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The 2017 fall sports season has come and gone, maybe a little faster than some had hoped. It was full of highs and lows for all the teams in the area each and every week. Individuals from al across the Local County News area put in work and the results showed under the lights when it was game time.
With that, we are proud to introduce the 2017 Fall Sports All-Area Teams. With help from our staff and coaches from across the region, we narrowed down the list to 25 football players, 25 volleyball players, 15 boy cross country runners and 15 girl cross country runners that stood above the rest all year long.
Congratulations to all the honorees on both the All-Area teams and the honorable mention list. You’re hard work has not gone unnoticed.
On the top 25 list for football, Antelope County placed seven standouts on the team for 2017.
Creston Bertschinger, Sr., Clearwater-Orchard: Bertschinger is a two-time honoree on the list. He was one of the big reasons for the Cyclones’ success this year, racking up a team-high 1488 all-purpose yards and 15 scores.
Andrew Herley, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale: Herley was a leader in a variety of ways for a Warrior squad that needed upperclassmen leadership. He did it on the field by leading the team in rushing, return yards, touchdowns and tackles.
Chris Kester, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard: A Swiss-army knife of sorts, Kester filled in wherever for the Cyclones. He spent time as a quarterback and running back as well as a defensive back. He finished with a team-high 506 passing yards, 490 rushing yards, team-high four interceptions and 13 touchdowns.
Jacob Long, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard: The guy in the heart of the stout Clearwater-Orchard defense was Long. He led the way with 94 tackles. He also came on strong late in the year offensively, rumbling for 406 yards on the ground.
Josh McFarland, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: Another two-time honoree, McFarland was a clear leader for the Falcons. He led the team in rushing with 429 yards, all-purpose with 934 yards, tackles with 88 and touchdowns with 10.
Hunter Reestman, Jr., Elgin Public/Pope John: The epitome of someone who is just a great football player, Reestman was capable of playing anywhere for the Wolfpack. He mostly worked in the offensive backfield, finishing with team highs in passing with 693 yards and rushing with 598 yards.
Clay Thiele, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard: Thiele was arguably the top pass-rusher in the area in 2017. He finished with nine sacks on the year as part of his 76 tackles. He also added 263 yards and five touchdowns receiving on offense.
The competition on the court was intense all year for Antelope County, which explains the 10 girls that earned their spot on the all-area list.
Grace Henn, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: Henn was a star at the net for a Wolfpack team with plenty of firepower. She finished tops on the team in kills with 238.
JoCee Johnston, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard: For the second year in a row, Johnston earns a spot on the team thanks to her dominance at the net. She finished among the Class D1 leaders in kills and blocks, with 315 and 90, respectively.
Haley Kerkman, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale: The Warriors broke in a lot of new talent in 2017, but Kerkman was one constant, serving as the setter all season. She dished out more than 400 assists, brought up more than 200 digs and served up more than 50 aces.
Calli Krebs, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: Krebs was one of the top liberos in the area week in and week out. She finished with 299 digs while posting a serve receive rate of 93 percent.
Paige Meis, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John: Another member of the aggressive Wolfpack, Meis was capable of doing it all. She was best at the net, however, finishing second on the team with 234 kills.
Amber Miller, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: The Falcons charged into the state tournament this year, and the two-time honoree Miller was a big reason. She finished with 52 aces on the year, brought up 341 digs and dished out 418 assists.
Hannah Ollendick, Jr., Elkhorn Valley: Few players in the area showed the hitting power that Ollendick did in 2017. That was evident in her 249 kills and her 42 aces. She was also a quick defender, bringing up 323 digs.
Grace Rittscher, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard: Rittscher filled into the libero spot almost seamlessly for the Cyclones in 2017. She finished the year with a school-record 452 digs to go along with her team-high 58 aces.
Julian Tuttle, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard: With the Cyclones putting down so many kills, someone had to dish out the ball. That was Tuttle, who finished with 530 assists on the year as well as 43 aces.
