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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Stegeman Leads Rest of The Area Field in Voting

Issue Date: September 5, 2019

The top word that comes to mind when people think of Mitchell VanVooren is probably "athletic' or something along those lines.

VanVooren did it all for Peshtigo High School in 2018-19, leading the team on the football field, basketball court and most notably on the track.

VanVooren blazed his way to a first place finish at state in the D2 110-meter hurdles as a senior, also taking third in the 300-meter hurdles. He set Peshtigo High School records in both, running a 14.51 and 38.11 in each respectively and claimed three conference titles.

Those times earned him a spot on the Marquette University track and field roster, where he'll look to make a mark as a freshman in the NCAA's top division.

"I really feel the sky is the limit for him," Peshtigo track and field coach Joe Nault said. "I've been around some world-class hurdlers in the past. The work ethic he has combined with the way he attacks the hurdles looks very familiar. Mitchell is a shining example of the local talent that can emerge when heavy doses of hard work and desire are applied. Speaking on behalf of the entire coaching staff here, we look forward to watching him take the next step in his career."

VanVooren also went to state in the 1600-meter relay, leading the team to a second place finish, though the hurdles are where he stood out. It wasn't until his senior year that he truly made his mark, despite qualifying as a junior.

"I thought compared to 2018, he was a different guy this year at State. He was very poised and confident and extremely focused when race time actually began," Nault said. "Running prelims and finals in that many races in just two days is a huge task. Walking out of all that as a state champ in one event and medaling in the other two is exceptional. No one will ever be able to take those accomplishments away from him."

On the basketball court and football field, he may not have won state, but if you had a team of 10 Mitchell VanVoorens, you might win state there too.

On the football field, he posted 855 yards receiving, caught 12 touchdown passes and finished third on the team with 50 tackles. VanVooren won Packerland Conference first team honors as a tight end and defensive back and was named co-offensive player of the year. "Mitchell is very coachable and extremely hard working individual," said Peshtigo football coach, Jeff Bayerl. "He was an excellent blocker and outstanding high school receiver. Better than that, Mitch is a very respectful young man and a pleasure to coach."

VanVooren also posted 14.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a senior for Nate Motkowski's boys' basketball team, winning team MVP while earning first team all conference honors.

"Mitchell did everything and anything our team needed from him this last season, whether it was scoring, rebounding, passing or playing tough defense. He is a winner in every sense and true competitor with a very unique skill base," Motkowski said. "Mitchell is one of the most gifted athletes I've ever been blessed to work with because of his size, strength, speed and pure athleticism."

That wasn't what impressed his coach the most, however.

"More importantly, Mitchell is simply a terrific young man who understands the importance of being a student first, a great teammate, a coachable player, and positive active member in his community," Motkowski said. "My favorite traits of Mitchell have nothing to do with his abilities on the court and everything to do with his drive to succeed, ability to make everyone around him better and his optimistic, contagious attitude. Mitchell has worked hard to etch his name in Peshtigo sports history and he deserves all the recognition and I can't imagine a better representative of our school."

There's more than just the athlete that meets the eye with Mitchell VanVooren.

Second on this years list, and an extremly close second at that was Suring's Mitchell Stegeman. A three sport athlete that led his Suring teams to some great success over the year.

He started his season on the football fields of the area.

Mitchell Stegeman finished his career as a first-team wide receiver.

"Mitchell Stegeman had a very difficult season that started with a great game at Manawa, but resulted in a broken rib," said Taylor. "Then was out for five games, before coming back and having two great games at the end of the year to propel us into the playoffs. Mitchell was a very good leader that despite the injury was always at practice helping others get better. Mitchell will be truly missed, along with fellow seniors Reece Garrigan, Josh Reed, and Jeffrey Miller; these four gentlemen put a lot of time and energy into our football program throughout their four years in Suring. Logan will be back again as we venture into our first year of 8-man football. He will have to pick up where he left off this year and become a vocal leader for our team."

Afters football he took to the court of Suring to participate in the areas basketball season,

During that season Stegeman was able to earn player of the year for the M&O Conferrence.

But it was in the track and field part of his year that Stegeman relay made a name for himself. During that push Stegeman was able to become conference champion in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the 4x400 relay. He was a state qualifier for the 110 hurdles and was champion with a time of 14.59. He placed third in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 39.52 and was 2nd in the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:24.91.

"I'm very happy," Suring coach Heidi Gerndt said.of Mitch's performance at sectionals "Our guys won every invitational except for conference last year. Mitch did a great job tonight"

Stegeman had this to say at the state meet in LaCrosse, "It was a little windy and warm but when you're in the zone it doesn't really affect you I guess. I'm just excited to be here. Too much adrenaline. I've been doing it the longest and I'm the most successful in it," he said. "It's definitely my favorite."

