The 2016 Fall Sports Season was a thriller week in and week out. Athletes all across Antelope, Boone, Knox and Holt counties put in work on and off the field and showed up when it was game time and proved themselves as the top performers every week.
With that, we are proud to announce the inaugural Local County News All-Area Teams. 25 of the top football and volleyball players, as well as 15 of the top boy and girl cross country runners proved themselves as elite among their peers each week. It wasn’t 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.
On the football team, Boone County was represented by three incredible athletes.
Dylan Gentrup, Jr., Boone Central/Newman Grove, QB/CB: It was no secret that Gentrup was a great talent. However, no one could have predicted just how good he would be in his first season as the starting quarterback for the Cardinals. Coach Mark Hudson said Gentrup was the best player on the field every Friday and the stats agree. He finished the year with 1,111 yards passing, 13 touchdowns, 1,060 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns rushing.
Braydon Olson, Sr., St. Edward, RB/CB: A player with speed that you can't teach, Olson started the year with a 300 yard performance. That was just the start of a big season for the senior, finishing with 1,586 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns.
Noah Valasek, Sr., Riverside, QB/S: This may have been the worst-kept secret on the list. Four three years now, Valasek has been the best player on the best six-man football team in Nebraska. Despite missing the last few games due to injury, he still put up 1,008 yards passing and 25 touchdowns while adding 888 yards rushing and 22 more touchdowns.
Five Boone County volleyballers proved each game that they were among the elites.
Jenna Kramer, Sr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: Kramer was one of the top players in the area at the point of attack. She finished the season with an impressive 258 kills and 27 aces.
Grace Schalk, Jr., Riverside: A great player on a great Riverside squad, Schalk helped the Chargers to a 22-10 record this year, including handing Elgin Public/Pope John their only loss during the regular season. She finished the season with 148 kills and 56 aces.
Maddie Walkowiak, Jr., Riverside: Walkowiak proved herself to be one of the better scoring artists in the area in 2016. The scary part? She's still got one more year of high school ball to improve. She finished with 329 kills, 45 aces and 27 blocks. Not bad.
Baylee Wlaschin, Sr., Riverside: With all these Chargers scoring points, someone had to get them the ball. That was Wlaschin's job and she was outstanding at it. She finished the season with an incredible 790 assists and was a strong server as well, putting down 52 aces. There's a reason the Chargers did so good this season.
Nicole Woebbecke, Jr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: One of the more well-rounded players in Boone County, Woebbecke was capable of scoring points as well as playing strong defense. She finished the year with 143 kills, 36 aces and 200 digs.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
One of the top runners in the area was the pride of Boone Central/Newman Grove.
Thomas Hosford, Boone Central/Newman Grove: Hosford was the leader for a Boone Central/Newman Grove squad that was in need of a strong top runner. He recorded a best time of 18:43.0.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Boone County cross country fans were spoiled by some outstanding performers this year.
Amber Berger, Riverside: Berger consistently performed well in 2016. She recorded a best time of 22:37.6. She also qualified for state, posting a time of 23:14.6.
Katie Goodwater, Boone Central/Newman Grove: Boone Central/Newman Grove is used to having strong cross country teams, and this year was no different. Goodwater was one of two state qualifiers for the Cardinals, posting a time of 21:19.0. Her season best was 20:23.0.
Christina Soto-Stopak, Boone Central/Newman Grove: That other state qualifier? It was Soto-Stopak, who finished with an impressive time of 20:22.9, good enough for third in Class C. She also posted a season best time of 19:25.0.
