EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Adam Larson, Sr., F, Fennimore boys basketball
Adam Larson’s magnificent recent run continued last week. He opened last week with a 33-point, 15-rebound, 10-block triple double in a 61–45 win over River Valley last Monday, then posted a team-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 89–57 win in a makeup game with Iowa–Grant last Wednesday. Larson then played perhaps his best game of the season a night later, posting a game-high 24 points (on 10 of 13 shooting), 23 rebounds and nine blocks in a dominating 66–53 upset of top-ranked Cuba City.
A night later Larson scored 14 points in a loss at Darlington to become the Fennimore boys’ all-time leading scorer with 1,652 points, breaking his older brother Reid Larson’s previous record of 1,640 points. Larson was fouled on the first possession of the game attempting a 3-pointer and made 2 of 3 from the free throw line to tie his older brother Reid’s all-time program scoring record. With nine minutes left in the half, Larson spun past Darlington senior Cayden Rankin and knocked down a pull up jumper over a pair of defenders to break the record. Larson finished the game with a team-high 14 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks in the 72–41 loss.
“With a challenging year, we were just happy he was able to have a chance to break the record because we didn’t even know how many games we would get to play,” said coach (and father) Troy Larson. “To break Reid’s record was also pretty special. Those two going to the gym together and playing together has been their entire basketball life. Some of Adam’s best basketball memories are playing with Reid. He always played with him when they were younger because Reid’s team needed extra players.
“We never cared how they would finish up as far as one and two, but it’s just pretty neat to see their names next to each other because they have always been connected by the game of basketball. Records are meant to be broken.”
There was a time in Adam’s life when basketball wasn’t important. He lost his neighbor and friend Derek Lendosky to an accident on Aug. 4, 2013, when he was just 10 years old.
“Those early middle school years were a real struggle for him,” said coach Larson. “During fifth, sixth and seventh grade basketball just wasn’t important. His head just wasn’t in it. He was dealing with bigger issues.
“But then in the eighth grade he pulled me aside and told me he wanted to play with Reid the next year when he was a freshman. That’s how important Reid is to him. I told him it was going to be a lot of work and he had a long ways to go, but he did it. He made varsity as a freshman and played two years with his brother. That was as important to him as anything.”
Brody Lee, Sr., 132 pounds, Fennimore wrestling
WAUSAU — Brody Lee’s junior season ended with a shoulder injury that cost him a chance to compete in a third straight individual state wrestling tournament. He also had to sit out Fennimore’s run to a second-place finish at last year’s WIAA Division 3 Team State Tournament.
Lee had offseason shoulder surgery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and rehabbed vigorously for one final chance to compete at State, even though he was unsure if there would even be a 2020–21 WIAA wrestling season.
Saturday night, Lee closed out his standout career for the Golden Eagles wrestling for the 132-pound state title at the WIAA D3 Individual Wrestling State Tournament at Wausau East High School.
Lee (12–1, #3) advanced to Saturday night’s championship match with a 55-second pin over Marathon senior Jared Sweno (14–5, #8) and an 8–2 decision over #2-ranked Caleb Delsman (11–4), a senior from Reedsville.
Lee suffered a 6–3 decision in the title bout to undefeated top-ranked senior Jack Severin (22–0) of Kewaunee to place second in his third trip to the WIAA state tournament. Severin scored a takedown at the 56-second mark of the opening period before Lee escaped to make it 2–1.
Lee won the toss and chose the down position to start the second period and tied the match on an escape 25 seconds into the period. But Severin scored a second takedown with 39 seconds left in the second to take a 4–2 lead. Lee was awarded a penalty point early in the third period, but couldn’t convert a takedown to get the lead. Severin finished off his third takedown of the match with six seconds left to account for the final score.
Lee finished his career with an overall record of 104–37. He was a three-time state qualifier and helped the Golden Eagles win the 2019 D3 Team State title two years ago as a sophomore, with Team State runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2020.
“Brody’s high school record of 104–37 says a lot in itself about who Brody is as a person and a wrestler,” said Fennimore interim co-head coach Jeff Muench. “The scheduled caliber of duals and tournaments set up by coach Steldt during Brody’s four years is one of the toughest in the state. I can’t say enough about the work ethic and dedication that Brody has put in and can only hope that he will continue on to the next level to wrestle. I think he still has a lot to offer the sport.”
“When I think of Brody overall, as a complete athlete, I can best sum him up with an old Aristotle quote, ‘the whole is more important than the sum of all its parts,’” said Fennimore coach Chad Steldt, who stepped away from the program this year due to health concerns. “Brody has always put, not just the team, but the Fennimore wrestling program, in front of himself. As a coach it is gratifying to have a young kid realize in ninth grade that he can be a part of a program bigger than himself.
