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Steinhaus, Felt, Lensing, Roelike win Hengstler-Ranweiler Awards

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There's nothing exciting about a tie. Especially in sports. There should be a winner and there should be a loser. That's what competition is all about. Heck, even a tie goes to the runner in baseball. They don't let the runner stay on first base, yet still record an out.

The same thing should happen regarding the naming of awards. Don't be a coward, observers will say ... pick a winner.

We tried. And we failed. In 49 years of naming winners (31 years for females) for the Hengstler-Ranweiler Award, an honor given to the outstanding prep athletes in the area, we have had only three ties.

This year, however, new ground was broken. In the first year without an official banquet, we had not one, but two ties. Perusing the accomplishments of each of them, it's easy to see why. There simply was not a clear-cut winner for the boys or girls.

Kevin Steinhaus of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Michael Felt of Redwood Valley are two of the best male athletes the area has seen in many years. Each shattered an all-time Tribune record, each competed in two different state tournaments and each received a Division I scholarship. And each capped their career with the Hengstler-Ranweiler Award.

The selection of the girls' winner was even more ironic since they were teammates throughout their careers in two of their three sports. Emily Roelike and Heidi Lensing of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa were named this years's co-winners of the Hengstler-Ranweiler Award.

"I think it was the right thing to do," said BBE athletic director Jerry Lindstrom, about the two classmates being named co-winners. "It's unusual to have two such talented individuals at a small school in the same year. I don't think we'll have that happen again for a long time. They are both very deserving of this award."

Lensing and Roelike are the first BBE girls to win the award. Before the pairing, Diane DeRoo of Brooten was the 1984 winner and Michele Marthaler of Brooten won in 1986.

"I think it's pretty cool," said Lensing about sharing the award with a classmate. "I've played two sports with Emily and it was so fun playing with someone so competitive."

The Hengstler-Ranweiler Award is named after Herb Hengstler and Lefty Ranweiler, two longtime Tribune sports editors. The award began in 1961 with Stan Skjei of Appleton being chosen the first winner. Linda Richards (Saunders) of Buffalo Lake was the first female winner in 1979. Athletes must be in three sports through their senior year, must have been all-conference in at least two of their sports and must have not had a Minnesota State High School League violation at any time during their varsity career.

Schools nominate qualifying athletes and submit information on each one. The Tribune sports staff decides on the winners, with help from various sources throughout the area.

Many of the past winners have gone to enjoy successful collegiate and professional careers. Mike Kingery of Atwater, the 1979 winner, played 12 seasons of major league baseball with several teams. Carrie Tollefson, the 1995 winner form Dawson-Boyd, competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Brad Rheingans, the 1971 winner from Appleton, wrestled in the 1972 Olympics. Jeff Nordgaard, the 1991 winner from Dawson-Boyd, played briefly for the Milwaukee Bucks and many seasons professionally overseas. John Carlson, the 2003 winner from Litchfield, is the starting tight end for the Seattle Seahawks. Bonnie Henrickson, the 1981 winner from Willmar, is the current head women's basketball coach at Kansas University.

Golden boy

You'd almost think Kevin Steinhaus, a 15-time letterwinner, was a prospector with the amount of gold he's acquired. The KMS senior won three state titles in wrestling, helped the team win a state title his senior year, and quarterbacked the football team to a state title.

"A lot of people here were talking about the award, but I didn't think about it a lot," said Steinhaus, who signed a letter of intent to wrestle for the Minnesota Gophers. "I'd always read about the winners in past years and thought it would be nice to win. It's a big honor."

Steinhaus became the area's all-time leader in career wins in wrestling, capping off a senior year in which he went 50-0 and was named Mr. Minnesota Wrestling. He won state titles in each of his last three seasons in high school, finished second as an eighth-grader and third as a freshman. In all, he went 248-12 for his career, breaking Beau Penk of Litchfield's previous rec-ord of 235 wins. Steinhaus also had 95 career pins.

"Kevin is an enthusiastic leader who is very dedicated and determined," said KMS wrestling coach Wes Haglund. "He has a sincere desire and is willing to work hard to achieve whatever is asked of him. He goes way beyond what is required and exceeds expectations."

