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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Payton Heinberg
Darlington sophomore leads #1-ranked Redbirds to sixth straight state title
Payton Heinberg
Darlington sophomore Payton Heinberg finished third overall in last Saturday's WIAA Division 3 boys state cross country meet to lead the Redbirds to a sixth straight state title.

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


Payton Heinberg, So., Darlington boys cross country

     The Darlington sophomore finished third individually in the WIAA Division 3 boys state cross country meet with a time of 16:33 to lead the top-ranked Redbirds to a sixth straight Division 3 state title. Heinberg is this week’s Mast Water Technology Athlete of the Week for the week of Nov. 3.

     “It feels absolutely awesome,” Heinberg told the Darlington Republican Journal following the race. “I was just hoping to pull through for every single one of my teammates. That was what was going through my head the whole race. I wanted to do it for them and for my buddy who passed away last March. To be able to do it again is phenomenal.” 

     Heinberg and the Redbirds lived up their number-ranking throughout the season and won the D3 team title Saturday at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids with 68 points, finishing 17 points better than runner-up La Crosse Aquinas (85) and well ahead of Durand (118).

     With the title Darlington became just the second school in state history to win six state championships in a row joining Milwaukee Riverside, which owns the state record with eight straight from 91–1920 and also turned in six straight first-place finishers from 1923–28.

     “I am so proud of what they’ve done,” said Darlington Hall of Fame head coach Arnie Miehe. “It’s a tribute to the kids and their parents. The fact that they don’t get caught up in it and don’t get big egos says a lot about them. They understand what it takes to get what they want and they are not afraid to put in the work. They are doing it for pride and for all the right reasons. We have to keep our feet on the ground and keep going.” 

    Iowa–Grant will travel to Wisconsin Heights to face the Vanguards (29–5) in a Division 3 sectional semifinal at 7 p.m.


HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):

John Ross Linscheid, QB/DB, Highland football

     Linscheid topped his first-round playoff performance with an even better one. J.R. rushed for 203 yards on 19 carries and scored all six Highland touchdowns in a 49–13 WIAA Division 7 Level 2 victory at previously unbeaten Ithaca last Friday night. A week earlier, Linscheind rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns in Highland’s convincing 42–6 win over fifth-seeded Iowa–Grant in the opening round.



Lydia Murphy, So., Lancaster girls cross country

     The tremendously talented sophomore raced to a second-place finish at Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 state cross country championships with a time of 19:26.98, 14 seconds behind champion Noelle Marie of Belleville.  


Paige Schilling, Sr., Darlington girls cross country

     Schilling finished a team-best 17th place overall (seventh in the D3 team competition) with a time of 20:27 in Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 girls state cross country championship race to lead the Lady Redbirds to the D3 state title. Schilling’s performance helped second-ranked Darlington capture the school’s first state title in any girls sport by edging three-time defending D3 state champion and top-ranked Oshkosh Lourdes by three point 89–93.


Nathan Weidge, Sr., Shullsburg football

     Wedige caught five passes for a team-best 116 yards and both of Shullsburg’s touchdowns in a 13–12 WIAA Division 7 Level 2 playoff win over Black Hawk last Friday. Wedige’s second TD catch, with 1:31 left in the third quarter, tied the game at 12–12 and set up fellow senior Hunter Mayte’s game-winning extra point.