Allyson Wemhoff, Jr., Elgin Public/Pope John: Wemhoff was one of the unsung weapons for the Wolfpack. While the others were getting the kills, she dished out the assists, finishing with 378 of them to go with her 41 aces and 235 digs.
Boys Cross Country
Antelope County cross country fans were spoiled in 2017 as they got to see the three honorees from the county compete on nearly a weekly basis.
Cole Belitz, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale: After narrowly missing out on the state meet last year, Belitz, a two-time all-area member, made it easily this year. He set a number of school records on the way to state, where he finished 54th with a time of 18:45.3.
Hunter Bennett, Fr., Elkhorn Valley: Bennett burst on the scene in 2017 for the Falcons, giving them a strong 1-2 punch all year. He finished the year at the state meet in Kearney, taking 42nd with a time of 18:30.1.
Brayden Effle, Sr., Elkhorn Valley: Another two-time honoree, Effle got over the hump and qualified for his first state meet in 2017. He finished the day in 78th with a time of 19:14.7.
Girls Cross Country
The boys weren’t the only ones tearing up the course this fall, as Antelope County placed two girls on the cross country list.
Emma Bixler, So., Neligh-Oakdale: Bixler stepped up as a leader in 2017 for the Warriors, consistently finishing among the top runners at each meet. She was well on her way to a state berth before an unfortunate injury prevented her from finishing at districts, where she was well within the top 10 runners.
Alison Stineman, So., Elkhorn Valley: Stineman, a two-time honoree, improved on an incredible freshman season with an even better sophomore year. She won a number of meets throughout the season before taking home a medal for 12th with a time of 21:00.1.
Complete All-Area Lists
The full all-area list, including athletes from Antelope, Holt, Boone and Knox counties, is below, listed alphabetically:
Creston Bertschinger, Sr., Clearwater-Orchard
Carter Croxen, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing
Spencer Davis, Jr., O’Neill
Dylan Gentrup, Sr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Ross Gribble, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing
Ghatlin Hegge, Jr., Wausa
Andrew Herley, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale
Bryce Kerkman, Sr., West Holt
Chris Kester, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard
Trevor Klabenes, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing
Levi Krueger, Sr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Daniel Libolt, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing
Wyatt Liewer, Sr., O’Neill
Mason Lofquist, Sr., West Holt
Jacob Long, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard
Ty Martinsen, Jr., Riverside
Josh McFarland, Jr., Elkhorn Valley
Quentin Moles, Sr., Bloomfield
Cody Nelson, Sr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Hunter Reestman, Jr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Ethan Sattler, Jr., Stuart
Levi Stacken, Sr., Creighton
Clay Thiele, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard
Derek Wortman, Jr., Creighton
Bryce Zimmerer, Jr., Creighton
Kirsten Adams, Jr., Creighton
Payton Birkel, Sr., O’Neill
Reaghan Engal, So., Stuart
Ashtyn Fritz, Jr., Creighton
Grace Henn, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Morgan Haschke, Jr., Riverside
JoCee Johnston, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard
Haley Kerkman, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale
Ashley Koenig, So., Ewing
Bailey Kraus, Sr., West Holt
