BOSCOBEL - The loss of the spring athletic season not only affects the seniors, who were unable to cap off their high school careers with one last fling as a Bulldog, the loss will have a ripple effect on all three spring athletic programs. Freshmen were unable to get their first experience of much longer seasons and the more intense competition of high school. In addition, they lost instruction and supervised practice of important fundamental skills that begin to be refined at the high school level. Sophomores miss a key season of transferring those fundamentals learned as freshmen to reactions in competition, and perhaps begin to push older athletes for varsity positions. All underclassmen begin to learn that their roles as single grade competitors may now change as classes blend to form teams, increasing the competition for playing time, but hopefully, forming bonds among teammates. Juniors were unable to compete for, or assume greater roles at the varsity level and miss a key season of experience in competition. For many seniors, that final season may be one in which they are asked to assume greater responsibilities as leaders or take on new roles to replace those held by the previous year’s seniors.
Finally, for a spring senior athlete, there comes that recognition that “this is it”, that one’s time as a high school student/athlete has come to an end. There is no replacing those experiences as a student/athlete, and although in the scheme of life they are only a portion of one’s high school career, for many, they are an important element that provides many lasting memories and lessons.
Track and Field
The track and field season actually got underway prior to closing of schools. New varsity track and field coach Matthew Fritz and his staff had gotten a week of practice in and were looking ahead to a promising season for both the boys and girls. Fritz, in his first season as a head coach had a veteran group of assistants joining him in volunteer distance coaches Skyler and Grant Reynolds, shot and discus coach Robert Harry, volunteers Clark Jillson who works with mid-distance runners, and hurdlers and Joel Leonard, who works with long and triple jumpers. District Administrator Greg Bell coaches pole-vaulters and helps coordinate the relay teams, along with providing experienced guidance.
Both teams were returning solid performers from last season. The boys lost one SWAL Conference champion in pole-vaulter Dakota Frazier, but were returning a number of SWAL Conference Champion performers in 400 meter champ, senior Brennan Carlin and all of the members of a pair of SWAL best relay teams. The 4 x 400 relay team would have returned three seniors, Michael Wiegel, Mitch Davis, and Carlin, along junior Evan Belz. The 4 x 800 team also anticipated the return of seniors Davis, David Eaton, junior Evan Belz and sophomores Ben Bohringer and Parker Steele. The girls would have returned their entire SWAL Champion 4 x 400 relay team with senior Grace Glasbrenner, junior Ellie Jillson, and sophomores Abri Brown and Maddie Fritz. That group finished fourth at the State Track Meet in La Crosse last spring in the 4 x 800. In addition, Jillson set a school record last season in the 400 meter dash with a time of 59.69 seconds, and finished fourth individually at State in the 400 meter.
The boys team was returning several letter winners to what coaches considered a deep team. That group featured seniors Brennan Carlin, Mitch Davis, Daryen Heisz, Darius Jacobus, David Eaton, Cooper Rounds, and Michael Wiegel. Juniors Amari Asamoah, Nathan Beck, Evan Belz, Travis Denner, and Blake Sanders were all poised to offer significant contributions. Sophomores Ben Bohnringer, Levi Glasbrenner, Brady Smith, and Parker Steele all were coming off strong freshman campaigns. In addition to that experienced core, freshmen TJ Bell, Carter Brown, Brady Hammell, Ethan McCollugh, and John O’Neil were preparing enter the mix.
The girls team would be young with just two returning letter winners in Grace Glasbrenner and Shawna Newton. They would have led a group of underclassmen who earned letters last year in juniors Randa Bell, Britney Glasbrenner, and Ellie Jillson, along with sophomores Abri Brown, Avery Brown, Allie Cornell, Maddie Fritz and Tessa Riley. Hoping to contribute as freshman were Autumn Bailey, Trinity Bielfeldt, Sydney Bristley, Kira Brownlee, Skyler and Easton Carlin, Teah Ward.
Fritz was pleased with the first week of practice, believing both groups were working hard and could have developed into teams that may have been able to compete for conference championships.