Crivitz got two of thier standout athletes on this years Top five list and at number three was none other that the indomitable Jaden Werner.

Werner, a three sport athlete started his year on the football field where he earned a first team selection for the offense and a second team selection for the defense. On the offense he was offensive player of the year.

"Jaden Werner, did a great job running a new offense, " said Crivitz Head Coach Matt Bernier. "He took control of the ball and did a great job running and also passing the ball. "

He then continued his sporting season on the basketball court where he was able to establish himself as a quick hitting scorer. He earned a first team spot for his play with the Wolverines.

During the baseball season he was one of the best pitchers the area had to offer, well actually he was one of the best the state had to offer.

He ended the season with a first team selection as well as earning a spot amongst that season's Tri-MVP.

"In terms of Jaden's play this past spring, he was definetly a kid who set the tone for us offensively and defensivley. He played at a very high level all year for us on the mound, said Crivitz head coach Jeff Dorschner. "What I liked most about him this past year was the leadership he showed to the younger players. He's not necessar;ty a vocal leader but leads by example. His teammates off this energy. Jaden accumulated 104 strikeouts on the mound this past season which put him in the top five in the state in that category and led out offense in every major category. I am certainly excited about getting to return home to the field this coming season.

The Coleman Cougars are historically known for their wrestlers and the occasional football star, but few Cougars in recent memory have been as well-rounded as Kasey Casper, most known for his exploits on the cross country and golf courses.

Casper went to state for golf and cross country four times in his career, culminating in a D3 fifth-place golf finish at University Ridge in Madison as a senior, his best as a Cougar.

"Kasey played great, consistent golf all season," Coleman golf coach George Laitinan said, lauding Casper's work ethic, which earned him the M&O's player of the year award by a wide margin, a first-place finish at regionals and a second-place finish at sectionals, cementing himself as one of the area's top golfers in recent memory.

Casper earned first team all conference cross country honors with a second place finish at the M&O meet. He also took 34th overall in Division III as a cross-country runner, and led Coleman to their first ever team state appearance.

"Kasey is truly a great all-around kid. He's a very dedicated athlete and he always "showed up' for every practice regardless of how hard it was going to be," Coleman coach Becky Chaltry said. "As he developed in the sport, it was so fun and rewarding to see him really blossom as a leader among his peers. By the time he was a junior, he was leading his team and fellow runners during warm-ups and workouts, giving encouragement and confidence to his teammates. I'm going to miss him this season big time."

And while he excelled at golf and cross country, that's not to say he wasn't a pretty good wrestler himself, also making a handful of contributions on the baseball diamond as a four-sport athlete early in his high school career.

In his junior season, a shoulder injury kept him from reaching his wrestling goals, but in his senior season Casper earned first team all conference honors and took fourth at sectionals narrowly missing state.

Golf was Casper's top priority, meaning re-injuring his shoulder would have been disastrous, but his goal was to help his team to state, something the Cougars came up just short of.

"We didn't know if he would even wrestle his senior year especially with his first love as golf and knowing if he injures that shoulder again he might not be able to golf his senior year, but Kasey still choose to wrestle to try and help his teammates win a state championship and that tells me and makes me the most proud of the type of kid Kasey is," his wrestling coach and dad Kevin Casper said. "It was more important to him to be a great teammate than thinking about himself only, so as a coach those things are sometimes more important that wins and losses."

Casper's shining moment on the wrestling mat may have been senior year, when he beat Marathon's Dane Klinger, who was fourth in the state at his weight class the season before.

It didn't end the way Casper wanted it to on the mat, but he's got plenty of other accolades to hang his hat on that may not be matched at Coleman High School for years to come.

The other Wolverines making his way to the top for this past years sporting season was Wolverine Tony Jopek.

Jopek, also a three sport athlete took part in football, wrestling and Track and Field.

Starting his year in the gridiron Jopek was able to earn himself a first team offense selection as well as a second team defense selection.

"Tony Jopek, was a dual threat runner and receiver from his position," said Berneir. "He had break away speed and was a big play maker in our offense."

After football he took to the wrestling mat where he was able to receive an honorable mention.

Track and Field saw Jopek make a pretty important milestone for his school. He was 400 meter champ, triple jump champ and took second in pole vault and second in long jump.

Jopek had this to say at the state meet, "It's awesome just making it here. I got a lot more than I expected," Jopek said. "I started out in a not very good ranking and just made up for it."


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