EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
By Tom Gunnell, Tri-County Press and Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal
A.J. Rury, Sr., FB, Mineral Point football
CUBA CITY — With the outcome of the game all but decided, the Cuba Cubans showed that there are more ways to be a winner than just on the scoreboard. Despite a disappointing ending to a difficult season, the Cubans’ coaching staff and players pushed aside their own heartbreak to go out of their way to brighten the spirits for one special Mineral Point player, senior fullback AJ Rury, who has Downs Syndrome.
Rury made his way onto the field with just under four minutes remaining with the Pointers possessing the ball at the Cubans’ 20-yard line. With cheers and tears streaming down from both sidelines and both crowds, Rury took the hand-off and weaved his way through a wave of Cuban would-be “tacklers” before breaking free down the sideline for a 20-yard touchdown run that touched the hearts of everyone in attendance.
“Every team in the SWAL knows Mr. Rury," said Cuba City head coach Guy Kopp about his team’s participation in the special moment.. "The Cuba City and Mineral Point coaches, players and fans did the right thing. I watched our players cheer and smile after he scored that almost made me tear up. Our team was very humble to be part of this. Hats off to that young man, we are so very proud of him."
Rury's touchdown run capped the scoring in Mineral Point's 39–13 victory.
The Pointers improved to 4–5 on the season and finished 3–2 in the SWAL and will face top-seeded Kenosha St. Joe's (9–0) in a WIAA Division 6 Level I playoff game Friday night at 7 p.m. The Cubans finished the year 2–7 overall and 2–3 in the SWAL.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order)
Mason Aide, Sr., Iowa–Grant boys cross country
Aide led the way for the boys team, running a personal best time of 16:39, and finishing runner up to Riverdale's Nick Stitzer, at last Thursday's SWAL Cross Country Championships to lead the Division 3 #2-ranked Iowa–Grant boys to the program's fourth conference title in the sport and first since 2000.
Brianna Kirsch, Jr., Lancaster girls golf
VERONA — Kirsch shot a two-day 166 (85–81) to place sixth individually at last week's WIAA Division 2 Girls Golf State Championships at University Ridge. She also led the Flying Arrows, who were making only their third appearance at the state meet, to a fifth-place team finish.
Kolby Lancaster, Sr., QB/DB, Belmont football
BELMONT — Lancaster in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter to sink the #4-ranked De Soto Pirates, 32-20, and capture sole possession of the newly-renamed Ridge and Valley-8 Player West title at BHS on Friday, Oct. 14. Lancaster ran 37 times for 184 yards and four scores to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, and he went 7-for-9 passing for 52 yards and a score to also top the 1,000-yard passing mark to lead the Braves (7–1 overall, 5–0 RV8W) to their seventh straight victory.
Nora Jillson, So., Boscobel cross country
FENNIMORE — Sophomore Nora Jillson raced to an individual conference title last Thursday and in the process led the Boscobel girls to a second-straight Southwest Wisconsin Activities League title. Jillson, who helped the Lady Bulldogs win last year’s WIAA Division 3 state title, crossed the finish line Thursday at Fennimore’s Hickory Grove Golf Course with a winning-time of 18:53.8, more than 30 seconds ahead of runner-up Adalee Berget (19:27.7) of Darlington. Boscobel won the girls title with 43 points, while Darlington (57) and Albany (63) finished second and third.
Brian Richter, Jr., Platteville boys cross country
SPRING GREEN — Richter proved just how important the non-counting sixth and seventh runners can be in the sport of cross country at last Thursday's SWC Championships. Richter finished 15th at 18:42.2 to beat Dodgeville/Mineral Point sixth runner sophomore Jesse Yoder (16th place, 18:52.2) by one place to break a 39–39 and give the Platteville boys this year's SWC title. "This was most likely the closest race I have been a part of in all my years of coaching," said Platteville head coach Rob Serres. "To end in a tie and then have a sixth runner beat another sixth runner by one place is simply exciting. To be on the winning end of that is an incredible feeling!”