It was another strong season for Knox County athletes as several individuals and teams made a strong push to end their season.
Two seniors and a sophomore stood out above the rest in their respective sports and were named the captains for the 2018-19 all area team.
Crofton sophomore Lacey Sprakel had a big year for the girls basketball on their way to a Class C2 state runner-up finish.
“I can’t be successful without my teammates,” Sprakel stated. “They’re always there for me to give positivity, to help out and to help me do what I do. I’m there for them to help them do what they do too.”
Crofton’s balanced attack, helped guide the Lady Warriors to the title game. One of the few constants for the Crofton scoring was Sprakel, who led the team with 16 points and eight rebounds per game.
“Coach (Aaron) Losing always says I’m the leading scorer and I can get it down there and do what I can do,” Sprakel added. “With how the other girls work, if I’m not having a good game down in the post they are out there and know they have to take the lead and get some scorers. They know that and they did a very good job of doing that. That’s what helped them out and I knew I had to do what was best for my team to succeed. We got to the state championship this year and it was amazing. We all worked together and we were all very good.”
Sticking with the hardwood, A longtime Wausa point guard was selected as a captain for the boys basketball all area team.
Viking senior Tyson Kaiser has been a solid contributor for Wausa since his rookie season.
“From the beginning of my freshman year, I never had that great of leaders as a freshman,” Kaiser recalled. “I knew I had to start somewhere and start strong. The only way to do that was start my freshman year. Being a starter all four years has impacted me a lot. I’ve been able to grow tremendously. In my senior group, we’ve had three boys who have been starting since freshman year. It’s been a long journey, but it’s been pretty fun.”
Along with being the Vikings’ top scorer, Kaiser was also the top distributor and ball handler for the purple and gold.
“Distributing the ball is almost more fun that scoring the ball,” Kaiser commented. “Getting points for your teammates is awesome. It helped out a lot to have great scorers on my team. My two other senors (Ghatlin Hegge and Drew Munter) I’ve been playing with them ever since I got here in second grade. We have super good chemistry together and we know what each other are going to do. I trust them and whatever shot they take. I know they can make it. Any possible way I got them the ball, I knew they could score.”
The all area wrestling team captain is Creighton senior Bryce Zimmerer. Zimmerer has had an amazing past couple of months athletically. The senior Bulldog was a member of the state qualifying legion team for Creighton this past summer and helped lead the football squad to a perfect 13-0 record and Creighton’s first state championship.
“We made it to state in baseball and we’re gunning for this year to have a better finish,” Zimmerer noted. “In football we all worked really hard and came out on top. We had a few guys get hurt in the end, but we still got it done. I had a good year.”
Zimmerer then followed up his state title in football with a runner-up finish at the Class D state wrestling tournament.
“I had to put in a lot of work to get where I am and it definitely paid off for me,” Zimmerer continued. “Working hard has been what has helped me the most. I stayed after practice working and came in the mornings to lift. The past few months, I’ve been blessed with good teammates too. That’s helped a lot.”
What is more impressive than Zimmerer’s performances on the diamond, the gridiron and the mat, is the fact the 170 pounder is coming off a serious knee injury he suffered just last year.
“The ACL injury was pretty tough, but I came in the morning and did my squats; that helped me battle through that,” Zimmerer concluded. “I had a good doctor that got me the right workouts and stuff to help heal my hamstring and ACL. Following his instructions helped me to heal properly. It feels normal now.”
With plenty of talent in the county, it is no wonder so many athletes ended up on the all-area team.
With the help of coaches and staff, we narrowed down a field to 15 girls and boys basketball players that stood above the rest all year long. The state qualifiers for wrestling automatically earned a spot on the list.
Congratulations to all the honorees on both the All-Area teams and the honorable mention list. Your hard work did not go unnoticed.
Although only two Knox County grapplers qualified for state, both of them had stellar seasons.
Bryce Zimmerer, Sr., Creighton: A year removed from a serious injury, Zimmerer was back on the mats and had a phenomenal season. Zimmerer ended his career with a runner-up finish at the state wrestling tournament and surpassed more than 100 career wins
Cody Hanvey, Jr., Creighton: Hanvey got his first taste of what state wrestling is all about after qualifying for the state tournament this past season. Hanvey hopes to add a medal at next year’s state tournament and continue to pile up wins.
On the top 15 list for girls basketball, Knox County placed nine standouts on the team for 2018-19.
Lacey Sprakel, So., Crofton: Sprakel was an absolute force and a double-double machine on the offensive end for the Lady Warriors. Sprakel recorded seven doubles-doubles this year, while averaging 16 points and eight rebounds a night. Sprakel averaged 19 points and eight rebounds in the Lady Warriors’ three state tournament games, and earned a spot on the all-tournament squad.
Josie Sanger, Sr., Crofton: Sanger was ‘Miss Everything’ for the Lady Warriors this season. In her final season, Sanger averaged 7 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals per game.
Alexis Arens, Jr., Crofton: Arens was a key contributor for the Lady Warriors this past year. The junior was one of the top defenders on a team that gave up just 40 points per game. Offensively, Arens averaged 9 points and six boards per contest.
Kaley Einrem, So., Crofton: Einrem’s strong play down the stretch helped the Lady Warriors earn runner-up finish at the state tournament. In the final three games of the season, Einrem averaged 10 points at the state tournament. For the season, the sophomore guard contributed 8 points, three assists, three rebounds and three steals per game.
Hannah Sheridan, Jr., Santee: Sheridan was one of the top scorers in the area after a strong junior campaign. Sheridan averaged almost 30 points per game. In her final game of the season, the junior Lady Warrior surpassed 1,000 career points and will look to add to that total next season.