The full all-area list, including athletes from Holt, Antelope and Knox counties, is below, listed alphabetically:
Tyson Belitz, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale, WR/LB: 780 yards receiving, 11 touchdowns, 90 tackles, three interceptions
Chris Bentley, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale, E/DE: 556 yards receiving, 14 touchdowns, 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, seven sacks
Creston Bertschinger, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard, RB/LB: 1,199 all-purpose yards, 10 total touchdowns, 84 tackles
Brady Brockhaus, Jr., Creighton, WR/DB: 494 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Tanner Crosley, Sr., Crofton, RB: 1,551 rushing yards, 23 touchdowns
Connor Croxen, Sr.,, Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing, WR/CB: 549 receiving yards, seven touchdowns, 70 tackles, eight interceptions
Josh Cuddy, Sr.,, St. Mary’s, QB/S: 632 yards passing, eight touchdowns, 897 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns, 85 tackles, four interceptions
Franklin Fessler, Sr., Stuart, RB/LB: 117 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions
Dylan Gentrup, Jr., Boone Central/Newman Grove, QB/CB: 1,111 yards passing, 13 touchdowns, 1,060 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns
Nicholas Haburchak, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing, RB/LB: 700 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns, 167 yards receiving, 128 tackles
Jason Hahlbeck, Sr., O’Neill, T/DE: 100 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, three sacks
Liam Heithoff, Jr., Elgin Public/Pope John, G/DE: 105 total tackles, 52 solo tackles (new school record)
Daniel Libolt, Jr., Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing, RB/LB: 818 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns, 341 yards receiving, seven touchdowns, 70 tackles
Josh McFarland, So., Elkhorn Valley, QB/LB: 413 yards passing, 337 yards rushing, five touchdowns, 75 tackles, three interceptions
Breydon Mlady, Sr., West Holt, RB/LB: 922 yards rushing, 16 total touchdowns
Quinten Moles, Jr., Bloomfield, QB/CB: 2,511 yards rushing, 34 touchdowns
Sam Morrill, Sr., Creighton, G/LB: 124 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries
Shayden Neptune, Jr., West Holt, WR/S: 155 tackles, six interceptions
Ryan Neumann, Sr., Creighton, QB/S: 1,344 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, 1,675 yards rushing, 33 touchdowns, two kick return touchdowns
Braydon Olson, Sr., St. Edward, RB/CB: 1,586 yards rushing, 31 touchdowns
Kevin Rudloff, Sr., Niobrara/Verdigre, RB/S: 918 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns
Alex Thramer, Jr., O’Neill, QB/LB: 1,969 yards passing, 26 touchdowns, 339 yards rushing, six touchdowns
Noah Valasek, Sr., Riverside, QB/S: 1,008 yards passing, 25 touchdowns, 888 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns
Grant White, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale, QB/S: 1,798 yards passing, 32 touchdowns, 266 yards rushing, five touchdowns
Bryce Zimmerer, So., Creighton, RB/CB: 1,488 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns, 223 receiving yards, four touchdowns
Kirsten Adams, So., Creighton: 166 kills, 105 blocks
Monica Arens, Sr., Crofton: 360 kills, 79 blocks
Hattie Blumenstock, Sr., St. Mary’s: 239 kills, 122 total blocks
Peyton Clifton, Sr., Clearwater-Orchard: 128 digs, 357 assists, 46 aces
Taylor Colman, Sr., St. Mary’s: 885 assists, 212 digs
Logan Connot, Sr., St. Mary’s: 239 kills, 125 total blocks
Regan Dierks, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: 265 kills, 50 aces, 83 blocks, 142 digs
Harlee Fischer, Sr., Stuart: 320 kills, 330 digs
Nikki Grosserode, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale: 148 kills, 29 aces, 189 digs
JoCee Johnston, So., Clearwater-Orchard: 253 kills, 88 blocks, 31 aces
Jenna Kramer, Sr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: 258 kills, 27 aces
Bailey Kraus, Jr., West Holt: 143 kills, 73 blocks, 203 digs
Jacie Laetsch, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central: 467 kills, 76 aces, 62 blocks, 273 digs
