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Richland Center 12-year-old wins six national titles
Richland Center's Kari Craddock won six national track and field titles at the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals last week in Middleton.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year

Kari Craddock, Richland Center

     Richland Center’s Kari Craddock returned home a national champion after competing in the severe heat last week at the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals in Middleton. 

     The 12-year-old daughter of Scott and Karleen Craddock of Richland Center set a national record in the U14 age group in the discus throw, en route to winning that national title in her age group. She also won five other national championships in wheelchair racing in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and the 1,500 meters. 

Her outstanding performance earned Craddock this week’s Mast Water Technology Athlete of the Week award.

     Craddock competed in the discus last Wednesday and competed in the wheelchair track events on Thursday and Friday. She had to qualify for last week’s national championships by competing at the Chicago regional earlier this summer.

     The Junior Nationals is the oldest continuously held competitive sports event for junior athletes (ages 7 to 22) with physical disabilities in North America.

     Check out the upcoming Richland Center Observer for a get-to-know you feature article on Craddock.


HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):

Alex Erickson, Darlington, NFL football (Cincinnati Bengals)

     The 23-year-old Darlington native and former Wisconsin Badger standout began pursuit of his NFL dream when he opened training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals last Friday at Paul Brown Stadium. Erickson is one of 12 wide receivers to begin camp with the Bengals. The team is expected to keep six or seven on the 53-man roster and perhaps two or three more on its eight-man practice squad. The 6-foot, 195-pound Erickson signed with the Bengals as a free agent following the NFL draft in April.    

     Erickson becomes the fourth player from Southwest Wisconsin to sign with an NFL team in the past 12 years. Richland Center’s Bradie Ewing (FB) was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2012, but retired in 2015 after battling injuries during his brief three-year career. Platteville’s Louis Nzegwu (DE/LB) signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2012, but was later cut. He also briefly spent time with the Miami Dolphins and later was cut by the Carolina Panthers during training camp in 2013. Fennimore’s Luke Swan (WR) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008, but was place on waivers after off-season OTAs. Lancaster’s Josh Burr (OT) was on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad during the 2004 season.


Zach Hentrich, Lancaster golfer (Madison Edgewood)

     The 20-year-old Lancaster native finished in a three-way tie for 30th place out of 162 golfers at the Wisconsin State Amateur Golf Championship last week at the Par 70 Northern Shore Golf Club in Menasha. Hentrich, a 2014 graduate of Lancaster High School and a current junior at Edgewood College in Madison, shot a four-day score of 294 (14-over-par) at the 115th Wisconsin State Amateur, the state’s largest amateur golf tournament. Hentrich was one of 72 golfers to make the cut last Tuesday. He shot an opening round 75 and a 73 on Tuesday. He then shot his best round of the event, a 1-under-par 69 on Wednesday to move into 21st place. Hentrich finished the tournament with a 7-over-par 77 in the hot humid conditions on Thursday.


Emma Wein, Platteville, Dubuque Sting Rays 16U Softball

     Wein helped the Dubuque Sting Rays go undefeated to win the 16U Fastpitch Softball World Series in Beloit, July 15–17. The Sting Rays went 6–0 in the three-day tournament, and Wein recorded five wins pitching four complete games and earning another win in relief. Win was also selected to play in the 2016 Iowa USSSA All-State Tournament on July 23. Wein, who will be a sophomore at Platteville High School this fall, is the daughter of Kory and Amy Wein of Platteville.


Brian Wellington, Lancaster, karate

     Master Brian Wellington of Lancaster earned his sixth-degree black belt during the National Belt Test held in Bossier City, Louisiana on July 8. The 53-year-old Boscobel native and current Lancaster resident first became interested in martial arts as a 17-year-old in the late 1970s and first started taking lessons in Prairie du Chien in 1982. Wellington has owned and operated America’s Best Karate Education Center in Lancaster since 1996.