Ashtyn Fritz, Sr., Creighton: Fritz saved her best for last as she ended her hoops career as one of the top players in the area. The senior guard led the team in assists with 49, was second in points per game with 10.2 and rebounds with 136. Fritz’s stellar play earned her a spot on the Lewis & Clark Conference team.
Maycee Zimmerer, Fr., Creighton: One of the top underclassmen in the area, Zimmerer showed that the future for Creighton girls basketball is bright. The freshman led the squad in points per game with 14.2 and rebounds with 161. Zimmerer was named to the Lewis & Clark Conference team as well in her rookie campaign.
Morgan Kleinschmit, So., Wausa: In just her second season of high school basketball, Kleinschmit took a big step forward this season. The sophomore earned all-Lewis and Clark Conference honors after averaging 9 points and six rebounds per game.
Chaney Konopasek, Fr., Niobrara/Verdigre: Perhaps one of the top rookies in the area, Konopasek has the Lady Cougars believing there is a bright future ahead. The freshman guard averaged 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and five steals per game.
Seven area cagers were placed on the all-area team after stellar performances on the hardwood.
Tyson Kaiser, Sr., Wausa: In his final season for the purple and gold, Kaiser helped guide the Vikings to a strong season. The senior guard led the squad in points (14) and assists (2.1) our game. Kaiser also averaged three rebounds and two steals a contest.
Drew Munter, Sr., Wausa: The man in the middle for the Vikings, Munter was the top post player for the team this season. Munter contributed 10 points and six rebounds per night.
Braden Eisenhauer, Jr., Bloomfield: It was Eisenhauer’s stellar play that helped guide the Bees to the subdistrict finals. Eisenhauer, who was an all-Lewis and Clark selection, averaged 15 points, five rebounds, three steals and four assists per game.
Conner Hammer, Jr., Creighton: Unlike his size, Hammer had a big year for the the Bulldogs on the hardwood. Hammer scored just under 10 points per game, while collecting a team-best 66 assists and 38 deflected passes.
Camden Eisenhauer, Jr., Niobrara/Verdigre: The Cougars’ top offensive threat, Eisenhauer had a solid season this year for N/V. The junior captain led the blue and white with 218 points (11.7 per game), 89 rebounds (3.7 per game) 42 steals and 22 assists.
Connor Dahl, Sr., Crofton: Dahl wrapped up his hoops career with a strong year. The senior Warrior averaged 9.5 points and six boards per game, while shooting and impressive 52 percent from the field.
Romeo White, Fr., Santee: White continued his stellar rookie season for the Warriors. After a successful year on the gridiron, White helped pace Santee with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals per contest.
Complete All-Area Lists
The full all-area list, including athletes from Antelope and Knox counties, is below.
Bryce Zimmerer, Sr., Creighton
Cody Hanvey, Jr., Creighton
Josh McFarland, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Christian Yaw, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Brock Schaecher, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Prestin Vondra, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Mitchell Petersen, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Hunter Bennett, So., Elkhorn Valley
Adam Miller, So., Elkhorn Valley
Andrew Herley, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale
Cameron Wilkinson, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale
Jayden Arehart, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale
Kaleb Pofahl, Jr., Neligh-Oakdale
Brock Kester, So., Neligh-Oakdale
Dawson Kaup, So., Neligh-Oakdale
Colton Klabenes, So., Neligh-Oakdale
Clay Thiele, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Donaven Nolze, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Codey Snider, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Tommie Peed, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Lacey Sprakel, So., Crofton
Josie Sanger, Sr., Crofton
Alexis Arens, Jr., Crofton
Kaley Einrem, So., Crofton
Morgan Kleinschmit, So., Wausa
Ashtyn Fritz, Sr., Creighton
Maycee Zimmerer, Fr., Creighton
Chaney Konopasek, Fr., Niobrara/Verdigre
Hannah Sheridan, Jr., Santee
Amber Miller, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Hannah Ollendick, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Sierra Rystrom, Sr., Elkhorn Valley
Allyson Wemhoff, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Paige Furstenau, So., Neligh-Oakdale
Katie Stearns, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Tyson Kaiser, Sr., Wausa
Drew Munter, Sr., Wausa
Romeo White, Fr., Santee
Connor Dahl, Sr., Crofton
Camden Eisenhauer, Jr., Niobrara/Verdigre
Braden Eisenhauer, Jr., Bloomfield
Conner Hammer, Jr., Creighton
Blake Hoke, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Ryan Wilhelm, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Jacob Long, Sr., Clearwater/Orchard
Cole Belitz, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale
Austin Rice, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale
Braedyn Ollendick, So., Elkhorn Valley
Isiac Kurpgeweit, Sr., Neligh-Oakdale
Kyle Schumacher, Sr., Elgin Public/Pope John
Honorable Mention, girls basketball
Crofton - Danielle Steffen, Aubree Potts, Ryah Ostermeyer, Alexis Folkers
Bloomfield - Michaela Johnson, Alexandra Eisenhauer
Wausa - Paige Nissen, Clara Schindler
N/V - Megan Cook
Creighton - Jessica Stevens
EPPJ - Grace Rittscher, Kirsten Krebs, Kayce Kallhoff
Elkhorn Valley - Olivia Nall
N-O - Trinity Kurpgeweit
Honorable Mention, boys basketball
Creighton - Brayden Zimmerer, Clay Curtis, Carson Lilly
Bloomfield - Trenton Holz
Wausa - Ghatlin Hegge, Ethan Baue
N/V - Ken Justo, Rane Vesely
Crofton - Brad Tomasek
Santee - Yamni Archambeau, Antonio Hoffman, Michael Hoffman
OC - Chris Kester, Gage Clifton
EPPJ - Conor Ramold
Elkhorn Valley - Julio Sierra, Brandon Evans, Carter Rautenberg