EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Rhett Koenig, Jr., 132 pounds, Prairie du Chien Wrestling
MADISON — Prairie du Chien junior Rhett Koenig joined a list of just 79 wrestlers all time in the State of Wisconsin to have won three individual state titles Saturday at the 79th annual WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament at the Kohl Center. Koenig becomes PDC’s first three-time state champion with a a 6–2 win over Darlington/Black Hawk's Owen Seffrood. Koenig also secured PDC’s fifth wrestling state title (Mike Lenzendorf, Tyler Hannah, Koenig x3).
The quarterfinal round kicked off Friday morning wrestling. Koenig won by major decision 12–2 over Fink (Baldwin-Woodville). At 138#, Drew Hird would wrestle tough, but would lose 6-1 to Wolfe (West Salem/Bangor) who would be a State Runnerup. At 145#, Luke Kramer would lose by major decision 13-5 to VandeHey (Freedom) who would end up as State Runnerup. At 152#, Maddox Cejka would lose by fall in 2:55 to Licht (Lodi) who would go on to be the State Champ. At 195#, Blake Thiry would lose by major decision 18-5 to Matthias (Two Rivers), who would go on to finish in third place.
The excitement would build for Friday night as the semifinals approached. For many fans, this is considered to be the most exciting round of the tournament. Koenig would toe the line against Hart (Winneconne). Hart was a state champion last year at 120 pounds, so this match was expected to be a good one. After giving up the opening takedown, Koenig would go to work with a couple of escapes, a couple of takedowns, and a very convincing rideout to secure a 6–3 victory to advance to Saturday night’s state finals.
Championship Saturday night started at 5:30 with the Parade of Champions and National Anthem. Koenig faced an opponent he had beaten three times this year in Seffrood of Darlington/Blackhawk. All three match-ups had happened in the last three weeks with the SWC/SWAL Clash, regionals and sectional, which have also been Seffrood’s only losses of the year.
In period one, there would be a lot of ties with a few shot attempts combined, but no finishes for a scoreless first period. Koenig would win the coin toss and take down to begin period two. Koenig would work a stand up and get an escape 14 seconds into the period. Koenig would then work his ties to get a takedown with 1:09 left in the period. Seffrood would counter with an escape 10 seconds later to make the score 3-1. Koenig would get in on a shot again, but wasn’t able to finish.
At the start of period three, Koenig would intentionally concede an escape point and put Seffrood on his feet. The strategy worked well, as Koenig was able to once again control the ties and get to his shot for a takedown at the 1:14 mark and a 5–2 lead. Koenig would put on a tight ride, hardly letting his opponents hips or head off the mat for the remainder of the match. At the 9-second mark, Seffrood would be called for stalling and give up another point to make the final score 6–2 for Koenig’s third consecutive state title.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Cody Houtakker, Jr., C, Cuba City boys basketball
Houtakker scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds to lead the Cubans over Darlington, 82-54, in their finale on Thursday, Feb. 24. The victory allowed the Cubans to earn a share of the 2021-22 SWAL boys' basketball title. Houtakker shot 10-of-12 from the field, including a 3-of-3 performance from 3-point range. With the Cubans' leading scorer, senior point guard Brady Olson, missing the last two games, Houtakker has picked up the scoring slack with career-highs in back-to-back games
Howell outscored Belmont's first two playoff opponents by herself, netting a team-high 17 points in the top-seeded Braves' 79-12 win over #16 Weston last Wedensday and then adding a team-high 15 points in Friday's 52-13 win over #9 Ithaca. Howell scored nine points in Saturday's regional championship game against Wauzeka-Steuben to help the Braves down the Hornets, 65-59, for the regional title– just the third in school history and the first at Belmont since 2014.
Nate Reiff, Sr., C, and Peerson Kephart, Sr., PG, Southwestern boys basketball
Reiff led the Wildcats with 23 points, knocking down eight field goals, including four 3-pointers, and was 3-of-5 from the free throw line to lead Southwestern (16–7, 10–4 SWAL) to a 75–69 upset win over #4-ranked Mineral Point (21–3, 12–2 ) last Thursday night.. Reiff also pulled down 10 points and blocked five shots in the win, that helped the Wildcats clinch third place in the SWAL and forced Mineral Point to share the league title with Cuba City (22–2, 12–2). Kephart finished with 16 points, four assists and drew two huge charges on defense to aid the victorious Wildcats.
Ella Vosberg, Fr., G, Cuba City girls basketball
Vosberg averaged 16.7 points on 22 of 34 (64.7 percent) from the field, 5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3 steals in three regional games for the D4 regional runner-up Cubans (18–9). Vosberg finished 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the Cubans' 55–54 regional final loss to #2-seed La Crosse Aquinas (21–4) Saturday night. She also had a game-high 20 points, 5 steals and 4 rebounds in Friday's 67–62 regional semifinal win at #3-seed Cochrane–Fountain City (19–6).
Kennedy Wenger, Jr., F, Mineral Point girls basketball
Wenger had a game-high 18 points on 8 of 9 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and three steals in the undefeated, top-ranked Pointers' 57–46 WIAA Division 4 regional final victory over Lancaster (18–8) last Saturday night. Wenger also had eight points and four boards in Point's 69–25 regional semifinal win over SWAL rival Darlington (16–10) Friday night.