“It sounds like the right thing to do, but as a 13 year old boy, your world is what you see, not what is always best. Brody found peace and satisfaction knowing he was a part of something special. He carried that perspective with him all four years, being a torchbearer for the new leaders coming up through the ranks.”
The biggest sacrifice for Brody came his sophomore year, where he was a top-ranked 113 pounder in Division 3. He also took fourth at a national Cliff Keen Invitational that year at 113 pounds.
“We all knew for us to win a state title in 2019 that Brody had to make the cut to 106,” said Steldt. “A 5’11’’ kid having the discipline and belief that he could do it and help Fennimore win a state title was something special. As we all know, the individual tournament would be tough because of the multiple day weigh-ins, but the following week Brody shined. A Cinderella story of sorts. He redeemed a loss from the individual state tournament the week before.”
In typical Fennimore fashion, the 2019 D3 Team State Championship came down to Lee against Stratford’s Logan Gaulke in the final match of the of the D3 championship dual with the Eagles clinging to a 25–25 lead. Lee pinned Gaulke and Fennimore won its second Team state title in four years with a 31–25 victory.
“He wins, the team wins, he loses and we lose,” said Steldt. “He thrives in such situations and thus history was made. After three months of being the most disciplined dieter we have ever seen, Brody finished the deal and we were once again state champs. This is not only a testament to Brody, but his mom and dad, the sacrifices they had to make so their son was best prepared."
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Gus Donovan, Sr., 138, Richland Center wrestling
Donovan (23–1) placed second at 138 pounds at last Saturday's WIAA D2 State Wrestling Tournament after suffering his first loss of the season in the title match to Wrightstown senior Kaiden Klotz (18–1).
Cal Dorota, Jr., 182 pounds, Iowa–Grant/Highland wrestling
Dorota (20–1) capped his junior season with a second-place finish in 182 pounds at the WIAA D3 Individual Wrestling State Tournament last Saturday at Wausau East High School. Dorota suffered a 3–1 loss to Mineral Point senior Mason Hughes (13–2, #2 ranked) in the championship match.
Rhett Koenig, So., 113 pounds, and Braeden Saint, Sr., 170, Prairie du Chien wrestling
Koenig (19–1) won the Division 2 113 pound title with a 4:00 pin of Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyall sophomore Luke Dux at Saturday's WIAA Division 2 Individual State Wrestling Tournament at Adams–Friendship High School. Saint (17–1) placed second at 170 pounds after suffering his only loss of the season in the finals to fellow unbeaten senior Jared Stricker (17–0) of Ashland.
Lily Krahn, Jr., Prairie du Chien basketball
Krahn scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Blackhawks (17–2) to a dominating 52–32 victory over No. 2 seed New Glarus in Saturday's WIAA Division 3 regional final at PdC High School. Krahn also had a season-high 30 points on 11 of 16 shooting, including 6 of 10 from the 3-point arc, to go along with four steals and two assists in a 63–40 regional semifinal victory over Lancaster last Friday night. Krahn and the Blackhawks will host Lake Mills (21–2) in a D3 sectional semifinal tonights (Thursday) at 7 p.m.
Mallory Lindsey, Jr., Mineral Point girls basketball
Lindsey made 6 of 13 3-point attempts and 5 of 6 free throws, and finished with a game-high 24 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in Mineral Point's 60–41 victory over No. 2 seeded Potosi/Cassville (12–8) in last Saturday night's WIAA Division 4 regional final at MPHS. Lindsey also had 15 points, five rebounds and five steals in Friday's 52–42 regional semifinal victory over Darlington. The SWAL champion Pointers (14–5) will host Waterloo (11–14) in a D4 sectional semifinal tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m.
Brynlee Nelson, Sr., Fennimore girls basketball
Nelson scored a game-high 21 points on 9 of 16 shooting, and had two assists and two steals to lead the Golden Eagles 14–7 to a 54–38 victory over SWAL rival Riverdale in last Saturday's WIAA Division 4 regional finals. It was the 12th straight victory for the Fennimore girls and their first regional championship since 2012. She also posted 16 points, eight steals, five rebounds and five assists in Friday night's 56–25 regional semifinal victory over Boscobel. Nelson and the Eagles will now face Kenosha St. Joseph's in a D4 sectional semifinal tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m.
Nolan Springer, Sr., 170, and Mason Hughes, 182, Mineral Point wrestling
Springer (14–0), a Division 1 Bucknell recruit, capped a perfect senior season with 20–5 technical fall over Random Lake junior Samuel Schwabe (19–2) to win the WIAA D3 170-pound state title Saturday night. Classmate Mason Hughes (13–2) joined Springer as an individual champion when he upset top-ranked Cal Dorota (20–1) of Iowa–Grant/Highland in the 182-pound championship match, 3–1. Hughes only two losses of the season were to Dorota the previous two weeks at regionals and sectionals.