With volleyball season now in the books and football season wrapping up next week, many athletes are looking toward winter sports. Some athletes, however, may have decided not to do a winter sport or are unsure whether they should.
I’m here with a public service announcement. Do every sport you can.
There are a few reasons to consider doing multiple sports. First and foremost, it simply keeps you active and healthier. Your body is up and moving and you are getting plenty of exercise during practice. I know right now, going to town on a cheeseburger and soda doesn’t seem to affect you all that much, but trust me, exercising every day is a good habit to get in to for when you aren’t able to practice anymore.
Now, moving away from the old man speech, another important reason is the fact that sports compliment each other. In football, explosiveness, power and hand- eye coordination are important athletic components. Basketball and wrestling are the two perfect sports to improve those components.
For example, in basketball, there is likely no attribute more important to a player than hand- eye coordination. Oddly enough, the same can be said for a receiver in football. If a football player is unable to see where the ball is going to be or is unable to get his hands to that proper spot, he’s probably not going to see the field too often. For a basketball player, coordination is so important as the athlete needs to be able to work his or her way through defenders while controlling the ball and finding the open man for a shot.
In wrestling, explosiveness and power go hand-in-hand. If a wrestler is unable to explode into a takedown, they’ll struggle to find any success. If they don’t have the power to overmatch their opponent on that takedown, they’ll end up on the wrong side of the match.
Another reason to be a multi- sport athlete is for the athlete’s health. A recent study done by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that athletes that specialize in a single sport are nearly twice as likely to sustain a lower-body injury while participating in sports than multi- sport athletes. The most common injuries were to the joints of the leg, the ankle and knee.
While they did find that a good number of the injuries happened in season, the part that stood out about this study to me the most was that specialized athletes were twice as likely to sustain gradual onset and repetitive use injuries than multi-sport athletes. That means that athletes that choose not to participate in sports throughout the year actually are at a higher risk to have lingering injuries to the knees and ankles, the two types of injuries that seem to end more careers than any other.
While I can understand the argument for playing in a single sport, at least in the case of an athlete with college or professional potential, it is important for athletes to keep themselves active throughout the year. Playing in multiple sports gives them an opportunity to work various attributes for their favorite sport at a high rate throughout the year. It also helps them avoid debilitating injuries to the knees and ankles that can harm them well into their adult lives.
Bottom line: Kids, play basketball or go out for wrestling. Your body will appreciate it.
If you are like me and really can’t do either Winter sport, at least do yourself a favor and hit the weights. Don’t let your body get lazy for a full season. It not only puts you behind when the next season comes around, but its a missed opportunity. The area is full of excellent facilities at the schools and in the communities. If you choose not to use them, you are hurting your development and your chances at playing time.
Then there were four.
After a long and exciting volleyball season, we are now to the final week of competition. In my coverage area, we have four squads that earned the trip to Lincoln to continue their quest for a state title.
Crofton, Elgin Public/Pope John, St. Mary’s and Chambers/Wheeler Central proved themselves each and every week this year as some of the top teams in the state. These four teams have combined for 98 wins on the season. They have all dominated the competition on a regular basis and have rebounded from unexpected upsets. Now, they take on the best the state has to offer.
Crofton was one team that surprised no one by their performance throughout the year after having qualified for state the past three years. They boast one of the most well-rounded teams in C2. Senior Monica Arens led the Warriors’ attack at the net throughout the year, racking up 343 kills. Fellow senior Kelsey Sanger was not only second on the team with 288 kills, put she proved herself as one of the top servers in the tournament after recording 72 aces on the year. Madison Johnson helped the offense run smoothly each and every week, recording 732 assists. Josie Sanger, the team’s libero, was all over the court all season, pulling up 425 digs. Those four will lead a confident Crofton squad into a first-round showdown with Hasting St. Cecilia on Thursday.
EPPJ had one of the best regular seasons of any team in Nebraska, finishing at 24-1 before stumbling to a 2-3 combined record in the conference and district tournaments. They proved each night that few teams had as much power as the Wolfpack, as they had four girls that would be any other team’s top hitter. Liz Selting and Amy Nelson regularly showed their strength at the net, putting down 324 and 203 kills, respectively. Grace Henn and Paige Meis worked as compliments to their senior companions all year, combining for another 312 kills. With so many strong hitters, it took a combination of Baylee and Allyson Wemhoff along with Nicki Payne to distribute the wealth, totaling 789 assists between the three. This deep Wolfpack team has a great chance to be playing on the final day of the tournament, but they must first get back to their winning ways in a first-round game with Ansley-Litchfield.
