Five win KNUJ banquet honors
NEW ULM – Tuesday night’s 51st annual KNUJ Player of the Year Banquet saw history as three wrestlers shared the honor of Player of the Year, the first time that more than two athletes have shared Player of the Year honors for any winter sport.
The decision resulted from the unusual circumstance of having seven state champions among the list of nominees for the award – Sibley East junior Nathan Rose, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Area senior Taner Trembley, River Valley senior Lance Briard, Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther senior Adam Cooling, Glencoe-Silver Lake senior Mitchell Hartwig, LeSueur-Henderson sophomore Austin Anderly and LCWM Area sophomore Louie Sanders.
The award was narrowed down to wrestlers that won their second state title this year, earning Rose, Cooling and Trembley a share of the award.
Rose (45-0 record) won his second straight Class A state title at 195 pounds this season, Cooling (44-0) won the Class A title at 160 pounds this year after taking the title at 145 pounds in 2012 and Trembley (41-2) won the Class A title at 138 pounds after having won at 132 pounds last year.
The girls’ basketball Player of the Year was BOLD junior Carly Sigurdson and the boys’ basketball Player of the Year was Mountain Lake junior Carter Kirk.
Sigurdson led all of the girls’ basketball nominees with 637 points this season (21 points per game) and also recorded 48 3-pointers, 112 assists, 110 steals and 98 rebounds. She helped the Warriors reach the Class AA state tournament and was named as the West Central Conference Player of the Year.
Kirk was the top scorer among the boys’ basketball nominees with 736 points and helped the Wolverines advance to their second straight Class A state tournament. He amassed 26 double-doubles this season and one triple-double, producing season totals of 395 rebounds, 104 assists, 75 blocks and 47 steals.
The guest speakers for the evening were former Player of the Year nominees Brian Langeland (boys’ basketball, Butterfield/Odin ’78), Kari Wersal (girls’ basketball, Sanborn ’83) and Johnny Frank (wrestling, Wabasso ’00).
All three speakers drew on their experiences growing up in small towns and urged this year’s nominees to be sure to stay involved in sports and to act as mentors for future generations, repaying the support they received from their communities. Each of the speakers have coached in some capacity in their adult lives, with Wersal and Frank both coaching full time. Wersal led Warner (S.D.) to a state championship in volleyball this season and Frank coaches football, wrestling and track and field (throws) in Faribault.