EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Riley Lull, sr., Riley Blair, so., Alston Nutter, so., Fennimore wrestling
The Fennimore trio of lightweights combined for 15 wins, including seven pins, two technical falls and one major decision, to lead the Golden Eagles to a regional title Saturday and the WIAA D3 Royall team sectional title Tuesday night and for that Lull, Blair and Nutter are this week’s Mast Water Technology co-Athletes of the Week.
All three won individual regional titles to lead Fennimore to the team title at Saturday’s D3 Riverdale regionals. Lull (35-8) defeated Iowa-Grant/Highland’s Sawyer Sarbacker to win the 113-pound title. Blair (18-4) pinned Lancaster’s Collin Lull late in the first-period to win the 120-pound title, while Nutter (36-5) defeated Mineral Point’s Logan Schmitz 18-3 in the 126-pound final. The Golden Eagles scored 253 points to beat SWAL rivals Mineral Point (224) and Iowa-Grant/Highland (169) for the regional crown.
“A total team effort,” said Fennimore head coach Chad Steldt, who noted the difference was every member of the Fennimore placing in the top four at the seven-team regional. “This was a tough regional and it was a great win for the team.”
Lull, Blair and Nutter all moved up a weight class and recorded a tech fall and back-to-back pins to close out Fennimore’s 57-12 dual meet victory in Tuesday’s team sectional semifinal win over Darlington/Black Hawk. While those semifinal victories were inconsequential, the trio’s three consecutive victories in the sectional final helped clinch a 37-22 victory over Cashton and earned Fennimore its second straight trip to team state that will be held Saturday, March 5 in Madison.
Lull’s 15-5 major decision over Jestin Hemmersbach at 120 gave Fennimore a 28-22 lead with two matches left. Blair then notched an 11-6 decision over Ethan Leis to clinch the Eagles’ victory at 31-22, and Nutter closed out the win with a pin of Cashton’s Devon Olson at 132.
Before leading Fennimore into team state, Lull, Blair and Nutter will first participate in Saturday’s WIAA D3 Mineral Point individual sectional with berths at next week’s individual state tournament on the line. Nutter is the defending state champion at 120 pounds, posting a 50-1 record as a freshman. Blair went 43-8 and finished third at 106, while Lull went 47-3 and also place third at 113.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Ben Burkhlder, sr., Cuba City boys basketball
The senior center posted 25 points, 15 rebounds and four steals in a 77-52 win over Fennimore last Thursday night. Saturday he recorded his 13th double-double of the season with a game-high 28 points and 12 rebounds in a 58-55 non-conference win over Platteville.
Joe Helgerson, Hillsboro boys basketball
Helgerson erupted for a career-high 29 points, making 11 of 16 shots, including 5 of 7 from the 3-point line, in a 72-36 blowout win at Cashton last Friday night. Helgerson, the best shooter in the Scenic Bluffs Conference, then made 6 of 11 from downtown and scored 23 points in a 72-51 victory over Ridge & Valley-leading Seneca on Tuesday night. The Tigers are currently 17-1 overall, 11-0 in the SBC and ranked third in Division 5 going into Thursday night’s SBC showdown with second-place Bangor (17-2, 10-1).
Kaitlyn Kaiser, Cuba City girls basketball
Kaiser averaged 18 points per game in three victories last week as the Cubans improved to 18-1 on the season and 12-1 in the Southwestern Wisconsin Activities League. She scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in a 53-45 non-conference comeback win over Dodgeville last Monday. The Cubans trailed 28-23 at the half. Tuesday night Kaiser scored a career-high 20 points in an 84-28 win over Southwestern. She finished the week with a co-game-high 18 points in a 76-37 win at Boscobel. Kaiser and the Cubans can win a share of this year’s SWAL title with a win over Mineral Point tonight (Thursday, Feb. 18).
Lane Kamps, Belmont boys basketball
The Belmont senior made four 3-pointers and scored 20 points to lead the Braves to a key 64-61 Six River West victory at Potosi on Monday night. He also made 6 of 8 free throws in the final minute to stave off a potential Chieftain comeback. Kamps also had 12 points, five boards and five assists in a 66-47 win over Ridge Ridge last Thursday. The Braves are currently 13-6 overall and tied for first place in the conference with Shullsburg at 8-2 with two games remaining.
Ryan Latham, sr., Boscobel boys basketball
Latham returned from an ankle injury and scored a game-high 24 points to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career in a 72-65 loss to Richland Center on Saturday.
Brooklyn Liegel, jr., Richland Center girls basketball
Liegel scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Hornets to a 49-40 victory over River Valley last Thursday night as Richland Center pulled into a first-place tie with Platteville (13-6, 7-2 SWC) in the SWC standings. Liegel and the Hornets will host the Hillmen tonight (Thursday) in a winner-take-all conference title game.
Braden Nies, jr., Platteville boys basketball
Nies banked in a three-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to lift the Hillmen to a 55-53 win at River Valley last Friday night. Nies hit a 10-footer in the lane with 1:45 left to pull Platteville within two, then made a three from the top of the key with 52 seconds left to tie the game at 52-52. After a River Valley free throw with 30 seconds left, Platteville called timeout to set up the final play and held for the last shot. Nies finished with a game-high 22 points.
Jack Schaffer, sr., Platteville/Lancaster boys swimming
The Lancaster senior qualified in three events for Friday’s WIAA Division 2 boys swimming state championships at last Saturday’s D2 Baraboo Sectional. After a breakout four silver medal-winning performance a week earlier at the Southern Lakes Conference meet, Schaffer qualified for state in the 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard breaststroke and the 200 medley relay. He finished second in the butterfly (54.05) and third in the breaststroke (1:03.23) and swam the fly leg on the seventh-place medley relay. Schaffer was a 2014 state qualifier as a sophomore in the 200 medley relay.