The Lady Bulldogs softball team was hoping to improve upon a difficult initial season under new head coach Clare Waltz-U’Ren. In her first season, Waltz-U’Ren inherited a largely inexperienced team in 2018-19 following the graduation of nearly the entire middle of the field defensively and largely the top of the lineup. Gone were pitcher Olivia Grassel, catcher Emily Johnson, second baseman Rachel Yahn, and shortstop Alyssa Davis from the previous season. Those four had all been three-year starters, leaving players with little to no varsity experience to take over. With new players in new roles, the team got off to a bumpy beginning, going 1-9 in their first ten games. However, the team began to grow, closing out the year going 5-7 over the final twelve games for an overall 6-16 mark. Joining returning starters at the corners in junior first baseman Treena Knowles and senior third baseman Leah Wacker, the young players steadily improved. Izzy Manning emerged as a solid pitcher, Pearl Scallon took over admirably behind the plate, and Emma Creasy who had shared right field with classmate Ava Grassel as a freshman, took over capably at shortstop. Senior Abigail Manning, another returning starter, played both second base and the outfield. Senior McKenna Waltz-Dempsey saw action as an outfielder and DH. Ava Grassel moved to left, and Becca Yahn returned to patrol center field. Two versatile and speedy sophomores, Katlyn Seeley and Ava Trumm provided significant contributions between second base and the outfield. Trumm and Seeley split time between the varsity and JV levels, providing depth and gaining experience.
The team and coaches were looking for the experience gained by the team last season, along with the addition of some key underclassmen to translate into an improved season in 2019-2020. Rather than needing to replace four starters with inexperienced players, the team lost only two full-time starters to graduation led by four-year starter and 2018-19 First team All-Conference player Leah Wacker and three year starter, outfielder, Abigail Manning. Also lost to graduation were outfielder/DH McKenna Waltz-Dempsey and Maryanna O’Neil who was unable to play due to injuries. The returning group of players from last season would have provided a team that had gained valuable experience as entered 2019-2020. In addition, the Lady Bulldogs would have benefited from looking to another group of eight players who had gained a season of experience at the Junior Varsity level, to compete for varsity playing time. Those players were this year’s seniors Isabella and Corbin Bunck, juniors Emma Bailie, Shelby Bedward, and MaKayla Fritz, and sophomores Sarah Knowles and Clare Manning.
This year’s seniors, first baseman Treena Knowles, catcher Pearl Scallon (last season’s MVP), along with centerfielder Becca Yahn were all poised to provide leadership for a team with talent and experience. Coach Waltz-U’Ren noted that Katlyn Seeley had been working to develop as a slap hitter, hoping to capitalize on her speed. She also felt that Treena Knowles had worked hard to provide another consistent pitching option for the team. In addition she mentioned the value of having an experienced catcher in Pearl Scallon, stating, “Having a senior behind the plate is super helpful and I will especially miss Pearls leadership and ability to lighten the mood for her teammates.” Returning their entire lineup up the middle, the positions needed to replace were third base and a third outfielder. A talented and experienced group would have been available to compete for those positions as well as push last season’s starters. Having competition for starting spots is a key ingredient in developing a successful team, and this season’s team would have offered that.
Change was coming in 2019-2020 for Boscobel Baseball. Henry Bray had made the decision to step down after four seasons as the Bulldogs head coach and a new coaching staff was set to take over. Stan Grimm, a first year head coach was set assume control, along with a new assistant coach in veteran Dustin Johnson. They were inheriting a rather young group of players returning from last season’s team that had finished 6-15 overall, 1-13 SWAL in 2018-19. Lost to graduation were four players, Jayden Alderson, and three full-time starters in Jacob Bray, Dawson Marks, and Erik Ward.
Grimm was looking forward to working with a roster that included two seniors, Kolton Wallin who had earned All-SWAL Honorable Mention honors in a junior season in which he was plagued by injuries and unable to pitch, and versatile Braden Meyers. However, with low numbers, the younger players had gained some valuable experience already. Juniors Rylee Bray and Tarek Fischer had already played starting roles for two seasons, and sophomore Noah Loos had earned a starting position last season as a freshman. In addition, juniors Braeden Loomis and Gavin Miranda had gained varsity experience, as did sophomore Noah Wagner.Pitching would, as is always the case in baseball, would have been a major question coming into the 2019-2020 season. Several returning players had provided innings last season and were looking to increase their roles this season with the graduation of Erik Ward who was able to eat up important innings as a senior. Expected to fill that void were Noah Loos, Braden Myers, Rylee Bray, Tarek Fischer, Gavin Miranda, and hopefully Kolton Wallin who had experienced a great deal of success on the mound as freshman and sophomore. Wallin was unable to throw last season, and played first base most of the season in order to protect his arm. The team has a proven varsity catcher in Tarek Fischer, but would need to find a second catcher in order to use Fischer on the mound where he would at times, be needed. The team benefits from versatility, with Wallin, Myers, Bray and Loos all able to play a variety of positions when not pitching. With the high school pitching rules limiting time on the mound based upon a pitch count, several players need to toe the rubber. With a small roster, that means players must often switch positions to cover for a pitcher vacating a fielding spot. Grimm and Johnson were hopeful to see an increase in players coming out for baseball, making player rotation easier as well as increasing the amount of competition for playing time. However they had held justone pre-season meeting and were still recruiting to build up the roster when COVID-19 ended preparations for the season.