In football, Steinhaus was All-Area as a defensive back his junior year and as a quarterback his senior year. He led the Fighting Saints to the Class A title this past fall, completing 81 of 117 passes for 1,459 yards and 21 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. He led the area all season in passing efficiency. On defense, he intercepted 11 passes and made 28 tackles. In his career, Steinhaus amassed 3,844 passing yards and 54 touchdowns. And he had 104 tackles and 19 interceptions.

"A great leader who is smart, athletic, cool, calm and collected," said KMS football coach James Cortez. "He brings a winning attitude to the team and exudes confidence but is humble."

Steinhaus was also a gifted track athlete. The five-time letterwinner is part of the Benson/KMS school-record 4x800 relay team that finished second in the section meet last year and third this spring. He has also competed in the 400, 800 and 1,600 meter runs.

"Kevin had a very good track career," said BKMS track coach Chad Carroll. "He definitely improved as a senior and that's saying something after the grueling year he had in his other sports. He is s huge boost to our team and comes with a positive attitude to challenges presented to him every day."

Steinhaus is the second athlete from KMS to win the Hengstler-Ranweiler Award. Scott Wilts won in 1990. Before KMS paired, Gary Lottman of Kerkhoven won in 1963 and Steve Dooley of Murdock won in 1969.

Like Steinhaus, Wilts was also a state wrestling champion.

"I think I was a pretty dedicated athlete," said Steinhaus. "I put in a lot of work."

And he's been rewarded for it, time and again.

As smooth as Felt

When Jamaal Wilkes played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers years ago, he was nicknamed "Silk" for the smooth way he went about his business on the court. Redwood Valley senior Michael Felt plays the same way ... in control, hard to rattle and always as hard as he can. In all his sports.

"It's really an honor," said Felt, who earned 12 letters at Redwood Valley. "A few people mentioned it to me that I was up for it, but I didn't think I would win it. It's pretty exciting."

Felt is the first Redwood Valley athlete to win the H-R since the Tribune began including the school district in its coverage area seven years ago.

The 6-2 guard shattered the Tribune's 49-year-old record for career scoring in basketball, finishing with 2,450 points, 13th on the state's all-time list. Bob Bruggers of Danube, a 1962 graduate, held the previous mark of 2,364 points.

"I never really think about my numbers," said Felt. "I worked a lot on my shot. I've always been competitive and I like having the ball in my hands with the game on the line. But I never worried about how many points I had. I just wanted to win so bad."

Felt, a four-year starter in basketball, led the area in scoring each of the past two seasons (just over 30 points-per-game) despite being double- and triple-teamed on most nights. He scored 40-or-more points 11 times in his career and scored in double figures in 64 straight games. He had a career scoring average of 24.8 points-per-game. He also had 567 rebounds, 363 assists and 147 steals in his career. His 338 three-pointers is fourth on the state's all-time record book.

"Mike is an extremely gifted athlete who is always willing to put forth effort to make himself better," said Redwood Valley basketball coach Markus Okeson. "He was very coachable and made his teammates better players."

Felt played football for two seasons and was second in the area in passing efficiency as a junior in his first year as a starting quarterback after having played defensive back the previous season. Despite having an inexperienced receiving corps, Felt completed over 50 percent of his passes and had 1,159 yards passing.

"Mike is one of the most disciplined athletes I've ever coached," said Redwood Valley football coach Matt Lundeen. "He is dedicated to improving himself. He's at school at 6 a.m. lifting or shooting baskets or something. As far as football goes, he was about the most pure passer I've seen. He deserves any award he gets."

Felt switched to cross country his senior year to build up his stamina for basketball in college after signing with North Dakota State. In his first year out for the sport, he qualified individually and also with the Redwood Valley team for the state meet. He became the team's No. 2 runner.

Felt qualified for state in two events his senior year, the 800 run and as a member of the school-record 4x800 relay team. A five-year letterwinner in track, he has earned a trip to state every year in the 4x800 relay. The team took third-place honors Saturday at the state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul.

All out all the time 

The one phrase nearly every coach and fan uses when describing Roelike is "She gives everything she has in everything she does."

