The 2016-17 winter sports season was an incredible season across the area. Athletes all across Antelope, Boone, Knox and Holt counties put on a show week in and week out on their way to various records, state finishes and incredible performances.
With that, we are proud to announce the 2016-17 Local County News All-Area Teams for winter sports. 25 of the top girls and boys basketball players, as well as 22 of the top wrestlers proved themselves as elite among their peers each week.
It’s never easy narrowing down so many athletes to such a small list but thanks to some help from area coaches, everyone on these lists are deserving of the accolades they have received.
Holt County was not lacking in talented athletes on the court for the girls as eight athletes made the cut for the team.
Payton Birkel, Jr., O'Neill: Birkel was the most consistent player for the Eagles all year. She finished the year with a team-high 11 points per game to go along with her two steals per game.
Hattie Blumenstock, Sr., St. Mary's: Blumenstock wrapped up a fantastic career this year by leading St. Mary's to yet another state tournament bid. She finished the year with a team-high 13.7 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Taylor Colman, Sr., St. Mary's: The Cardinals had a three-headed monster leading their potent offense and Colman was the one at the trigger. She dished out 3.3 assists per game to go along with her 10.2 points per game.
Logan Connot, Sr., St. Mary's: Connot was as consistent as anyone in the area all year. She gave the Cardinals a strong 1-2 punch in the post, putting up 10.9 points per game and 7.1 assists per game.
Harlee Fischer, Sr., Stuart: Fischer used her strong athleticism to do anything the Broncos needed. She led the way with 19.7 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game and three steals per game.
Jacie Laetsch, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: Laetsch was one of the most potent scorers in the area, putting up an impressive 20 points per game. She also pulled down 5.6 rebounds per game, 3.2 steals per game and four assists per game.
Taylor Peter, Fr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: The freshman had little trouble working the post for the Renegades. She nearly averaged a double-double, scoring 9.8 points per game and bringing in 9.5 rebounds per game.
Alison Stracke, Sr., Stuart: Stracke was one of the better playmakers in the area. She dished out an incredible four assists per game to set up the Bronco offense.
On the boys side of things, eight talented athletes graced the courts for Holt County teams in 2016-17.
Justin Appleby, Jr., O'Neill: Appleby was one of the more electric playmakers in the state this season. He finished the year with 12 points per game and 4.5 assists per game.
Mason Hale, Jr., West Holt: West Holt was one of the better teams in the Niobrara Valley Conference and Hale was a major reason why. He was deadly from deep, setting the school record for 3s in a season with 78 and tying the single-game record for 3s with seven.
Bryce Kerkman, Jr., West Holt: The second half of the talented guard duo for the Huskies, Kerkman tied Hale's single-game 3-point record with seven made. He also set the school record for 3-point percentage at 43 percent.
Daniel Libolt, Jr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: Libolt was the prototypical guard for the Renegades in 2016-17. Not only did he score 13 points a night, he added 4.3 assists per game and came away with 2.5 steals per game.
Tyler Regan, Sr., O'Neill: The 6-6 Regan was a terror in the post for opponents of the Eagles. He put up 13 points per game while pulling down seven rebounds per game as well.
Ethan Sattler, So., Stuart: Stuart was young this year on the court, but you couldn't tell by watching Sattler. The unselfish player was one of the top assist mans in the area with 4.2 assists per game while adding 5.9 points per game.
Isaac Steinhauser, So., Stuart: Steinhauser did the damage for the Broncos in the middle. The young post player put up 12.6 points per game and pulled in 8.6 rebounds per game.
Alex Thramer, So., O'Neill: Thramer was one of the leaders for an immensely talented O'Neill squad. He not only scored 10 points per game, he added seven rebounds per game and dished out four assists per game.
On the mat, nine wrestlers represented three incredible teams from Holt County.
Jared Atkeson, Jr., St. Mary's: Atkeson was impressive for a small Cardinals squad, posting a 45-4 record while finishing third at the state meet.
Will Atkeson, Sr., St. Mary's: Finishing at 42-8 on the year, the senior wrapped up a strong career for St. Mary's with a sixth-place finish at state.
Jade Buss, So., West Holt: Finishing just 18-18 on the season, Buss was at his best when it mattered the most, making his way to state and finishing sixth.