Calli Krebs, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Paige Meis, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Amber Miller, Jr., Elkhorn Valley
Hannah Ollendick, Jr., Elkhorn Valley
Jenae Osborne, Sr., West Holt
Taylor Jean Peter, So., Chambers/Wheeler Central
Peyton Randolph, Jr., West Holt
Grace Rittscher, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard
Josie Sanger, Jr., Crofton
Bailey Schindler, Sr., Ewing
Miranda Summers, Jr., Ewing
Julian Tuttle, Jr., Clearwater-Orchard
Michelle Wachter, Sr., Bloomfield
Maddie Walkowiak, Sr., Riverside
Allyson Wemhoff, Jr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Boys Cross Country
Joseph Albrecht, Fr., West Holt
Connor Arens, Fr., Crofton
Tanner Arens, Jr., Crofton
Cole Belitz, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale
Hunter Bennett, Fr., Elkhorn Valley
Brayden Effle, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Tyler Janssen, Jr., Crofton
Nathaniel Jennings, Sr., O’Neill
Aaron Kraus, Fr., West Holt
Cole Laible, Jr., West Holt
Jonathon Lindgren, Fr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Derek Mahony, Sr., Chambers/Wheeler Central
Jacob Riggs-Ramage, Jr., St. Edward
Ben Thiele, Jr., West Holt
Colby Zuhlke, Fr., Crofton
Girls Cross Country
Haley Arens, Sr., Crofton
Emma Bixler, So., Neligh-Oakdale
Alexis Boldenow, Fr., Crofton
Kira Dickau, Jr., Stuart
Bree Eisenhauer, So., Bloomfield/Wausa
Katie Goodwater, Jr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Briaunna Parks, Sr., O’Neill
Kelsey Schieffer, Fr., Crofton
Autumn Simons, Fr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Jordan Soto-Stopak, Fr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Alison Stineman, So., Elkhorn Valley
Whitney Watson, Jr., O’Neill
Samantha Weeder, Fr., Boone Central/Newman Grove
Carlie Wetzel, Jr., West Holt
Ann Woockman, So., Bloomfield/Wausa
Honorable Mention, football
Neligh-Oakdale - Austin Rice, Nate Buck, Tucker Knust, Kaleb Pofahl
Elkhorn Valley - Brock Schaecher, Caden Reikofski
Elgin Public/Pope John - Liam Heithoff, Kyle Schumacher
Clearwater-Orchard - Zach King, Ryan Wilhelm
Boone Central/Newman Grove - Jessie Sullivan, Will Frey, Garrett Cornwell
Riverside - Micheal Bernt, Riley Swerczek, Trey Carraher, Joseph Bloom
St. Edward - Jesse Osantowski, Trevor Rasmussen
Niobrara/Verdigre - Dakota Crosley, Trent Bauer, Keith Rudloff
Creighton - Travis Tyler, Brayden Zimmerer, Noah Lilly, Brady Nelson
Bloomfield - Branston Gieselman, Michael Castaneda, Trenton Holz, Braden Eisenhauer
Wausa - Tyson Kaiser, Drew Munter
Crofton - Jaden Janssen, Ethan Poppe
Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing - Ethan Naughtin
O’Neill - Alex Thramer, Shayne Campbell
St. Mary’s - Grady Semin
West Holt - Shayden Neptune, Mason Hale
Stuart - Wade Paxton, Wyatt Paxton, Isaac Steinhauser
Honorable Mention, volleyball
Neligh-Oakdale - Amanda Dietz, Bailey Frey, Kristen Snodgrass
Elkhorn Valley - Brianna Werner, Sierra Rystrom
Elgin Public/Pope John - Nicki Payne, Kaylee Martinsen, Lydia Behnk
Clearwater-Orchard - Avery Cheatum, Katie Stearns
Riverside - Grace Schalk, Becky Schmeits, Alix Bloom
St. Edward - Treva Tharnish
Creighton - Kasey Kuhl, Sydney Walton, Clarissa Becker
Bloomfield - Addison Barger
Wausa - Paige Nissen, Megan Kleinschmit
Crofton - Madisen Kube, Danielle Steffen, Mackenzie Foxhoven
Ewing - Skye Schroeder, Tiana Thramer, Jaidyn Schindler
Chambers/Wheeler Central - Jamie Koenig, Morgan Ramsey
O’Neill - Aurora Gutshall, Claire Morrow
St. Mary’s - Abby Everitt
West Holt - Caitlin Butterfield, Madisyn Steinkraus
Stuart - Peyton Alder, Kennison Kunz