By Marlys Kruger
12 senior football players and eight volleyball players concluded their fall sports careers by winning conference championships for Elk Mound recently.
Having the distinction of playing on the last team coached by Dan Pedersen were Jordan Klemp, Nick Heit, Will Miller, Dakota Tarnow, Nate Mack, Yeng Her, Josiah Bauer, Jon Wolgemuth, Chris Hayden, Ryan Bridges, Jon Adank and David Henningfeld.
Klemp added his name to a plaque in the glass case in front of the high school gym as he joined the 1,000 yards rushing club, compiling 1,277 yards for the season. He also scored a team leading 16 touchdowns while averaging 137 yards a game. He ran for 525 yards as a junior with three touchdowns and picked up 13 yards his sophomore year for a total of 1,815 yards on the ground. He played three years on the varsity as a running back and on defense as a linebacker, earning second team All Conference as a running back and a linebacker this year and honorable mention running back as a junior.
Miller was a four year starter for the Mounders, playing in the offensive line for two years before becoming a fullback. He was the second leading rusher for the team this year with 181 yards with five TDs but was also a pretty good receiver, collecting 11 passes for 158 yards and four scores. Playing on both sides of the ball, he was a two year All Conference pick, first team as a linebacker this year and second team linebacker and second team offensive lineman as a junior. In the past two seasons he collected 47 solo tackles with 191 assists with three quarterback sacks as a junior.
Heit took over the quarterback duties after alternating at the job last year and ended his career with 2,052 passing yards including 1,855 as a senior with 20 total touchdowns, 18 this year. He was named the second team quarterback for the conference this season.
Three year varsity player Tarnow was the leading receiver for the team this year, snaring 42 passes for 724 yards and 10 touchdowns and added 396 yards as a junior with three more scores. He was also a starting defensive back for two years and was named first team All Conference two years as a receiver and honorable mention as a defensive back his junior year.
Mack was a two year starter for the Mounders, playing receiver and linebacker. He was the second leading receiver for the team as a senior collecting 382 yards and four touchdowns and picked up 188 yards with a pair of TDs as a junior. On the defensive side, Mack picked off four opposing quarterback passes this year and one as a junior with six sacks. Pedersen referred to Mack as “the heart and soul of the defense” for his team this year. He earned first team accolades as a defensive back and second team receiver as a senior and was second team on defense as a junior.
Anchoring the defensive line for two years, Josiah Bauer made the most of his abilities, according to Pedersen. As a junior, he picked up 10 solo tackles and 50 assists with four sacks, and added 11 solos and 63 assists with two QB sacks as a senior.
“Josiah was in the middle of every play and was double teamed a lot this year,” Pedersen commented. “He showed tremendous improvement from when he started with the program.” Bauer earned second team defensive lineman for his efforts.
Bridges was a three year varsity player, starting two years on both sides of the line. He was an offensive guard, blowing holes open for his runners to run through, and moved from defensive end his junior year to the nose tackle spot this year. He led the team his junior year with 14 tackles for loss of yardage to go with 25 solo tackles and 37 assists, and added 13 solos with 38 assists this year with four QB sacks. He was also an All Conference pick as a first team offensive lineman and second team defensive lineman this year.
Adank was also a three year varsity player and two year starter who played on both sides of the line for the team. He played defensive end, and tackle on the O-line, another one who threw key blocks for his running backs and kept his quarterback safe while passing. He was a second team All Conference pick this year as a lineman for the offense.
Hayden, Her, Henningfeld and Wolgenmuth earned spots on the varsity as seniors. Hayden was a backup defensive back, Her played inside linebacker and ran the ball a few times on offense, Henningfeld was a backup center and had the all important job as the long snapper for extra point kicks, and Wolgenmuth, a starter on the offensive line, broke his arm early in the season and didn’t get to finish it out.
“All of these seniors worked hard last summer and set a team goal to win conference and get to playoffs,” Pedersen said. “We had great leadership and I believe that came out of the fact they all really liked each other and were team orientated. They can be proud of the season they had,” he concluded.
The Mounders went 9-0 in conference play and ended the season for the second year in a row against Regis in a regional contest. After losing in a semi-final game last year, this year the Mounders reached the regional final before falling to the Ramblers.
Becca Kopp was a four year letterwinner for coach Donna Weix and was a three time All Conference selection, first team as a senior and second team as a sophomore and junior. Kopp probably set a school record in assists as she led the team all four years in that category with a total of 1,501. She was second in the conference with 505 this year, and served up 127 aces in four years with 54 as a junior.
Kaysi Meindel was a three year varsity player and led the conference in kills this year with 334. She was also second in solo blocks with 25, first in assisted blocks with 52 and was third in ace serves with 46. For her career she finished with 631 kills to go with 78 aces, 56 solo blocks and 123 block assists. She was a first team All Conference pick this year and was honorable mention as a junior.
Maddy Polden (or Mad Dog as her teammates affectionately called her) was another three year varsity player. She was eighth in the conference in kills as a senior with 181 with a three year total of 370. She totaled 48 block assists and spent more time in the back row this year, finishing fourth in the conference in digs with 316 with a career total of 432. She earned second team All Conference this year.
Kylynn Simon also played three years on the varsity, compiling 135 digs, 43 kills, 22 ace serves, 29 assists and eight block assists.
Amanda Ward came on strong the second half of her senior season and ended up third in the conference in kills with 232, sixth in digs with 290 and added 34 assisted blocks. She played two years at the varsity level and was an honorable mention selection this year.
Katie Bergh was a two year varsity player and saw most of her action in the back row, and as a senior, came up with 272 digs. She also added 13 sets and blocked a pair of shots for the team.
Anne Kendzierski also saw action for two years on varsity, and this year set her teammates up 21 times and picked up two blocks while assisting on eight more.
Ali Hill-Zurbuchen was a member of the varsity for two years but battled injuries all this year. According to Weix, Hill re-injured a foot after having surgery on it over the summer. She did record one dig and three service receptions before having to cut her season short.
“The four All-Conference girls were our team captains this year,” Weix said. “They were strong leaders on and off the court. All of the seniors had a huge, life long impact on the younger girls. With the dedication, determination, will power and team work this group showed, it is hard to let them go. I am very proud of all the girls and what they have accomplished this year. The impact they have extended goes well beyond the game of volleyball and that is much more important at the end of the day. The younger girls will have very big shoes to fill next year,” she added.