Jason Hahlbeck, Sr., O'Neill: While Hahlbeck was no stranger to winning on the mat, this year was particularly impressive. He didn't take a single loss all year, finishing 42-0 and taking home a state championship.
Jake Judge, Sr., West Holt: Judge was the talk of the state tournament and that overshadowed his impressive senior campaign. The bronze medalist this year, Judge finished the season at 37-9.
Breydon Mlady, Sr., West Holt: West Holt was impressive on the mat all year, and Mlady was a big reason for it. The senior earned his 100th-career win en route to a 38-4 season and fifth-place finish at state.
Caden Moore, Jr., O'Neill: Moore was a very impressive wrestler for a very impressive O'Neill team. He finished with just two losses compared to 41 wins while taking third at the state meet.
Cauy Shaw, Jr., O'Neill: Shaw was yet another impressive grappler for O'Neill, finishing 33-7 and taking fourth at state.
Bailey Thompson, Sr., O'Neill: Thompson gave O'Neill a second state champion in February's state meet after finishing 36-4 on the year.
Complete All-Area Lists
The full all-area list, including athletes from Holt, Boone and Knox counties, is below, listed alphabetically:
Monica Arens, Sr., Crofton: 19.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG
Payton Birkel, Jr., O’Neill: 11 PPG, 2 SPG
Kalie Bloom, Sr., Riverside: 9.8 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.8 SPG
Hattie Blumenstock, Sr., St. Mary’s: 13.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG
Amber Bruegman, Sr., Bloomfield: 8 PPG, 3 SPG
Sarah Castaneda, Sr., Bloomfield: 19.4 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Taylor Colman, Sr., St. Mary’s: 10.2 PPG, 3.3 APG
Logan Connot, Sr., St. Mary’s: 10.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG
Harlee Fischer, Sr., Stuart: 19.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3 SPG
Lauren Hedlund, Fr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: 9.1 PPG, 6 RPG, 2.1 APG
Tessa Hedlund, Sr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: 10.4 PPG, 2.3 APG
Kinsley Klabenes, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale: 9.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 SPG
Emily Knust, Jr., Niobrara/Verdigre: 9.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG
Jacie Laetsch, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: 20 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.2 SPG, 4 APG
Kinzly Macke, Sr., Clearwater-Orchard: 13 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.7 SPG
Amber Miller, So., Elkhorn Valley: 10.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.8 SPG
Hannah Ollendick, So., Elkhorn Valley: 13.6 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.8 SPG
Taylor Peter, Fr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: 9.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG
Stevie Peters, Jr., Santee: 19.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.4 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Kelsey Sanger, Sr., Crofton: 19.1 PPG, 5 RPG, 4.7 APG, 3.9 SPG
Liz Selting, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: 8.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.2 SPG
Alison Stracke, Sr., Stuart: 4 PPG, 4 APG
Kylie Thiele, Sr., Clearwater-Orchard: 6.8 PPG, 2.4 SPG
Allyson Wemhoff, So., Elgin Public/Pope John: 11.9 PPG, 2.2 APG, 2.9 SPG
Baylee Wemhoff, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: 9.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.5 SPG
Justin Appleby, Jr., O’Neill: 12 PPG, 4.5 APG
Tyson Belitz, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale: 19.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.2 SPG
Ricky Bickerstaff, Jr., Niobrara/Verdigre: 14.3 PPG, 4 APG, 2.5 SPG
Joseph Bloom, So., Riverside: 7.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG
Chad Bode, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: 11.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG
Cole Bruns, Sr., Bloomfield: 13.1 PPG, 6 RPG
Kalen Dittrich, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: 10.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG
Brayden Effle, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: 8.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3 APG
Mason Hale, Jr., West Holt: School record for 3s in a season, 78, and game, 7.
Alex Kerkman, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale: 11.7 PPG, 1.4 SPG
Bryce Kerkman, Jr., West Holt: School record for 3-point percentage, 43, and 3s in a game, 7.