St. Mary’s is as decorated as anyone in this year’s field, having won two state championships and one runner-up in the past four years. They intend to add to that list in their fifth-straight appearance. They are led by an outstanding and experienced senior class. Logan Connot and Hattie Blumenstock recorded 229 and 228 kills, respectively, this season. Hailey Eiler and Breanna Hedstrom each recorded at least 130 kills as well. Fellow senior Taylor Colman was an expert at distributing the ball to her talented hitters, recording 845 assists. Sophomore Brianna Bauer leads the team with 50 aces. The Cardinals start their journey to another title Thursday when they take on Wynot in a rematch of the district finals. St. Mary’s won that match in straight sets, by the way.
Chambers/Wheeler Central may have been St. Mary’s biggest thorn all season, taking on the Cardinals in three separate thrilling matches, winning one and sending the other two to five sets. They are led by a senior who, in my opinion, is the best all-around player in the area. Jacie Laetsch is not an overwhelming presence, being listed at 5’7”, but she plays at the net like a six-footer and scores with authority. She leads the team in kills (409), aces (69) and digs (245). However, she is far from the only talent on a strong Renegade squad. Regan Dierks recorded 239 kills this year. Daneecia Thorin accounted for 50 aces. Jordan Laetsch, Jacie’s younger sister, recorded 176 digs. Freshman Taylor Peter was fantastic in her first season, recording 571 assists. The Renegades use their players all over the floor and will need to be at their best as they start their journey to their first state title as the Renegades when they take on 31-1 Potter-Dix in the opening round.
Whether we like it or not, football season is slowly nearing the end. However, the silver lining behind that cloud is that means that it is now time for the National Basketball Association to get back in to the spotlight.
I admittedly am not a very dedicated viewer, as I usually just try to pay attention to the game scores and playoff races. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good game though.
The thing I love most about basketball is that you can find arguably the best athletes in the world on the court in any given night. While football, volleyball and baseball players are all great athletes in their own rite, basketball players are the embodiment of what a truly gifted athlete is. They combine speed, explosiveness, hand-eye coordination and vision to score at an incredible rate.
Take Lebron James for example. I know most people are probably sick of hearing about him, but the truth is, he is the best all-around player since Michael Jordan retired for the last time.
The man is every bit of 6’8” and weighs in at around 250 pounds. That is five inches and 10 pounds heavier than the average NFL tight end. Yet, even at the immense size, he has been rumored to run a 4.6 second forty-yard dash. That is an average of .17 seconds faster than that average NFL tight end. Combine that with his 40-plus inch vertical leap and an uncanny passing ability, he is the best-of-the-best when it comes to these great athletes.
Not a LeBron fan? How about we take a look at the likable Tim Duncan. Duncan recently retired as one of the best players in San Antonio Spurs history and is a likely first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. He also was a swimming champion with aspirations of making the United States Olympic squad. At 6’11”. If it weren’t for a hurricane taking out the only Olympic-sized pool he had access to, he likely would have completed his goal and never become the great basketball player he is now known for. He was so great of an athlete, he could have been world-class in either sport.
Even less popular players such as John Wall, Derrick Rose, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook and even Nate Robinson can all stake claims to being among the most explosive and strongest athletes in the world.
They also show incredible endurance, playing at a pace much greater than football for 66 more regular season games than the NFL players do. Granted, the NFL has much harder physical collisions that make it necessary for the league to limit the season to just 16 games, but playing 82 games over five months can take a toll on a player as well.
I know I said earlier that I don’t watch games religiously like I do with the NFL, but I still have my team. Growing up in the Michael Jordan era with a best friend that was a Chicago native, the Chicago Bulls had no trouble finding my heart. Now they have one of my favorite players, Dwayne Wade, and are looking as good - so far - as they’ve been since Derrick Rose’s early years. The key to their season will be whether or not Wade can make it through a season without knee trouble and if Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler can coexist for 82 games.
However, I think you still have to accept that the likely finals match up will be a rematch of last year’s Cleveland - Golden State showdown. The Warriors don’t have the same strong bench play as they did last year, but when you have a starting lineup that is averaging a combined 83 points per game for their career, you may not need a great scorer off the bench. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, made very few changes after last year’s championship season. They will be in the thick of it until the end.
I tell you what, the 2016 football season went by way too fast. We saw some incredible performances throughout the year, starting with Neligh-Oakdale’s surprisingly dominant win over Creighton to open the season and ending with Clearwater-Orchard’s attempted upset bid of Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing, a game that was tied at 28 going into the final quarter.
