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By Marlys Kruger
ELK MOUND — Elk Mound boys basketball coach Michael Kessler will say good bye to eight seniors from this year’s basketball team. The Mounder boys finished 15-9 overall and 11-3 in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play, one game out of first place.
In this very unusual season where players had to wear masks during the games and fans were very limited, the Mounders were one of just a couple of conference teams that did not have to deal with players having to quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus.
Of the eight seniors, Nate Lew was the only four-year letter winner. In his final season, he was second on the team in assists with 60 and third in rebounds with 94. His highest scoring game came in his junior year with 13 points against Fall Creek.
“What a competitor!” coach Kessler said. “It was fun to coach Nate for four years. He held himself to a high standard in the classroom and in the athletic arena. I am amazed at the efforts he put into preparing himself to play. 5 a.m. workouts at Gold’s Gym almost every day became a habit for Nate, and he always managed to drag other Mounder athletes with him. I am excited to watch his next chapter as he continues his athletic career playing football at UW-LaCrosse,” he added.
Ryan Bohl earned three letters for the Mounders and as a senior led the team in assists with 92, steals with 47, and in three-point shots with 50. He was second in scoring with 275 points. He was the leading scorer his junior year with 274 points with 59 triples. His high game came his junior season with 25 points against Bloomer.
“Ryan was a competitor,” Kessler remarked. “He did whatever it took to try and win games. He was as committed as anyone on our team. He did early morning workouts at Gold’s Gym and shot into the wee hours of the night after games. A consistent demand of himself to do things the right way allowed Ryan to have a solid career in Elk Mound. He continually challenged himself and his teammates, and held everyone to a high standard.”
Another three-year letter winner, Ben Heath led the team in rebounds as a senior, snaring 125 of them. He was also third in the scoring department with 259 points with a high game of 24 against Glenwood City this year.
“Ben had a tremendous senior season,” Kessler said. “It was really nice to see his hard work pay off with a really good year. He provided a ton of energy on the defensive end, and at times took over on the defensive end with his rebounding. Ben did a great job attacking the basket this year, and hit some big perimeter shots. Basketball skills aside, Ben’s energy and attitude will be missed. He always came into the gym and made everyone around him feel at ease with his calm demeanor,” he added.
Yet another three-year letter winner, Michael Jenson grabbed 48 rebounds and had 30 assists as a senior. He had a high game of 17 points three times, including one against Boyceville this year.
“Michael had a successful career for the Mounders,” according to Kessler. “He had many games in his career where he caught fire from the perimeter. He did a great job attacking the basket and his active hands caused a lot of problems for opposing offenses. I’m really excited to see Michael’s athletic journey continue as he heads south to play football for Upper Iowa,” he stated.
A pair of players lettered two years for Kessler, one being Antonio Meyer. He recorded 27 rebounds and 11 assists this season and had six points in a game versus Durand.
“What a worker,” Kessler said about him. “Antonio had a tremendous motor and gave each possession his absolute best. Much like a few of our other kids, he committed himself to working tremendously hard to prepare himself for each season. He also did the 5 a.m. workouts at Gold’s Gym which was a habit for him. He brought a lot of other teammates along with him and continually challenged them to be better. That work effort will take him far in life,” he added.
Ethan Levra lettered for two seasons but played in just eight games as a senior. He scored six points, with four rebounds and two assists. As a junior he played in 22 games and recorded 23 rebounds and 21 assists.
“This was a tough year for Ethan as he battled ankle injuries most of the season,” Kessler said. “I felt terrible for him having to deal with those injuries, even though he was hurt, he showed up to practice every single day and was often seen helping his teammates as they came out of drills. His support of his teammates was evident throughout the year, even through his injury-riddled campaign,” he remarked.
Jack Gabert lettered this season and saw action in 12 games. He posted six rebounds and four points.
“Jack was a super fun kid to have a round,” Kessler commented. “It was a tough spot for Jack to be in, as he probably did not see as much game action as he would have wanted. Jack always gave his best effort in practice and helped us a ton as we prepared for our opponents. I always loved chatting with Jack at practice as he left you with a smile with his quick-witted responses.”
Mitchell Ruppelt was another one-year letter winner who dealt with injuries this season. He played in just two games and came up with one steal and one rebound.
“Mitchel was a burst of energy,” according to Kessler. “Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a shoulder injury but I was very happy we got him a start and into the game on senior night against Mondovi. He always made everyone around him laugh and kept the locker room, bus rides and practices up- beat,” he concluded.
Editor’s Note: There were no senior girls this year for Elk Mound.