Looking back at this year’s top sports stories
By Greg Seubert
State championships in football, cross country, track and dance, a successful girls’ hockey season and a renovated baseball diamond added up to a memorable sports season in 2015.
Here are some of the stories that made Waupaca County Post headlines during the year:
• Iola-Scandinavia graduate Luke Albers caught a touchdown for North Dakota State’s football team, as the Bison defeated Illinois State 29-27 Jan. 18 to win their fourth consecutive Division 1 FCS national championship. Albers caught a 6-yard TD pass from Carson Wentz that gave the Bison their first lead in the second quarter. The Bison will play for a fifth straight title Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, against Jacksonville State in Frisco, Texas.
• Waupaca senior Mandy Tomlinson scored her 100th goal Jan. 19 in the Waupaca Area girls’ hockey team’s 6-0 Great Northern Conference win over Stevens Point/Wisconsin Rapids. She finished with three goals in the game.
• Weyauwega-Fremont senior Oliver Radtke notched his 100th wrestling win Jan. 24 at the Central Wisconsin Conference Duals in Plainfield.
• Junior Karissa Akey broke Weyauwega-Fremont’s school record for rebounds Jan. 27 during the Indians’ win over Manawa. Her seven rebounds in the game gave her 663. Lisa Whitman had set the previous record of 656 in 1981,
• The 2014-15 season went down in the history as the most successful for Waupaca High School’s dance team, as the squad won its third straight Division 2 Jazz and Division 3 Pom state championships Feb. 7 in the state cheer/pom competition in La Crosse.
• The Waupaca Area girls’ hockey team won a Great Northern Conference championship in only its third year of competition. The team wrapped up the title with 9-0 and 8-2 wins over Lakeland and Tomahawk, respectively.
• A senior and a freshman turned out to be an effective one-two scoring punch for the Waupaca Area girls’ hockey team. Senior Mandy Tomlinson led the state during the regular season with 57 goals and 37 assists, while freshman Markie Ash finished third with 47 goals and 36 assists.
• Iola-Scandinavia senior Brooke Phillips scored her 1,000th point in her final regular-season game for the Thunderbird girls’ basketball team Feb. 19 during a 46-41 loss to Weyauwega-Fremont.
• A pair of Central Wisconsin Conference wrestlers finished among the top heavyweights in Wisconsin at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Meet in Madison. Almond-Bancroft/Pacelli’s Cole Warzynski and Weyauwega-Fremont’s Andy Bork placed first and sixth, respectively, in the Division 3 285-pound weight class.
• The Girls Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association named Waupaca Area’s Tim Guyer as Wisconsin’s coach of the year after leading the team to a 23-3 record and a conference championship. Senior Mandy Tomlinson made the association’s all-state team, while freshman Markie Ash received honorable mention. “It’s a huge honor,” Guyer said after attending an awards presentation banquet in Madison. “It’s a team award. It took along of people around us to get these awards.”
• First Baptist Christian School’s boys’ basketball team repeated as state champions after winning the Wisconsin Association of Christian Schools State Tournament in Watertown. The Eagles defeated Calvary Baptist of Menomonee Falls 71-64.
• Little Wolf High School’s boys’ bowling team placed second at the state tournament in Madison.
• Waupaca High School’s trap and skeet team began its first season of competition March 23 by hosting Waupun at the Waupaca Conservation League grounds. Thirteen WHS students signed up for the Comet Clay Crushers Trap and Skeet Club, which participated in the Kettle Moraine Conference with teams from Berlin, Waupun, North Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac, Neenah, Menasha and Winneconne.
• Weyauwega-Fremont’s boys’ golf team won a 12-team invitational April 17 on one of Wisconsin’s best-known courses. The Indians turned in an 18-hole round of 383 at the meet, held at Whistling Straits’ Irish Course, near Sheboygan. Teams from Iola-Scandinavia, Manawa, Amherst and Marion also competed.
• Waupaca’s boys’ and girls’ track teams swept the Waupaca County Meet, held April 25 at New London High School. The annual event gives teams from Waupaca County’s seven high schools a chance to compete against each other.
• Weyauwega-Fremont’s Caragan Volz broke a pair of school track records – including one of her own – at two meets. She won the girls’ 100-meter hurdles event May 8 at the W-F Open and broke her own triple jump record May 2 at the Fastest Four & Field Meet in Princeton.
• Waupaca’s Tatiana Sotka was named the top girls’ runner May 16 at the Eastern Valley Conference Meet in Appleton.
• Waupaca senior Frankie Ellingson was named the Eastern Valley Conference’s golfer of the year after he carded a 77 May 20 at the conference meet at Thornberry Creek at Oneida.
• Iola-Scandinavia won its third Central Wisconsin Conference boys’ golf championship after the Thunderbirds placed first May 21 at the conference meet at Foxfire Golf Club in Waupaca.
• Wild Rose junior Breanne Marchan won the Division 3 girls’ high jump event at the WIAA State Track & Field Meet in La Crosse and joined Ashley Caswell, Noelle Rasmussen and Johanna Shepard on the winning 400-meter relay team. That same foursome also placed second in the 800-meter event.