Now, the games are about to get a bit more exciting. With the announcement of the 2016 playoff field Saturday morning, we learned that there are eight Holt, Antelope, Knox or Boone County teams with a shot at the title yet. Some notable teams were left out, such as Boone Central/Newman Grove. It really is too bad that Neligh-Oakdale wasn’t able to play either, because to be honest a potential final of the Warriors versus CWCE would likely have gone down as the game of the year.
Anyway, lets focus on the eight who are in, starting with C1.
Undefeated O’Neill takes on Columbus Lakeview in a rematch of an early season game that the Eagles won 36-14, giving up their first points of the season. Should the Eagles win - I predict they do - they dive into a section of the bracket that includes Norfolk Catholic, Aquinas Catholic, Boys Town and Arlington. That is a tough draw. If they make it through that to the championship game, it’ll be on the strength of their solid defense and the arm of talented junior quarterback Alex Thramer.
In C2, Crofton represents Knox County as the seventh seed when they take on Central City. Crofton is one of the better running teams in the area, led by Tanner Crosley, but they will have to contend with a strong Central City front that includes potential division one player Jordan Paup. It won’t be easy, but they should move on to the next round, likely to take on a tough Valentine squad.
The D1 field is littered with local teams, led by the second seed, Creighton. The Bulldogs draw a matchup with Diller-Odell, a game they should win handily, much like they have all year. Likely their biggest obstacle to making the state championship would be a semifinal showdown with top-seeded Guardian Angel CC, Clearwater-Orchard’s first round opponent. The Cyclones, despite the string of losses, have been playing some of their best ball the past few weeks against highly ranked playoff teams. An upset isn’t out of the picture, but it will take a perfect game from Chris Kester and crew.
CWCE draws a first round match with 3-5 Sutherland. I have heard rumors that the Renegades may be without their do-everything stud Daniel Libolt, but the Croxens are a dominant duo that should dominate the game for the Renegades. Their potential second round opponent, West Holt, has one of the longest journeys of anyone in the playoffs when they head to Dundy County-Stratton in a battle of 5-3 teams. The drive will play a factor. If Mason Hale and company can continue to play as well as they have the past couple of weeks, they should be making a long trip home with a win.
Finally, in D2, Bloomfield has been on an absolute tear since a week one loss to Wynot. They take on Exeter-Milligan. Quentin Moles has played as well as anyone in the state this year, and I don’t expect the Timberwolves to be able to contain him any better than anyone else. If all goes well, there is a small chance they could get revenge on Wynot for a shot at the finals. St. Mary’s is on the other side of the bracket, taking on Eustis-Farnam. Both teams know how to get the ground game going. For St. Mary’s that starts with quarterback Josh Cuddy, who has a tendency to take over a game when the Cardinals need him the most. Expect that to happen against the Knights. They should win and make a deep run in the bracket.
For our volleyball Game of the Week, we'll be traveling to Bloomfield for the Knox County Tournament. Niobrara/Verdigre, Crofton, Creighton, Bloomfield, Santee and Wausa will all take the court looking to prove themselves as the top team in Knox County.
Why is this the Game of the Week? With the season winding down, we already have a very good idea of what each team is capable of. Creighton and Crofton come in as two of the top teams in the area, while Niobrara/Verdigre, Santee, Bloomfield and Wausa all have struggled in recent weeks. However, this tournament gives teams a chance for bragging rights against their neighbors, so expect an upset or two.
Who is going to be there? Wausa (3-14), Bloomfield (1-16), Crofton (15-4), Creighton (11-4), Niobrara/Verdigre (4-16), Santee (1-19)
Players to watch: Bloomfield - Leah Poppe, Senior, Leads team in kills, aces, blocks and digs
Crofton - Kelsey Sanger, Senior, 194 kills, 52 aces, 41 blocks, 285 digs
Creighton - Kirsten Adams, 92 kills, 73 blocks
Game Day Info: Bloomfield, NE Monday and Tuesday October 17 and 18.
Schedule to be posted.
For our football Game of the Week, we will be in Atkinson as West Holt hosts Clearwater-Orchard. West Holt has all but locked up a playoff spot and are now playing for a better seed. The Cyclones, however, are in full playoff mode already, as they likely have to win at least one of their remaining games to make the postseason.
Why is this the Game of the Week? Both teams have a lot of motivation as we close in on the end of the regular season. Three weeks ago, West Holt looked to be one of the top teams in the state, with their only loss coming to Creighton. Since then, they have dropped two straight, first to Burwell then to Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing. They look to stop the two game losing skid and move up the playoff seeding with a win over the Cyclones, who come in with a two-game losing skid of their own. They are right on the edge of the playoff picture and can secure a spot with a win or two to finish the year. They are young and talented, if they can put it together, an upset is waiting.
