career at New London High School, Pethke has learned the keys to accomplishment.
“You have to be self-motivated, and you can’t ever give up. I motivated myself in every sport I participated in-even team sports,” Pethke said. “You get out what you put in. You have to have a little bit of attitude, but you also need to be respectful to your coaches and teachers. When you show respect, people are willing to help you, and they want to help you. They’re not obligated to help, but respect opens the door.
“I’ve learned that with teamwork, determination and dedication, you can do great things,” concluded Pethke. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who push you to succeed in different ways.”
Pethke will attend college at St. Mary’s in Winona, Minn., this fall. She will pursue a degree in science, and plans to play basketball.