It has been around since 1979 and has included collegiate All-Americans and even an Olympian, Carrie Tollfeson of Dawson, who ran in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
It’s the top of the top in the West Central Tribune area, three-sport athletes who excelled in all three-sports, making them candidates for the Hengstler-Ranweiler Award.
The annual award will be announced Saturday. Here are the finalists for this year’s female winner, based on nominations from area athletic directors and coaches:
VOLLEYBALL: A starter on a team that managed to get in 12 matches because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Braves went 3-6 in the West Central Conference and 4-8 overall when the season was shut down. She was a defensive specialist who earned the team hustle and most-improved award. A captain, she was an academic all-stater. “Like so many people on this team, she was just easy to coach,” Benson volleyball coach Shannon Schmidt said. “She comes in, works hard, does what’s asked of her.”
BASKETBALL: An all-conference guard and team captain who lettered three times, scoring 96 points including 23 3-pointers with 40 rebounds, 38 assists and 27 steals in 17 games. “She is a gamer,” Benson girls basketball coach Adam Foslien said. “She is competitive and she hates to lose. Her laid-back personality off the court led to her fierce play on it. She enjoyed the success of her teammates more than her own. She was a great leader for our team.”.
SOFTBALL: An all-star game participant, she broke schools records for most stolen bases and had a team-best .505 batting average with a school-record 34 stolen bases, collecting 46 hits, 31 RBI and 32 runs, she was the team MVP and on the West Central Tribune All-Area team for one of the best squads in the area. The Braves went 18-8 and lost in the Section 6A final to Browerville/Eagle Valley, which wound up second in the state in Class A. “She is the full package as a ball player,” Benson softball coach Barb Schwarz said. “She could play in any position. She is a great team player who is willing to do what is asked. She is consistently great at defense. She goes about her business as a quiet leader. I have enjoyed watching her grow in our program and have an amazing career.”
VOLLEYBALL: A 2020 academic all-state honoree who was a hitter and a setter. She had 360 kills, 810 digs, 81 ace serves and 27 blocks in her career. “Maret is a great all-around player,” KMS volleyball coach Joquel Moelnaar said. “She has an incredible jump serve that was highly effective … Maret is a student of the game and showed leadership skills beyond her years as she helped younger players position themselves correctly as well as understand why we were doing what we were doing.”
BASKETBALL: A four-year starter who averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game her senior year, finishing with 903 career points and 290 assists. “Maret has played a huge part in our program for four years now,” KMS girls basketball coach Justin Johnson said. “We relied on her heavily on both ends of the floor.”
SOFTBALL: An academic all-state and second-team all-state selection who played in the Class A all-star game, she was the Fighting Saints’ co-MVP. She batted .483 her senior year with nine doubles, three triples, 23 RBI, 47 runs and 18 stolen bases. She finished with a career .461 batting average.
VOLLEYBALL: An outside hitter who was academic all-state and won the team leadership award. “Hard working, embodied selflessness, always making her teammates look better,” volleyball coach Michele Johnson said. “Fantastic teammate! Fantastic leader!”
DANCE TEAM: A four-time all-stater who was named the team’s most outstanding dancer participating as a two-time state team entrant. “Strong leader, extremely skilled, strong physically,” said dance team coach Tana Ziesmer.
TRACK: A five-time all-conference member in track (it likely would have been six had there been a 2020 season) who earned all-state honors three years, competing in the 400- and 800-meter runs, the high jump and triple and the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x0800 relay teams. “Kristen is a talented, hard-working, versatile athlete,” girls track coach Jennifer Johnsrud said. “Kristen was a four-event athlete and was a big part of our team’s success.”
VOLLEYBALL: A three-year starter who had 84 kills and a .290 hitting percentage her senior year, finishing with 296 career kills and a .271 hitting average. She also had 49 career aces and 226 set assists her senior year. “Emma has a tremendous work ethic and was always willing to do what needed to be done to help the team,” NLS volleyball coach Erin Schoumaker said. “She was extremely versatile and willing to play any position that we needed.”
BASKETBALL: A four-time all-conference selection, the guard/forward averaged 10.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game her senior year, finishing with 1,190 career points, 824 rebounds and 244 assists for a two-time state entrant that went 51-3. “Emma was a leader and always gave her best effort every workout, every practice, every game — for multiple years,” NLS girls basketball coach Mike Dreier said. “She was a hard-nosed competitor that made up for a lack of size with determination, skill and intelligence.”
SOFTBALL: A four-year starter who finished with a .325 career batting average, finishing in the top 10 all-time at NLS for career hits, triples, doubles and RBI. “Emma is a great athlete,” NLS softball coach Mel Bergeson said. “She has used her speed and agility to anchor our defense in the outfield the past four years. She has led our team in outfield assists with six and 15 in her career.”
VOLLEYBALL: An academic all-state selection, the middle hitter was named the Fighting Saints’ best offensive player with 88 kills, 59 digs, 17 blocks and six ace serves her senior season. She wound up with 242 career kills. “2020 was Makenna’s breakout year,” KMS volleyball coach Joquel Molenaar said. “She had mastered her swing, hitting the 10-foot line frequently.”
GYMNASTICS: A four-time all-conference selection, she competed in the all-around and was recognized as an all-state gymnast by the coaches association with a high score of 8.9 on the beam, 8.25 on the bars, 9.1 on the floor and 9.05 on the vault. “Makenna is a gymnast full of grit and determination,” Benson/KMS gymnastics coach Kathy Ahrndt said. “She worked hard in the gym and was a valuable member of our team. She was a true leader and was voted as team captain both yer junior and senior year.”