Travis Kerkman, Sr., Clearwater-Orchard: 10.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1 BPG
Daniel Libolt, Jr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: 13 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.5 SPG
Jonah Micek, Sr., St. Edward: 19.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2 BPG, 3 APG
Dylan Potts, Sr., Crofton: 12.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG
Tredyn Prososki, Fr., Riverside: 19.6 PPG, state leader in 3s made
Tyler Regan, Sr., O’Neill: 13 PPG, 7 RPG
Ethan Sattler, So., Stuart: 5.9 PPG, 4.2 APG
Isaac Steinhauser, So., Stuart: 12.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG
Jessie Sullivan, Jr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: 13.8 PPG, 7 RPG
Christian Swally, Jr., Niobrara/Verdigre: 10.6 PPG, 3.6 APG
Alex Thramer, Jr., O’Neill: 10 PPG, 7 RPG, 4 APG
Noah Valasek, Sr., Riverside: 21.6 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 3.2 SPG
Grant White, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale: 18.1 PPG, 2.4 SPG, 2nd in state in 3s made
Grant Wragge, Sr., Crofton: 12.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2 SPG
Jared Atkeson, Jr., St. Mary’s: 45-4, 3rd at state
Will Atkeson, Sr., St. Mary’s: 42-8, 6th at state
Jade Buss, So., West Holt: 18-18, 6th at state
Jason Hahlbeck, Sr., O’Neill: 42-0, 1st at state
Connor Hazen, Sr., Creighton: 24-4, 6th at state
Zac Hazen, Sr., Creighton: 30-7, 4th at state
Andrew Herley, So., Neligh-Oakdale: 40-8, 2nd at state
Jaden Janssen, Jr., Crofton/Bloomfield: 40-11, 4th at state
Jake Judge, Sr., West Holt: 37-9, 3rd at state
Clay Konopasek, Sr., Niobrara/Verdigre: 31-15, 6th at state
Alejandro Martinez, Sr., Elkhorn Valley: 36-3, 3rd at state
Josh McFarland, So., Elkhorn Valley: 44-15, 4th at state
Breydon Mlady, Sr., West Holt: 38-4, 5th at state
Caden Moore, Jr., O’Neill: 41-2, 3rd at state
Cauy Shaw, Jr., O’Neill: 33-7, 4th at state
Darren Stewart, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: 29-8, 4th at state
Dillon Stewart, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: 40-1, 1st at state
Clay Thiele, So., Clearwater-Orchard: 34-17, state qualifier
Bailey Thompson, Sr., O’Neill: 36-4, 1st at state
Cameron Wilkinson, So., Neligh-Oakdale: 44-5, 4th at state
Derek Wortman, So., Creighton: 34-16, 6th at state
Bryce Zimmerer, So., Creighton: 38-11, 5th at state
Honorable Mention, girls basketball
Clearwater-Orchard - Allison Kerkman
Wausa - Mary Johnson, Krissy Kumm
Boone Central/Newman Grove - Jenna Kramer
O’Neill - Samantha Eichelberger, Caleigh Miles, Makayla Pardun
West Holt - Baily Kraus
Elgin Public/Pope John - Jordan Mescher, Lydia Behnk
Elkhorn Valley - Alyssa Rood
Santee - Hannah Sheridan, Kiana Torrez
Crofton - Haley Arens, Josie Sanger, Alexis Arens
Neligh-Oakdale - Jayda Chance, Alexis Jensen
Riverside - Morgan Haschke
Stuart - Trisha Fox
Niobrara/Verdigre - Shania RedOwl, Jace Forker
Honorable Mention, boys basketball
Stuart - Connor Jarman
O’Neill - Jake Young
Chambers/Wheeler Central - Connor Croxen, Zane Patrick, Logan Pelster
Clearwater-Orchard - Jacob Long, Blake Hoke, Ryan Wilhelm
Ewing - Bryce Summers
Elgin Public/Pope John - Ashton Evans, Kenny Bush, Hunter Reestman
Riverside - Ty Martinsen
St. Mary’s Josh Cuddy
Bloomfield - Braden Eisenhauer, Wilson Wagner
Elkhorn Valley - Austin Miller
West Holt - Devon Dohrman, Shayden Neptune
Crofton - Noah McFarland
Boone Central/Newman Grove - Dylan Gentrup, Derek Stuhr