Another prep season is in the books, and as always, it was an eventful year.
The West De Pere football team repeated as WIAA Division 3 state champions, and Wrightstown won in Division 4.
The Green Bay Notre Dame boys tennis team went undefeated to win its first Division 2 state championship, while the school’s hockey team also captured its first title.
Coleman won a third straight D3 state title in wrestling and its first state championship in baseball. Luxemburg-Casco wrestling won a D2 title for the 10th time in program history.
Don’t forget about girls basketball, with De Pere winning a Division 1 state title and Kewaunee winning in Division 3.
It was, to say the least, a banner school year.
“I don’t think there is any better feeling than being here and doing this,” West De Pere football coach Bill Turnquist said after his team beat Wisconsin Lutheran 39-24 in the state title game.
This season also marked some other significant team and individual accomplishments, from the De Pere girls soccer team advancing to the Division 1 state title game for the second time in six years to the Bay Port baseball team reaching the D1 title game for the third time in four years.
The West De Pere softball team made it to state for the first time, and several area wrestlers and track and field athletes won gold on the biggest of stages.
“The last few years it’s been a goal of mine, and it didn’t really work out the way I wanted to,” said Algoma’s Zach Blahnik after winning his first discus title with a Division 3 record throw of 175 feet, 6 inches at the state track and field meet last month. “I was coming in sophomore year expecting to get gold, it didn’t happen. Really came in junior year expecting to get gold and that didn’t happen, either. Not qualifying in shot at sectionals really made me focus everything I had into discus.”
So sit back and enjoy the eighth annual Preppie Awards. As always, the winners receive nothing but the satisfaction of being able to say he or she was a Preppie Award winner.
School of the year
De Pere: The Redbirds win for the first time since 2005, and for good reason. The girls basketball team won the WIAA Division 1 state title and the girls soccer and volleyball teams both made it to state. The girls and boys basketball teams, the girls soccer team, the baseball team and the volleyball team all won or shared a Fox River Classic Conference championship.
Team of the year
Green Bay Notre Dame boys tennis: The Tritons went undefeated for the first time in program history and captured their first Division 2 state title with a win over state powerhouse University School of Milwaukee in the championship match.
Boys athlete of the year
Jay Tollefson, West De Pere: Tollefson was named The Associated Press all-state high school football player of the year, becoming the first area player to win the award since Notre Dame’s Joe Walker in 2003. Tollefson led the football team to the Division 3 state championship and helped the baseball team win the Bay Conference title as a first-team all-conference catcher. He will play football this fall at Northern Michigan University.
Boys coach of the year
Bob Berceau, Luxemburg-Casco: The Spartans wrestling coach led the program to its 10th state championship and sixth in his tenure. L-C went 25-3 and didn’t lose to a team in the state.
Inspiration of the year
Dan Baker, De Pere: Nobody dealt with a bad hand in life better than Baker, who died of cancer in April. De Pere named its track after the longtime track and field coach at a ceremony Baker was able to attend just days before he died. The way he handled himself that day, and during his life, will never be forgotten by those who knew him.
Stats person of the year
Jeff Bins, Green Bay Notre Dame: His three-year Preppie run ended last season after he forgot to email a Week 1 football result to media outlets. He returned to prominence this season, providing updated stats during games and detailed reports throughout the year.
Athletic trainer of the year
Dave Reinke, Green Bay Preble: Reinke wins the award for the second straight year. He was instrumental in helping Preble’s football team make the playoffs and made sure girls basketball star Kenzie Perttu remained healthy enough to become the metro all-time leading scorer.
Team manager of the year
Aaron Boyce, Bay Port: Boyce proved how much a person can grow in four years of high school. After being unable to do more than grunt a response as a freshman, Boyce was outgoing and talkative by the time he was a senior and displayed a firm handshake. He did it all for the boys basketball team. “He actually went from being very shy to being a goofball,” Bay Port coach Nate Rykal said.
Girls athlete of the year
McKenna Larsen, Oconto Falls: You aren’t supposed to be this dominant as a sophomore. Larsen was a unanimous first-team pick in the Bay Conference in volleyball, basketball and softball. She set a school record for aces (150) and digs (632) in volleyball, averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in basketball and struck out 220 in 144 innings in softball.
Girls coach of the year
Kelly McNiff, De Pere: McNiff was named the AP girls state basketball coach of the year after leading the Redbirds to a 24-4 record and the Division 1 state championship. McNiff became the fourth female coach in 30 years to win a D1 title.
Hall of famer
Jodi Gibbons, West De Pere: One of the finest individuals associated with prep sports retired after 34 years as the school’s activities secretary. Gibbons was more than that to the people who knew her. Friend. Confidant. Part-time athletic director. She bled orange and black. When West De Pere builds a statue for football coach Bill Turnquist some day, there should be one of Gibbons next to him.