• The Weyauwega-Fremont softball team’s quest for a trip to state came up two wins short, as the Indians dropped a 1-0 decision June 2 to Laconia in a Division 3 sectional semifinal in Amherst.
• Iola-Scandinavia’s Zach Mortenson capped his junior season on the Iola-Scandinavia boys’ golf team by competing in the WIAA state meet in Verona. Meanwhile, teams from Waupaca and Manawa competed in sectional play, as well as Weyauwega-Fremont’s Alex Hulbert. Mortenson went on to tie for 16th place in Division 3.
• Waupaca’s baseball team dropped a 3-2 decision to Milwaukee Lutheran June 9 in a Division 2 sectional final in Mayville. The Comets also defeated Kettle Moraine Lutheran a 6-0 loss in a semifinal matchup earlier in the day.
• Waupaca’s Ken Dayton was one of 12 umpires chosen to officiate the WIAA State Baseball Championships in Grand Chute. He ended up working six of the 20-team tournament’s 16 games, including the Division 2 and Division 1 championship games.
• Amherst’s Tyler Biadasz made a verbal commitment to play football at the University of Wisconsin. Iola-Scandinavia’s Kristian Welch also committed to play football at the University of Iowa.
• New Weyauwega-Fremont football coach Pat Fee held a three-day football camp. Fee, a longtime assistant coach on the team, took over for Tom Chase, who stepped down to take an assistant coaching position at Ripon College.
• Iola’s American Legion baseball team competed July 29-30 at the American Legion Class A State Tournament in West Salem. The team fell to Wisconsin Dells and Marathon.
• Former Iola-Scandinavia standout Austen Lane announced his retirement from the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted the 2006 I-S High School graduate in the fifth round of the 2010 draft after he played college football at Murray State. He started nine games for the Jaguars in his rookie year and later spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.
• Little Wolf High School inducted seven former athletes and coaches into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame Aug. 22. This year’s inductees are Bob Lieberman, Gene Sorenson, Sonja Sorenson Nellis, Cody Dean, Orville Joch, Ann Buschke Nelson and Corey Peterson.
• The Waupaca Lakemen headed into the BABA playoffs with a No. 1 seed after a 2-0 win over Scandinavia.
• More than 700 people competed Aug. 15 in the Waupaca Area Triathlon. The long course included a half-mile swim in Shadow Lake, a 20-mile bicycle ride throughout Waupaca County and a 3.1-mile run on city streets, while the short course consisted of a quarter-mile swim, 12-mile ride and 2-mile run.
• Plover ended the season for the Waupaca Lakemen Aug. 23 with a 9-0 no-hit shutout. Lakemen pitcher Jeff Riddle was named the South-Central Division’s top pitcher after he posted an 8-0 record and a 0.774 ERA.
• Waupaca High School graduate Zander Neuville received a football scholarship from the University of Wisconsin, where he saw plenty of action this season. He had joined the Badgers in 2014 as a preferred walk-on.
• The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers donated its old infield sod from Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute to area schools. Timber Rattlers employees, including team president Rob Zerjav, showed up at Weyauwega-Fremont High School’s baseball field Sept. 9 to help install more than 20 pallets of sod on the diamond’s dirt infield.
• Waupaca High School recognized John Koronkiewicz for his 40 years as an assistant and head football coach at the school. Several of his former assistants attended an Oct. 2 game at Haberkorn Field. The Comets beat Shawano 46-6 in the team’s Homecoming game and qualified for the WIAA playoffs for the 25th straight season, the second-longest streak in the state.
• More than 200 volunteers spent time at Hartman Creek State Park Oct. 13-18 to help build a new 1.5-mile-long stretch of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. When they weren’t out on the trail, they camped in the park’s group campground and some slept in tents as nighttime temperatures dropped into the 20s.
• Alissa Niggemann wrapped up her cross country career at Amherst High School Oct. 31 by winning the girls’ Division 3 race at the WIAA State Cross Country Meet in Wisconsin Rapids. Two of the runners she faced a number of times throughout the season – Iola-Scandinavia’s Erika Kisting and Marion’s Delaney Greene-Gretzinger, the race’s defending champion, placed third and fourth, respectively. Another I-S runner, Leighten Fischer, placed 13th, while Amherst, which qualified its girls’ team, finished 10th out of 16 squads. Waupaca’s Mitchell Rotta placed 99th in the boys’ Division 2 race, while Amherst’s Seth Barnes finished 109th in the boys’ Division 3 race.
• Waupaca Middle School’s soccer program wrapped up its first season of league play with a 14-0 record.
• Weyauwega-Fremont’s Becky Schroeder and Wild Rose’s Breanne Marchan were named volleyball players of the year in the Central Wisconsin-8 and CW-10 conferences, respectively.
• Amherst High School’s football team wrapped up an undefeated season Nov. 19 with a 42-0 win over Spencer/Columbus Catholic in the WIAA Division 5 state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. It was the second state championship for the Falcons in four years. Amherst also finished as runner-up last year.
• Weyauwega-Fremont’s boys and girls’ basketball teams swept Manawa Dec. 18 in a Rock the Gym event in Weyauwega. The girls defeated the Wolves 68-32, while the boys picked up an 80-50 win under first-year coach Kyle Loughrin.