Jordan Mescher, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: 268 digs, 92 percent serving
Amber Miller, So., Elkhorn Valley: 70 aces (new school record), 285 digs, 300 assists
Amy Nelson, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: 203 kills, 70 blocks
Alyssa Rood, Sr., Elkhorn Valley: 285 digs, 36 aces, 113 kills
Kelsey Sanger, Sr., Crofton: 308 kills, 77 aces, 59 blocks, 437 digs
Grace Schalk, Jr., Riverside: 148 kills, 56 aces
Liz Selting, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: 324 kills, 105 digs, 42 blocks
Alison Stracke, Sr., Stuart: 70 aces, 598 assists, 226 digs
Chase Vleck, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale: 224 kills, 37 aces, 195 digs
Maddie Walkowiak, Jr., Riverside: 329 kills, 45 aces, 27 blocks
Baylee Wlaschin, Sr., Riverside: 790 assists, 52 aces
Nicole Woebecke, Jr., Boone Central/Newman Grove: 143 kills, 36 aces, 200 digs
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Tanner Arens, Crofton: Best time of 18:18.78, State time of 18:18.78
Cole Belitz, Neligh-Oakdale: Best time of 17:36
Braydon Effle, Elkhorn Valley: Best time of 19:05.0
Thomas Hosford, Boone Central/Newman Grove: Best time of 18:43.0
Garrison Hazen, Creighton: Best time of 17:48.0. State time of 18:03.6
Zac Hazen, Creighton: Best time of 18:48.8. State time of 19:44.8
Brandon Heller, West Holt: Best time of 18:49.7. State time of 19:00.9
Tyler Janssen, Crofton: Best time of 18:06.33. State time of 18:33.78
Nathaniel Jennings, O’Neill: Best time of 17:32.0. State time of 19:04.1
Derek Mahony, Chambers/Wheeler Central: Best time of 19:03.0
Austin Miller, Elkhorn Valley: Best time of 18:04.0. State time of 18:37.4
Caden Moore, O’Neill: Best time of 17:41.0. State time of 19:28.2
Jake Neuhalfen, Crofton: Best time of 17:02.4. State time of 17:03.72
McCoy Strong, O’Neill: Best time of 17:21.0. State time of 18:43.7
Ben Thiele, West Holt: Best time of 18:02.2. State time of 18:02.2
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Haley Arens, Crofton: Best time of 19:35.0. State time of 19:35.0
Amber Berger, Riverside: Best time of 22:37.6. State time of 23:14.6
Mariah Dendinger, Crofton: Best time of 22:59.0. State time of 22:59.0
Kira Dickau, Stuart: Best time of 21:05.9. State time of 21:05.9
Bree Eisenhauer, Bloomfield/Wausa: Best time of 20:47.2. State time of 20:47.2
Katie Goodwater, Boone Central/Newman Grove: Best time of 20:23.0. State time of 21:19.0
Kasi Grosserode, Neligh-Oakdale: Best time of 23:10.0
Jessica Lange, Crofton: Best time of 23:14.0. State time of 23:14.0
Taya Rainforth, O’Neill: Best time of 22:40.0
Alyssa Reiman, West Holt: Best time of 22:14.9. State time of 22:24.3
Christina Soto-Stopak, Boone Central/Newman Grove: Best time of 19:25.0. State time of 20:22.9
Alison Stineman, Elkhorn Valley: Best time of 19:20.0. State time of 21:24.1
Whitney Watson, O’Neill: Best time of 20:50.0. State time of 22:02.1
Ann Woockman, Bloomfield/Wausa: Best time of 22:02.48. State time of 23:13.3
Krista Zavadil, Crofton: Best time of 22:12.9. State time of 22:12.9
HONORABLE MENTION, FOOTBALL
St. Mary's - Will Atkeson, Pete Blumenstock, Zac Wiese
Wausa - Ghatlin Hegge
Clearwater-Orchard - Travis Kerkman
Boone Central/Newman Grove - Dalton Wagner, Cody Nelson, Levi Kruger
O'Neill - Bailey Thompson, Wyatt Liewer, Justin Appleby, Jake Young
West Holt - Jake Judge
Elgin Public/Pope John - Chad Bode, Miles Schrage
Elkhorn Valley - Shawn Klinetobe, Dylan Wilkins
Creighton - Travis Tyler
Crofton - Grant Wragge, Dylan Potts
Bloomfield - Luke Fehringer
Neligh-Oakdale - Damon Arehart, Pepper Marchant
Riverside - Ty Martinsen, Tredyn Prososki, Trey Carraher
St. Edward - Keenan Rasumussen, Jonah Micek
Chambers/Wheeler Central - Carter Croxen, Zane Patrick, Ross Gribble
HONORABLE MENTION, VOLLEYBALL
Stuart - Rachel Kaup
O'Neill - Payton Birkel
Clearwater-Orchard - Kylie Thiele, Kinzly Macke
Ewing - Miranda Summer, Bailey Schindler, Ashley Koenig, Jodi Fry
Elgin Public/Pope John - Baylee Wemhoff, Grace Henn, Paige Meis, Nicki Payne
Riverside - Morgan Haschke
Bloomfield - Leah Poppe, Brandi Guenther