When it comes to honoring high school athletes in the west central area, it’s the granddaddy of them all.
The Hengstler-Ranweiler Award for males goes back to 1961, making this the 60th year of the prestigious honor. It celebrates three-sport athletes who excel in all three sports. It’s been an anticipated award since ‘61, when Appleton’s Stan Skjei won the inaugural honor.
Collegiate All-Americans and even pro athletes have earned the award over the years. Here’s this year’s finalists, as nominated by area athletic directors with input from area coaches:
Renville County West
FOOTBALL: A three-year starter at wide receiver and defensive back, he made the 9-man all-state team in 2020 as well as being a three-time recipient of the academic excellence award. He had 71 career receptions for 1,410 yards and 19 touchdowns and also had 140 tackles, with one sack, six interceptions and and two fumble recoveries. “Riley is an athlete,” RCW football coach Ryan Hebrink said. “Regardless of what position or sport Riley is playing, he is going to stand out.”
BASKETBALL: The Camden Conference MVP finished his career with 1,635 points, 758 rebounds, 318 assists, 307 steals and 69 blocks. “Riley has been a stat-stuffing machine for his entire career,” RCW boys basketball coach Matt Huhnerkoch said.
TRACK AND BASEBALL: A state participant in the triple jump (with a school-record leap of 41 feet, 8 inches) and long jump (21-0, another school record) as well as a school-record 6-1 in the high jump, he also as a contributor on the baseball team.
CROSS COUNTRY: A six-time letter-winner and two-time all-conference selection, he placed fourth in the section meet his senior year to earn his second straight state meet appearance. He has a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 58 seconds. “Ty was our No. 1 runner the last two year,” NLS cross country coach Disa Daucsavage said. “He worked very hard to make himself one of the top runners in the state.”
WRESTLING: A three-time state entrant who placed third as a senior, second as a junior and sixth as a sophomore, Bisek finished his senior year with a 34-2 record and had a 130-34 career record with 58 pins. “Ty has the ability to score from any position,” NLS wrestling coach Matt Bisek said. “He is super competitive and is always prepared.”
TRACK: He finished third in the 3,200-meter run in the Wright County Conference championships with a personal-best time of 10:27.00. “Ty ran varsity for six years,” NLS track coach Dan Essler said. “He put on many miles throughout the years to be at his best his senior year.”
FOOTBALL: A four-year letterwinner and two-time all-district selection, he was academic all-district, first team all-district, a team captain, voted hardest work and special teams MVP his senior year. He had 75 career catches for 1,137 yards with seven touchdowns at receiver and also had 30 tackles and with two interceptions on defense his senior year. “Issac was a playmaker on both sides of the ball and special teams,” KMS football coach Jason Fernholz said. Will play football at Bethel University in the fall.
BASKETBALL: Team MVP, offensive MVP and academic all-conference selection who had 639 points, 252 rebounds, 143 assists and 123 steals in his career. “Isaac is someone (who) will do everything for your team,” KMS boys basketball coach Matt Fragodt said. “He is very good defensively and a great rebounder.”
BASEBALL: Three-year starter who helped lead KMS to a fourth-place state finish his sophomore season. As a senior, he hit .403 with 10 doubles, three home runs, 26 RBI and 32 runs. He had a .552 on-base and .742 slugging percentage, good for a 1.294 OPS. He also had a 2.33 earned-run average on the mound, holding opponents to a .167 average.
FOOTBALL: A two-year, two-way starter at wide receiver and cornerback who earned academic all-district honors. “Peyton is a long, rangy athlete with good quickness and hands,” Minnesota football coach Jeremy Christensen said. “He is one of the most explosive jumpers I have ever been around. He was our shutdown corner for two years. He is a quiet leader and a high character young man.”
BASKETBALL: A two-year starter aho earned academic all-state honors while being named the team MVP as well as a West Central Tribune all-Area team member. He averaged 15.2 points, 2.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. “Solid athlete with excellent athleticism,” Minnewaska boys basketball coach Phil Johnsrud said.
TRACK: A state high jump champion (6-9) who set section records in the high jump while twice earning all-state honors as well as academic all-state. He also has a 38-10 triple jump. “Peyton was extremely focused and is as technically sound a jump that Minnewaska has ever seen,” Minnewaska boys track coach Dan Timm said.
FOOTBALL: The top wide receiver on the Wolverines, he had 27 receptions for 254 yards and one touchdown in a season that was limited to four games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wound up with 73 career catches for 938 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 31 tackles and one interception on defense. “Brady was a team leader from the moment he stepped out on the practice field,” MACCRAY football coach Cole Christopher said.
BASKETBALL: A 6-foot-1 guard who was a first-team West Central Tribune All-Area pick after averaging 21.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game. “Brady is the best player I have ever coached in 13 seasons working with boys varsity basketball,” MACCRAY boys basketball coach Lucas Post said. Kienitz is headed to Gustavus Adolphus to continue his basketball career.