TRACK: A four-time letterwinner and All-West Central Conference performer for the Benson/KMS track and field team.
VOLLEYBALL: A four-year starter who is third all-time with 647 career kills. She led KMS with 18 service aces, 99 kills, a 90% team hitting percentage and was second in digs and and second in serve-receive average. “Lauren is a highly competitive, determined athlete,” KMS volleyball coach Joquel Moelnar said. “She was a player that I never thought would play in the front row, but lifted weights hard core to end up leading the team in kills and hitting percentages.”
BASKETBALL: A forward who had 213 points, 279 rebounds, 55 assists and 69 steals in her career. “Lauren did not put up huge numbers in basketball, but was a difference-maker on the floor,” KMS girls basketball coach Justin Johnson said. “She was a fantastic rebound that refused to be out-worked.”
SOFTBALL: An honorable-mention all-state performer and co-team MVP who went 15-6 on the mound with a 2.98 ERA. She struck out 89 in 115 innings. She also batted .288 with four doubles, three triples, a home run, 24 RBI, 38 runs and 12 stolen bases.
VOLLEYBALL: An outside/middle hitter headed to the University of North Dakota on a volleyball scholarship, she had 118 kills and a .349 hitting average her senior year, finishing 855 kills in her career. She also had 21 solo blocks and 215 block assists in her career. She was an all-stater in 2020, an all-state honorable mention in 2019 and a two-time West Central Tribune All-Area team member. “Ashlyn has been a dominant force at the net for us the past four years,” NLS volleyball coach Erin Schoumaker said.
GYMNASTICS: An all-state honorable mention 11 times in her career, including all-state honors in the beam in 2018 and all-state HM in the beam, floor and all-around her senior year, placing ninth on the floor in 2021. She was part of a team section championship in 2021 with personal-bests of 9.0 in the vault, 9.2 on the beam, 9.6 on the floor, 8.65 on bars and 35.85 in the all-around. “Ashlyn was a great leader and role model,” NLS gymnastics coach Cindy Jacobson said.
TRACK: She’s the school’s all-time record holder in the triple jump at 36-1 ¾ and has a personal-best of 1:03.0 in the 400 meters, earning all-conference twice in the 4x800 relay. “Very competitive, Ashlyn absolutely hated to lose in whatever events/sport she was in,” said NLS track coach Dan Essler.
VOLLEYBALL: Team MVP, Academic All-State and West Central Tribune honorable-mention all-area, the outside hitter had 154 kills, 132 digs and 25 aces her senior year to finish with 521 kills, 454 digs and 57 aces. “Bailey was an incredible all-around player,” Willmar volleyball coach Tracy Grussing said.
HOCKEY: Finished with 116 career goals and 100 assists, including 31 goals and 19 assists her senior year. “Bailey has been a fierce competitor since the first day she stepped on the ice her seventh grade year,” Willmar girls hockey coach Eric Sentrum said. “She has improved every year both on and off the ice. She is always pushing to be the best she can be. She is an excellent leader both on and off the ice, encouraging her teammates to work hard, be positive and have fun.” She is headed to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to continue her hockey career.
GOLF: A four-year regular on the varsity, she averaged 98.8 shots per round and 102.4 in her career. “Bailey is a team player and leader,” Willmar girls golf co-head coach Bryan Mara said. “She worked hard every day for us. She is such a competitive athlete and expects a lot from herself. As a coach, you love to see this drive in your athletes.”
VOLLEYBALL: A two-time letter winner, she was the Warriors captain from her libero position. She had 77 digs, 11 aces and five assists her senior year. “Emily has a work ethic that is hard to find in girls her age,” BOLD volleyball coach Baylie Kubesh said. “She was a leader on and off the court. She always had an eagerness to learn and grow in her role. Her perseverance is something to admire.”
DANCE TEAM: A four-year letterwinner who won four all-conference awards in high kick and three in jazz, she was a team captain and an all-state dancer. “Emily’s hard-working attitude and determination are a few of her best attributes,” BOLD dance team coach Karen Smith said. “Not only did she work hard to better herself, but also her team. Her leadership skills are some of the best.”
TRACK: A sprinter and long-jumper, she earned All-West Central Conference honorable mention in the 4x100 relay. “Emily has put in a great deal of effort to improve over the year,” BOLD track coach Jen Jahnke said. “She always challenges herself to improve and strives for the best.”
TENNIS: A six-year starter who earned all-conference honors five times, she was on teams that qualified for state four times: consolation champs in 2017; second place in 2018; third place in 2019 and section champs in 2020 but couldn’t advance because of the pandemic. Her career record was 168-31, qualifying for the state doubles tournament in ‘18 and ‘19, where she took second. “The only word I can use to describe this athlete is SPECIAL!” Litchfield tennis coach Matt Draeger said.
HOCKEY: A four-time all-conference selection as a goaltender, she was one of the top five in the state her junior year with a 93% save percentage. She set school records for save percentage, goals-against average and finished second in school history in wins.
SOFTBALL: Voted to play in the Class AA State All-Star Game who earned all-conference honors three times, she wound up her career with a .459 average (119 of 285) with 28 doubles, 19 home runs and 97 RBI. She had a .504 on-base and .795 slugging percentage for her career. “Avery is an extremely talented player,” Litchfield softball coach Luke Braaten said. “She is an offensive weapon (who) can hit for power.”