She was thrilled when told she had won the H-R award.

"It's something I've always thought would be cool to win, but I never thought I would. It's really exciting."

Roelike played baseball since fourth grade and wanted to continue to play the sport in high school, but opted for softball. She possesses an arm that many prep pitchers wished they had.

"I've always liked baseball," said Roelike, who earned 13 letters. "I've been playing Legion baseball for Lake Henry and I plan to again this summer."

Roelike didn't fare too badly in softball either. She would have been a sure All-State and All-Star Series selection as a senior, if not for a processing error. She was All-State as a junior.

She batted .471 her senior year and did not strike out all season. She also belted three home runs, drove in 20 runs, scored 32 runs and stole 35 bases in 36 attempts.

"Emily has a better arm and range than any girl we have played against," said BBE softball coach Zach Nelson. "She is extremely fast and can dominate the game in all phases."

The five-year starting shortstop had 147 career hits for the Jaguars and a career batting average of .452.

In volleyball, Roelike lettered four years and was a three-year starter at outside hitter and libero. The three-time all-conference and two-time All-Area pick had 258 kills her senior year with a .297 kill percentage. She also had 416 digs and missed only eight of 308 serve-receive attempts. The Jaguars went 31-3 her senior year and 111-15 in her four seasons on the varsity, including a fourth-place finish at state her senior year. In her career, Roelike had 1,308 digs, 473 kills and 104 ace serves.

"Emily is a fierce competitor who refuses to lose," said BBE volleyball coach Kevin Weller. "She will sacrifice herself to get the win and is a very hard worker with a love for the game. She is always challenging herself."

A four-year starter in basketball, Roelike was a second team All-Area pick her senior year after averaging 15.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.5 steals per game as the Jaguars went 18-9. She had 1,383 points, including 142 three-pointers, 436 rebounds, 278 assists and 270 steals in her career.

"A true team leader on and off the floor," said BBE basketball coach Greg Hagen. "During the season, or the off-season, Emily is constantly improving her skills and those of her teammates. She exemplifies what the H-R award represents."

Roelike will attend Ridgewater College in Willmar next fall and plans to play volleyball and softball.

Reaching new heights 

Lensing capped an illustrious career with a third- and fifth-place finish at the Class A state track and field meet on Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul.

An 11-time letterwinner in volleyball, basketball and track and field, Lensing's desire and leadership came to the forefront in each sport.

"This is really exciting," said Lensing when informed Saturday night that she had won. "I honestly didn't expect to win with all the amazing athletes up for it." 

In volleyball, the 5-11 Lensing was arguably the best volleyball player in the area and was named All-State twice. A four-year starter, she had 437 kills, 115 ace blocks and 28 ace serves her senior year when the Jaguars posted a 31-3 mark and a fourth-place finish at state. One of the hardest hitters and best leapers to play in the area in several years, Lensing pounded down 1,070 kills and had 235 ace blocks in her career. She was also a standout on defense, notching 840 digs in her career.

"Heidi has outstanding leadership on and off the court," said BBE coach Kevin Weller. "She has a passion for the game and strives to keep getting better."

In basketball, Lensing also utilized her excellent vertical jump to average a double-double of 15.6 points ands 11.8 rebounds per game her senior year as BBE went 18-9. She was selected to the All-Area second team. In her career, Lensing had 833 points, 661 rebounds, 174 assists and 150 steals.

"Heidi is a gifted athlete with a drive to win," said BBE basketball coach Greg Hagen. "She is the best leaper I have had the honor of coaching." 

A four-time letterwinner in track and field, Lensing brought back her bronze medal in the long jump and a fifth-place medal in the high jump this spring. She also made state appearances in the long jump as a sophomore when she placed fifth and in the high jump last season when she was eighth. She holds the school record in the 300 hurdles in 48.0 and also ran a 12.99 in the 100 dash.

"Heidi is an athlete that seems to do no wrong," said BBE track coach Mike Richards. "She always wants to do more in practice to make herself better. She will try any event and does well in it. This year, we had her try the 300 hurdles and she breaks the school record."

Lensing will attend the Minnesota, Moorhead next fall and plans to play volleyball.