BASEBALL: He batted .500 mostly from the lead-off spot with 30 runs, 15 RBI, eight doubles, two triples and 17 stolen bases, earning all-conference and all-section honors. “Brady is the type of player that all coaches want to have on their team,” MACCRAY baseball coach Nate Hebrink said. “He makes an impact every time he gets on the field.”
FOOTBALL AND CROSS COUNTRY: In football, he was a captain, team MVP and all-district selection. “He has always been a top-notch leader on the playing surface, in the classroom and in the community!” Montevideo football coach Kyle Goslee said. In cross country, he earned All-West Central Conference honors and was the Thunder Hawks’ top runner despite only participating one season. “Landon has had several hurdles thrown in his path during his high school career. Each time he overcame the challenge with class and a positive spirit,” Montevideo cross country coach David Schimming said.
WRESTLING: An all-conference honorable mention who led the team to a 21-11 season. “When he re-injured his ankle he continued to show his classmates what sportsmanship and team-playing is all about by showing up to all the practices and tournaments cheering for and encouraging every single one of them,” Montevideo wrestling coach Ross Jurgenson said.
BASEBALL: He was a team captain for the Thunder Hawks. “Landen is a high-character kid,” Montevideo baseball coach Tim Epema said. “He outworks any and all athletes. His vibrant energy and enthusiasm is contagious.”
Renville County West
FOOTBALL: A four-year starter who played linebacker and running back, he was on the Tribune’s All-Area first team in 2019 and ‘20 and a two-time defensive district MVp. His career totals include 417 tackles, five sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as well as 1,550 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns and 59 career receptions for 865 yards and three TDs. “Jaden is the best defensive player I have coached,” RCW football coach Ryan Hebrink said.
BASKETBALL: A three-year starter at forward, his career totals include 482 points, 352 rebounds, 174 assists and 91 steals. “Jaden did a lot of things to impact a game that stats do not show,” RCW boys basketball coach Matt Huhnerkoch said.
GOLF: Team MVP for three seasons (2018, ‘19 and ‘21) he averaged 42 on nine holes his senior, taking third in the section and participating in the state tournament. He’s RCW’s first all-conference golfer in 10 years and only the second to make it to state in that time.
FOOTBALL: A three-year starter at offensive tackle and defensive tackle/linebacker, he also pointed. His senior year he had 50 solo and 13 assisted tackles with 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. He was team MVP and East Central South District lineman of the year. “Extremely hard work,” NLS football coach Dan Essler said. “Nick is a very explosive athlete.”
WRESTLING: A five-time letterwinner, he went 34-2 his senior year with 20 pins and finished his career with a 140-40 career record with 82 pins. He was a three-time state entrant, taking fifth his senior and four in 2020. “For a heavyweight wrestler, Nick has the best agility and quickness I have ever coached,” NLS wrestling coach Matt Bisek said.
TRACK: He finished fourth in the shot put and sixth in the discus at the Wright County Conference championships, with personal-bests of 43-11 in the shot and 116-0 in the discus.
FOOTBALL: A three-year letterman who earned academic all-state honors and was named MVP defensive back of the district. As a receiver, he broke school game records for receptions (12) and touchdown receptions (three) and most receiving yards in a season (796). “Tyson is not just a good football player, basketball player and tennis player, he is one of the most intelligent and genuine 17-year-olds I have coached,” Litchfield football coach Jim Jackman said. “He understands the big picture, what his goals are for the future and his wants for himself.”
BASKETBALL: A three-year starter and West Central Tribune All-Area team member who earned academic all-state honors, he led the dragons in assists, rebounds, steals, deflections and was a career 42% 3-point shooter. He averaged 12 points, 4 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 2 steals per game. “He was the greatest leader any kid could be,” Litchfield boys basketball coach Matt Draeger said.
TENNIS: An all-conference and academic all-state selection, he had a career record of 43-4 and was 31-2 his senior season. He and partner Alex Draeger wound up third in the state doubles tournament. “Tyson is a winner in every sense of the word,” Litchfield tennis coach John Carlson said. “He has a strong work ethic and provides leadership to his teammates in an unassuming manner. Tyson is extremely disciplined, is a tenacious competitor and is a joy to coach.”
FOOTBALL: A two-time all-district selection who was the district running back of the year in 2020, he rushed 111 times for 832 yards and 10 TDs. On defense, he had 14 solo and 19 assisted tackles with 1.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. In his career, he was a key player on two state runner-up teams. “Tim has been a force on both sides of the ball over the past four years,” BOLD football coach Derek Flann said. “He was a key part of our defensive line as a freshman and proved to be an immovable object on many occasions.”
WRESTLING: A three-time state meet participant, he was 27-2 with 23 pins his senior year and finished his career with a 127-33 record and 91 pins. “Tim’s wrestling career can be best described in one word, ‘explosive,’” said BOLD wrestling coach Matt Zupke.