Who is going to be there? West Holt (3-3), Clearwater-Orchard (2-4)
Players to watch: West Holt - Bryce Kerkman, Junior, Dynamic athlete with a strong arm and great at making plays with his feet.
Clearwater-Orchard - Creston Bertschinger, Junior, 812 all-purpose yard, 7 total touchdowns, 47 total tackles
Game Day Info: Atkinson, NE. Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m.
I hate to say it, but the high school football season is beginning to wind down. We have just two weeks left in the season for teams to make their final bids for district championships and playoff seedings.
Around this time of year, teams tend to find that extra bit of motivation to pull out a win or two that they aren’t expected to win. With that being said, lets look over a couple of teams that are on the edge of playoff contention and take a wild guess at how things will finish out for them.
Lets start with Clearwater-Orchard. After a loss to Burwell last week, the Cyclones are now 2-4. They are a team that is full of youth, so they are as unpredictable as any team in the area.
However, their final two games are no gimmies, taking on West Holt and Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing to wrap up the year. That is a brutal way to end the year. If they play well, they can pull an upset, but it’ll be tough. Prediction: Finish 2-6, sneak into playoffs as a lower seed.
Next, we look at the Cardinals of Boone Central/Newman Grove. At 4-3, they have dealt with a tough schedule. However, they still control their own destiny. They take on district foe Columbus Scotus this week in what will likely determine the district runner-up. After that, they have a date with 1-6 Grand Island Central Catholic to end the year.
Scotus will not be a cakewalk, but the Cardinals have hit a hot streak lately. Plus, they have Dylan Gentrup, and Dylan Gentrup is the real deal. Prediction: Finish 6-3, make playoffs as a wildcard.
From there, we take a look at the Stuart Broncos. The Broncos started off with what seemed like two strong wins in 2016. However, from there, they faltered to four straight losses, including a loss to North Central. a squad that had just one win entering the game.
The Broncos lost a lot of talent from last year, and the inexperience has shown at times. They always seem to reload, but a showdown with Bloomfield to finish the season could prevent them from seeing the post-season this year. Prediction: Finish 3-5, just barely miss the playoffs.
Our final team we look at is Niobrara/Verdigre. At 1-5, it may seem a longshot to be thinking playoffs for the Cougars, but with the number of teams ineligible to participate in the playoffs this year in D1, they still have as good a shot as anyone.
They earned their one win over Laurel-Concord-Coleridge on the legs of dynamic athlete Kevin Rudloff, who went for 286 yards on the ground that night. They finish with games against Hartington-Newcastle and Wakefield, a couple of 4-2 teams that have already locked in a playoff bid.
As things stand right now, the Cougars are as close to the edge as anyone in the playoff picture and an upset or two is the only way they will make their way in. If they can get their run game going like they did against LCC, it’s certainly possible. Prediction: Finish 1-7, miss playoffs.
On top of the teams that are right on the edge of playoff contention, their are many other teams that you can all but pencil in to a playoff game when they start October 27.
Undefeated squads such as O’Neill and Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing obviously have their spots, Crofton, Bloomfield, Creighton, West Holt and St. Mary’s will all likely have great seeding when the brackets are announced at the end of the season. Of course Riverside and St. Edward are locks to return to the six-man tournament as well after they wrap up two spectacular seasons.
It’s safe to say area fans will have a lot to cheer for between now and November 21 and 22, when we hopefully see an area finals team.
Game of the Week
We are in the final stretch of the 2016 fall sports season. Some teams will even be wrapping up the regular season this week. The games are about to start getting a lot more meaningful, as teams are working for playoff positioning and district titles.
On the football side, I can be found out in Atkinson as West Holt hosts Clearwater-Orchard. The Cyclones are looking to rebound after a two-game losing streak and make their way back into the playoff picture. West Holt, coming off a tough loss to Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing, will also be looking to return to the win column and boost their playoff seeding.
For the volleyball Game of the Week, look for me at the Knox County Tournament as we look to find out who the top team in Knox County is for 2016.
For our football Game of the Week, we will be in Spalding as Riverside hosts St. Edward in a rematch of the 2015 six-man state championship. Both teams have yet to face much of a challenge in 2016 and this promises to be a classic showdown.
Why is this the Game of the Week? Not only is this a rematch of last year's championship, it's likely to be a preview of this season's state championship game as well. Neither team has faced much of a challenge so far this year, with the smallest margin of victory for St. Edward being a 28-point victory. Riverside hasn't had a game closer than 53 points. Both teams are averaging greater than 50 points per game, so this is likely to be a high-scoring affair, assuming the Beavers can find a way to get past Riverside's defense that hasn't allowed more than 13 points in a single game.
