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Belmont senior SS smashes 3 HR in regional win over Barneveld
Nikki Knebel 5-22-19
Belmont senior Nikki Knebel homered three times and drove in five runs in the Braves' WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal victory over Barneveld Tuesday afternoon.

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

Nikki Knebel, Sr., SS, Belmont softball
     BELMONT — Belmont senior shortstop Nikki Knebel’s hot bat carried the Braves to an 8–4 WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal victory over #8 Barneveld Tuesday’s afternoon at Bond Park. Knebel belted three home runs in three at-bats and drove in a season-high five RBI to help the top-ranked Braves (21–1) advance to today’s (Thursday’s) regional final against #5 seed Black Hawk (11–7). She also walked in her other plate appearance.
    Knebel ripped a two-run blast in the bottom of the first to give Belmont a 2–1 lead. McKenzie Reuter homered two batters later for the Braves. Knebel added a solo homer in the third and a two-run dinger in the fifth to extend the Belmont lead to 6–3.
     Knebel is batting .453 (34-for-75) with 11 doubles, one triple, six homer runs, 23 RBI, 21 runs scored and 10 stolen bases in 22 games entering Thursday’s regional final for the four-time defending Six Rivers West champions.      

HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Andy Eggers, Sr., Platteville boys golf
     Eggers shot a sizzling 1-under par 70 at last Wednesday’s SWC Championships at Viroqua Hills Golf Course and in the process helped the Hillmen win the team title with a 35-stroke victory over runner-up River Valley and clinch the overall SWC title with a perfect 48 points. Platteville won all six regular season SWC meets. Eggers finished fourth in the individual SWC standings to earn first-team All-SWC honors. Wednesday he shot an 86 to tie for fifth place and help Platteville win the WIAA Division 2 River Valley Regional at the House on the Rock Resort.

Austin Jentz, Jr., Platteville boys track and field
     Jentz helped the Platteville boys win a fourth straight conference title by winning a pair of individual gold medals at last Tuesday’s Southwest Wisconsin Conference meet with career-best throws in the shot put (50’10.25”) and the discus (172’5”).

Simon Mitchell, Jr., Mineral Point boys golf
     Mitchell shot a 10-over par 81 to win the SWAL conference tournament last Tuesday at the Platteville Country Club and help the Pointers claim both the tournament and overall conference titles. This past Tuesday he shot a 2-over-par 72 to win medalist honors on his home course at the WIAA Division 3 Mineral Point Regional. The Pointers also claimed the team title with a 14-stroke victory over runner-up New Glarus, 356–370.

Lydia Murphy, Sr., MF, Platteville/Lancaster girls soccer
     The Lancaster senior was one of 16 girls throughout the state to be named a finalist for the WIAA’s prestigious 2019 Scholar Athlete Award underwritten by Marshfield Children’s Hospital. The top four boys and top four girls in each Division were selected for the honor with the averaged GPA of the 32 finalists being 3.95. This year, 823 seniors were nominated for the award by 417 high schools throughout the state. Murphy who will be attending UW–Madison this fall is the LHS 2019 Salutatorian and was a 2018 state cross country qualifier, was named first-team All-SWC in basketball and is the reigning SWC Player of the Year in soccer. She scored helped the Platteville/Lancaster co-op (11–4–2, 9–0 SWC) clinch a fourth straight SWC title with a 7–0 win at Richland Center on Tuesday.