EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Friday morning throughout the calendar year.
For the second time in four weeks we have a pair of Mast Water Technology Athletes of the Week. Boscobel senior Dakota Kauffman finished second individually at the WIAA Division 3 state cross country meet to lead his Bulldogs to a second-place team finish. Southwestern senior middle hitter Michelle Budden led her Southwestern Wildcats to a Division 4 sectional volleyball title and a return trip to state with a pair of victories last week.
Dakota Kauffman, Sr., Boscobel cross country
Boscobel's four-year state qualifier finished second out of 152 runners at Saturday's D3 state championships at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids with a time of 16:27.14. Only Chequamegon senior Kevin Koski (16:02.59) crossed the finish line before Kauffman.
Kauffman finished second a year ago behind Koski and fifth in both 2012 and 2013. Boscobel head coach Skyler Reynolds characterized Kauffman's four straight top-5 finishes as, “unheard off.”
Kauffman led the pack of Bulldogs, which also included top-25 finishes from teammates Jordan Molzof (12th) and Seth Laxton (24th), as Boscobel finished second with 106 points behind only five-time D3 boys champion Darlington (49). Chequamegon (123) finished third.
“We knew things were going to be really tight with a handful of teams in the top five, so it was important for everyone to run their race and not get caught up in trying to do too much,” Reynolds said. “We ran in some big meets this year, and it helped our guys stay calm and not panic with so many people around. Our guys went from fourth place at the mile to passing 31 runners and into second place at two miles.
“Over the final 1.1 miles, the guys buckled down and held their position with a big finish to distance ourselves from third place Chequamegon. We saw some big time performances up front, and carried right down the line. Dakota came battling back on pure guts from a good distance to secure second place, Jordan went off in the last 1,000 meters, and Seth continued one of the most consistent seasons we’ve had to give us a really low point total up front.”
Michelle Budden, Sr., Southwestern volleyball
Budden had a team-high 30 kills and four blocks to lead the Wildcats to a 26–24, 23–25, 25–22, 25–16 Division 4 sectional final victory over fourth-ranked Royall last Saturday night at Onalaska Luther High School. Budden's big night helped Southwestern secure a second straight sectional crown and a return trip to the Resch Center in Green Bay. The Wildcats will square off with Clayton (23–8) in Friday morning's D4 state semifinals at 10 a.m. Defending champion Wausau Newman Catholic (38–1), which defeated Southwestern in last year's D4 state title match, will face Living Word Lutheran in the other semifinal. The D4 championship will be played Saturday at 9 a.m.
Budden had 19 kills and four blocks to led Southwestern to 25–13, 25–18, 25–9 sweep of River Ridge last Thursday in the sectional semifinal round. Budden had a key 10-point service run in the first set that turned a one-point lead into a 17–6 advantage and set the tone for the entire match. Budden leads the Wildcats with a whopping 534 kills and 179 blocks.
Jaden Komprood, Sr., Darlington cross country
The senior star finished fourth, his second straight top-5 finish at state, with a time of 16:46.21 to lead the Redbirds to a fifth straight WIAA Division 3 team title Saturday at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Hunter Johnson, Jr., Darlington football
The junior scoring machine rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Redbirds to a 55–28 second-round victory over Mineral Point in last Friday's WIAA Division 6 playoff game. Johnson and Darlington will host seventh-seeded Cambridge (7–4) Friday at 7 p.m.
Cam Jensen, Sr., Cassville football
Jensen completed 20 of 36 passes for a new school record 292 yards and two touchdowns in Friday's 35–14 level 2 loss at Burlington Catholic Central. Jensen also rushed for a team-high 34 yards on nine carries. His 292 yard passing eclipsed the old record mark of 261 yards set by Chad Infield in 1993 against Potosi.
Hunter Dischler, Sr., Ithaca football
The 5-foot-4, 155-pound senior rushed for 113 yards and scored four touchdowns on just 13 carriers to lead the undefeated Bulldogs (11–0) to 42–14 victory over sixth-seeded Highland in a Division 7 Level 2 playoff game last Friday. Dischler and Ithaca will travel to top-seeded Bangor (11-0) Friday night for a Level 3 game.