EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Ryan Glendenning, jr., Darlington boys basketball
Glendenning scored 12 of his team-high 15 points during Darlington's 23–9 run to open Saturday's WIAA Division 4 regional final win over Deerfield. Glendenning gave Darlington the lead with a basket 43 seconds into the game and the Redbirds never trailed. He also hit a 3-pointer with 10:16 to play in first half to give Darlington the lead for good and spark a 14–0 run. The #3-seeded Redbirds (19–5) went to defeat second-seeded Demons (21–3) by a score of 64–51 to capture the program's first regional championship title since 1996. Glendenning also scored a season-high 20 points in Darlington's 76-60 regional semifinal win over Cambridge on Friday night. The Darlington junior is this week’s Mast Water Technology Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week.
“We frustrated them, especially in the first half. They didn’t really get into the flow on offense,” said Darlington head coach Mike Hopkins. “We had a good game plan thanks to assistant coaches Brad Solberg and Tom Uppena, but the players deserve all the credit for executing the game plan we put together.”
Glendenning is Darlington’s second leading scoring on the year at 12.1 points per game and the team’s top three-point shooter at 47.1 percent (33 for 70).
Darlington will now face SWAL rival Cuba City (17–7) in a D4 sectional semifinal game at Verona Thursday night at 7 p.m. Thursday’s winner will advance to the Baraboo Sectional final on Saturday to face either third-ranked Melrose–Mindoro (24–0) or La Crosse Aquinas (13–11) with a state berth on the line. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.
“As I told the team before their first playoff game, this is why you did a lot of traveling in the summer, going to tournaments in the Dells and playing weekly in the Stoughton league to face tougher competition,” added Hopkins. “It’s paid off for us.”
Trevor Wanek, fr., Fennimore wrestling
Wanek’s last-second 5–3 victory over Stratford freshman Macey Kilty helped propel the Golden Eagles to the Division 3 team state title with a 27–26 win over the top-ranked Tigers. Kilty placed second in the D3 106-pound class at the individual state tournament the previous weekend and Wanek (26–13) did not make it out of the preliminary matches. At the team tournament Wanek scored a late takedown to upset Kilty, 5–3, and cut the Stratford lead to 21–16 at the time. Fennimore won three of the final four matches to tie the Tigers with 26 points and the Golden Eagles won the tie-breaker with an 8–6 edge in matches won for the program's first-ever state title. Wanek also scored a pin in Fennimore 48–17 win over previously unbeaten Random Lake in the D3 state semifinal match.
“Man of man, did Trevor come to wrestle,” said Fennimore head coach Chad Steldt. “We had a specific game plan in that match and I knew Trevor was mentally strong enough and was enough of a gut-check wrestler to carry out the plans.
“There have been different times throughout the year where Trevor was mentally struggling, but time and time again the coaching staff and his teammates, especially Alston Nutter, would come in late at night to get an extra workout in, and mores to remind Trevor of what the team was trying to accomplish,” added Steldt. “As a 14-year old, it’s her to see March in November, and what it all means.
“To be honest, I do not think the majority of people could do it, but Trevor did. He stuck to a diet plan, he worked out two times per day, he listened to me and the long-term plans, and this weekend was not only a championship for a day for Trevor, bur more so a life lesson of what can happen, the felling of gratification that no one can take away when you pour your soul into a goal that helps not only you but the entire team. The is why it is amazing. Amazing kid.”
HONORABLE MENTION (In alphabetical order):
Nate Friederick, sr., Potosi boys basketball
The senior forward scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Potosi’s 73–51 regional quarterfinal victory over Ithaca. Frederick also scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high 15 boards in Friday’s 78–57 regional semifinal loss at Barneveld. Frederick finished the season averaging 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the 13–11 Chieftains.
Joe Helgerson, sr., Hillsboro boys basketball
The senior point guard made four first-half 3-pointers and finished with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists to lead the No. 1 ranked Tigers to a 66–57 Division 5 regional final victory over Alma/Pepin (17–6). Helgerson surpassed the 1,000-point mark in his four-year varsity career with 12 first-half points, joining teammate Max Stockwell in Hillsboro’s 1,000-point club. Helgerson had 14 points and four assists in Hillsboro’s regional opener last Tuesday against Granton, then added nine points in a 66–47 regional semifinal win over Augusta on Friday night. The Tigers will now face Scenic Bluffs Conference rival Bangor (22–3) in a D5 sectional semifinal at La Crosse Central High School Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Joey Meyer, jr., Shullsburg boys basketball
Meyer scored 54 points in three playoff games last week to lead the Miners to the Division 5 regional finals. Meyer went off for a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds in last Tuesday’s 67–29 regional quarterfinal win over Benton. Belmont double and tripled teamed Meyer in Friday’s regional semifinal game, but the 6-foot-8 center managed nine points and seven boards in a 55–51 win. Meyer closed out the season with 25 points and five rebounds in a 64–54 regional final loss to Seneca on Saturday night. Shullsburg finished the year 20–5 overall after winning the Six Rivers West title at 10–2.
Alston Nutter, so., Fennimore wrestling
The 2015 120-pound D3 individual state champion and 2016 state runner-up at 126, put the finishing touches on Fennimore’s first ever team state championship with a 14–2 major decision over . Nutter (43–6), opened Fennimore’s dominating semifinal win over Random Lake with a 53-second pin of Austin Udovich.
Blake Robson, fr., Cuba City boys basketball
Robson scored a game-high 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field to lead the fourth-seeded Cubans to a 44–40 upset of top-seeded Iowa–Grant in a Division 4 regional final Saturday night. Robson and the Cubans avenged their two previous losses this season and snapped the Panthers’ 22-game winning streak. The freshman guard scored nine points in a 68–45 regional semifinal victory over New Glarus on Friday. The Cubans will now face third-seeded Darlington (19–5) in a sectional semifinal Thursday night at Verona.
Justin Tollefsen, jr., Fennimore wrestling
The Fennimore junior opened the WIAA Division 3 State Team Wrestling championship dual with an 8–5 victory over state champion and previously undefeated Jeremy Schoenherr at 138 pounds. The thrilling victory set the tone for Fennimore’s 27–26 championship victory over No. 1 ranked Stratford, a dual that was ultimately decided on the fourth tie-breaker after a 26–26 tie. Tollefsen (37–8), an individual state runner-up at 138 pounds, scored a 10–1 major decision over Cordell Huiras in the semifinal victory over Random Lake.