Who is going to be there? Riverside (5-0), St. Edward (5-0)
Players to watch: Riverside - Noah Valasek, Senior, 541 yards passing, 14 passing touchdowns, 494 yards rushing, 14 rushing touchdowns
St. Edward - Brayden Olson, Senior, 896 rushing yards, 18 rushing touchdowns, 1101 all-purpose yards, 21 total touchdowns
Game Day Info: Spalding, NE. Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m.
For our volleyball Game of the Week, we'll be traveling to Clearwater for the Clearwater-Orchard Double Triangular. Chambers/Wheeler Central, Wausa and Elgin/Pope John all make their way to Clearwater to join the Cyclones in a double triangular that has three potential state playoff teams. Lets break down this match up.
Why is this the Game of the Week? This will be a showdown of three potential playoff teams. EPPJ and CWC are both top five in wildcard points for their respective classes. Clearwater-Orchard is in the top half of the point standings and have had a strong second half of the season. Wausa has struggled throughout the season but they hope to make some noise against some strong teams.
Who is going to be there? Clearwater-Orchard (10-7), Elgin Public/Pope John (19-0), Chambers/Wheeler Central (12-5), Wausa (3-11)
Players to watch: Clearwater-Orchard - JoCee Johnston, Sophomore, 133 kills, 21 aces, 69 total blocks
EPPJ - Liz Selting, Senior, 200 kills, 26 total blocks
CWC - Jacie Laetsch, Senior, 216 kills, 29 aces, 33 total blocks, 147 digs
Game Day Info: Clearwater Site. Thursday, October 6 at 5 p.m.
5 p.m. - Clearwater-Orchard vs. Chambers/Wheeler Central
6 p.m. - Chambers/Wheeler Central vs. Wausa
7 p.m. - Wausa vs. Elgin Public/Pope John
8 p.m. - Elgin Public/Pope John vs. Clearwater-Orchard
I’m about to say something that I hope you don’t all hate me for. I, Logan Lawson, am a Yankees fan.
Glad I got that off my chest.
Now I have to admit, I haven’t been able to pay as much attention to baseball as I have in years past, partially because it has been a busy summer, what with moving and getting married and such. I know, trivial things compared to professional baseball, but things I had to take care of regardless.
Lets not tell my wife about that last sentence.
Anyway, back to the playoffs. As a Yankees fan, I’ve had to adopt a second team over the past few seasons due to the struggles. That team: the Kansas City Royals. Part of the decision was as a bandwagoner, part was because my wife is obsessed with them and it kind of rubbed off on me. They have been a fun team to watch, with all of those former high draft picks finally paying off for them.
Having two teams to cheer for worked out well, until this year. The Yankees finished fourth in a surprisingly tough division, the only team with a winning record in the AL East to not make the playoffs. Respectable, but still frustrating. The Royals, on the other hand, finished third in a fairly weak division, barely finishing at .500.
So now, I have to sit here, during my favorite playoff of major professional sports, with no team to root for. Do I adopt a temporary team? I’m not a fan of anyone in the AL bracket. Despite my respect for David Ortiz, I hope the Red Sox get swept by an average of ten runs. The rest, I could care less for.
On the NL side, I can probably cheer for the Cubs, as the saddest streak in sports needs to come to an end sooner or later. I also attended a Cubs game a couple years ago, and a day in Wrigleyville can make anyone a Cubs fan.
I could also probably find it in me to cheer for the Nationals, simply because Bryce Harper is the biggest thing to hit the National League since Barry Bonds was smashing bombs into McCovey Cove.
However, I don’t really know if it is worth it for me to pick a team. Maybe I should just sit back and watch everything unfold. It has certainly been an interesting season in professional baseball. It’s easy to find indvidual players to root for when there is constantly new talent coming into the league, as has been the case the past few years, except for Tim Tebow.
Maybe I will do that. Maybe I’ll just sit back and enjoy the greatest postseason in professional sports for once.
Game of the Week
I am admittedly way too excited about this week’s Games of the Week. That’s because I will be experiencing a rematch of the 2015 six-man state championship when I travel to Cedar Rapids to see Riverside take on St. Edward in a game that will likely determine the favorite for the 2016 championship.
On the volleyball side, you can find me in Clearwater for the Clearwater-Orchard Double Triangular. Wausa and Clearwater- Orchard will take their shot at knocking off unbeaten Elgin Public/Pope John, while Chambers/Wheeler Central looks to cement their spot among the top teams in Class D2.
If you have a suggestion for our next game of the week, call me at (402) 887-4000 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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