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Morris Area's Schultz wins Hengstler-Ranweiler Award, is one of top players in girls hockey

It didn't take long for Morris/Benson Area hockey coach Jeff Mahoney to recognize that he had a special talent on his hands in Dani Schultz.

And he didn't mind saying so, once telling an awards banquet crowd that his precocious center would one day outdo her older brother, Tony, a prep star who finished his career with 80 goals and 87 assists.

"I think Dani was a freshman at the time," Mahoney recalled with a chuckle. "But she was that good."

It was no idle boast.

Dani Schultz ended up scoring 256 goals -- yes, you read that right -- and dishing out 151 assists in a varsity career that began in eighth grade and will continue at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Those feats helped her win the Tribune's 2011 Hengstler-Ranweiler Award as the outstanding female athlete in the area.

Schultz was an equal -- if not surpassing -- talent in softball, earning all-conference honors four straight years and Tribune All-Area honors twice (the 2011 all-area team hasn't been selected). She also played volleyball, excelling defensively with 645 career digs, and earned a total of 11 varsity letters.

Unselfish play

Even though she racked up gaudy personal statistics on the ice, Schultz is credited with spreading the wealth to other players. Three of her teammates -- Sara Rajewsky, Sam Falk and Kelly Mahoney -- each scored more than 100 points in their careers, suggesting that there was plenty of scoring to go around for the Storm with Schultz on the ice.

"Dani got the puck to everybody," Mahoney said. "Her goals and assists are pretty close. A lot of players who score a lot of goals don't get a lot of assists. But she got everybody involved, which made it hard for teams to shut her down."

Morris/Benson Area (a pairing that also includes players from Minnewaska Area) won the Southwest Conference title in Schultz's junior and senior years, but the Storm fell to Alexandria in the section tournament both seasons. The Storm finished 21-4 in 2010-2011 -- with Schultz scoring 74 goals and handing out 44 assists -- their only losses coming to three larger schools (Willmar, Sartell and Alexandria twice).

She earned all-conference honors her junior and senior years after the independent Storm joined the Southwest Conference.

"She was hard-nosed and she has a motor that just won't quit," Mahoney said. "That's her biggest asset -- it just never shuts down."

Schultz said playing hard comes naturally because she loves the game. "It's fun to play and even more fun to get better," she said. "My family helps me out a lot. We go to the rink together and they push me -- but not too hard."

Field smarts

Mary Beth Holmberg, the Morris Area athletics director who has coached the girls' softball team since 1980, ranks Schultz as one of her best players ever and said she would make a great coach.

Asked to recall a big play, Holmberg cited not a hit or a throw but rather an improvisation: Schultz sliding head-first into first base to get beneath an errant throw in a narrow Morris Area win over Benson-Hancock.

"She is so instinctive and anticipates so well," Holmberg said. "She's a thinker and she's a very smart player."

Schultz, a catcher/third baseman, hit .523 with 24 RBIs and 25 runs as a senior as the Tigers made it to the final four of their section, where they were eliminated by losses to New Ulm and Pipestone.

While the section losses brought an end to the season, Schultz participated in the Minnesota High School All-Star Girls Softball Series on June 11 in Mankato, catching three innings in each of three games. It was a fitting addendum to a brilliant prep career.

"She's just a pure athlete," Holmberg said. "When she was in elementary school and junior high, you could see it even then. You just knew that she would be playing varsity at an early age."

Past Male Winners

1961 -- Stan Skjei, Appleton

1962 -- Bob Bruggers, Danube

1963 -- Gary Lottman, Kerkhoven

1964 -- Dave Mueller, Buffalo Lake

1965 -- Lane Erickson, Willmar and Jeff Hinz, Willmar

1966 -- Paul Kelly, Morris

1967 -- Rob Anderson, Renville

1968 -- Ken Haskamp, Belgrade

1969 -- Steve Dooley, Murdock

1970 -- Russ Livingood, Olivia

1971 -- Brad Rheingans, Appleton

1972 -- Larry Mulder, Renville

1973 -- Loren Beste, Sauk Centre

1974 -- Greg Mulder, Renville

1975 -- Kevin Mulder, Renville

1976 -- Dave Klug, Litchfield

1977 -- Dan Neubauer, Bird Island

1978 -- Tom Stackpool, Glenwood

1979 -- Mike Kingery, Atwater

1980 -- Lee Monson, Atwater

1981 -- Barry Wohler, Bird Island

1982 -- Corey Haaland, Clarkfield

1983 -- Jim Williamson, Appleton

1984 -- Tim Piechowski, Raymond

1985 -- Tom Zenner, Belgrade

1986 -- David Hanson, Montevideo

1987 -- Barry Beck, Appleton

1988 -- Craig Hawley, Benson

1989 -- Tom Hagert, Willmar

1990 -- Scott Wilts, KMS

1991 -- Jeff Nordgaard, Dawson-Boyd

1992 -- Bobby Beck, Lac qui Parle Valley

1993 -- Link Steffen, Granite Falls-Clarkfield

1994 -- Brian Bock, Willmar

1995 -- Jason Jacobs, Olivia

1996 -- Ryan Rettke, Morris

1997 -- Josh Kotelnicki, Litchfield

1998 -- Ken Sather, Dawson-Boyd

1999 -- Eric Rambow, Litchfield

2000 -- Alex Carlson, Litchfield

2001 -- Mike Patten, Litchfield

2002 -- David Blom, ACGC

2003 -- John Carlson, Litchfield

2004 -- Brett Winkelman, Morris

2005 -- Ben Kuznia, BOLD

2006 -- Joey Fragodt, Benson

2007 -- Daniel Fragodt, Benson

2008 -- Tyler Grey, Montevideo

2009 -- Kevin Steinhaus, KMS and Mike Felt, Redwood Falls

2010 -- Joel Bauman, KMS

Past Female Winners

1979 -- Linda Richards, Buffalo Lake

1980 -- Kris Hanson, Granite Falls

1981 -- Bonnie Henrickson, Willmar

1982 -- Kay Konerza, Lester Prairie

1983 -- Ann Meyer, Sauk Centre

1984 -- Diane DeRoo, Brooten

1985 -- Corinne Anderson, Willmar

1986 -- Michele Marthaler, Brooten

1987 -- Kristin Peterman, New London-Spicer

1988 -- Wendy Adams, Cosmos

1989 -- Kelly Mahlum, DRSH

1990 -- Jill Knisley, Litchfield

1991 -- Darci DuHoux, MACCRAY

1992 -- Kelli Geurtz, MACCRAY

1993 -- Kristina Ervin, MACCRAY and Tonia Nelson, New London-Spicer

1994 -- Susan Semmler, New London-Spicer

1995 -- Carrie Tollefson, Dawson-Boyd

1996 -- Carrie Jacobson, Willmar

1997 -- Chelsea Stiel, Benson

1998 -- Jessica Ackerman, New London-Spicer

1999 -- Becky Moen, Morris

2000 -- Carin Rambow, Litchfield

2001 -- Heather Hyatt, Morris

2002 -- Krista Rambow, Litchfield

2003 -- Grete Peterson, YME

2004 -- Kara Karlsgodt, ACGC and Beth Zimmer, Willmar

2005 -- Alyssa Dahl, Willmar

2006 -- Laura Nielsen, Willmar

2007 -- Nikki Swenson, Dawson-Boyd

2008 -- Megan Groen, RCW

2009 -- Heidi Lensing, BBE and Emily Roelike, BBE

2010 -- Abby Fragodt, Benson