BASEBALL: An all-conference first baseman/outfielder, he batted .359 his senior year with four doubles, one home run, 14 runs and 28 RBI with six stolen bases, a .469 on-base percentage and a .918 OPS. “Tim was a multiple-year starter who had a large impact on our team,” said baseball coach Brian Kingery, whose 2019 squad won a state title.
FOOTBALL: A strong receiving threat with his twin brother Abe, Peterson also ran the ball and was a force defensively for the 4-3 Braves. He earned all-district and academic all-district awards, catching 17 passes for 327 yards and having seven kick returns for 210 yards and a TD. He also made 81 tackles. “Ben is a playmaker, a gamer, a perfectionist and is driven,” Benson football coach Adam Foslien said. “His big-play capability was a big asset for our team.”
BASKETBALL: A second-team West Central Tribune All-Area pick who was named team MVP after averaging 19.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He shot 43.8% from the field, including 34.5% on three-pointers, and 81.4% on his free throws, finishing with 1,051 career points. He’s headed to Concordia College in Moorhead to continue his basketball career. “Ben is a very gifted athlete,” Benson boys basketball coach Adam Jensen said. “He took every practice and every game very seriously and was always his biggest critic.”
GOLF: A five-year letter winner and two-time all-conference selection, he helped lead Benson to its first state team tournament in 43 years. He finished 43rd at the state meet and was the team MVP. “The key to this young man’s success in golf is his competitiveness,” Benson golf coach Roger Lindahl said. “He just simply hates to lose.”
FOOTBALL: A senior scholar athlete who made the North Central-White Division All-District first team as well as the district all-academic team. The tight end/linebacker had 16 receptions for 243 yards and one TD as well as 11 tackles, including six solo, with two fumble recoveries. “Jacob did so many little things for our football team that many wouldn’t recognize except for his coaches and teammates,” Willmar football coach Jon Konold said.
BASKETBALL: He was offensive MVP his senior season and most improved his junior season, leading the Cardinals in minutes played both seasons. He averaged 13.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game his senior year. “Jacob is an unbelievable leader and role model on the basketball floor,” Willmar boys basketball coach Matt Williams said. “He guarded the other team’s best player, played point guard and was asked to score for us every night. He did all those things exceptionally well and did it with a humble spirit and a team-first attitude. He is one of a kind.”
TRACK: A team captain, he scored points for two True-Team state championship teams as a shot put and discus thrower. He had a toss of 41-4 in the shot put and 139-1 in the discus, which is 12th all-time at Willmar. “Jacob is a technician who leads by example,” Willmar track coach Mike Bobbe said
FOOTBALL: A team captain and all-district selection, he was the district defensive back of the year in 2020. As a quarterback, he completed 61 of 120 passes for 603 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 303 yards and six TDs, caught four passes for 27 yards and four TDs, made 12 solo and 12 assisted tackles with four interceptions and averaged 34.3 yards per punt. “Derek was a versatile player for us over the past three season,” BOLD football coach Derek Flann said.
BASKETBALL: He’s a three-time all-conference selection headed to St. John’s University to continue his basketball career. A two-time West Central Tribune All-Area pick, he averaged 30.7 points. 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.5 assists per game, shooting 44% from three-point range and 88% from the foul line. He finished with 1,634 career points, 459 rebounds and 253 assists.
GOLF AND BASEBALL: A three-time all-conference selection in golf, he also earned academic all-conference honors three times. A state entrant, he finished sixth overall in scoring average. He played baseball his senior year, batting .256 with two doubles, 10 runs and four RBI with seven stolen bases.
FOOTBALL: A team captain and the district special teams player of the year, he is the Minnesota state record-holder for extra points in a game, season and career. He made 25 of 29 PATs and was 1-for-1 on field goal tries, while also passing and receiving the ball and playing defense. “Braeden was a great kicker for us over a four-year span, but he became a leader on our defense and a versatile part of our offense as a senior,” BOLD football coach Derek Flann said. “Braeden was our guy that knew where everybody had to be on defense and was willing to take on a leadership role.”
BASKETBALL: Averaged 4.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game from his guard position. “Braeden was our emotional leader on the floor his senior year and always brought energy and effort every night,” BOLD boys basketball coach Jake Brustuen said.
BASEBALL: He was the West Central Conference MVP and a two-time all-section player who batted .403 his senior year with seven doubles, a triple, four home runs, 34 runs, 21 RBI and 15 stolen bases. He had a .540 on-base percentage and a 1.215 OPS. “Braeden was one of our top performers these past few years,” BOLD baseball coach Brian Kingery said. “Braeden is a true baseball guy; he loves the game and plays it the right way.”
Aaron Ver Steeg
FOOTBALL: Three-year starter on defense and two-year starter on offense who earned all-district and academic all-district honors. He played free safety, wide receiver, tight end, running back and long snapper in his career. “Aaron is a tremendous all-around athlete,” Minnesota football coach Jeremy Christensen said. “He has been the (quarterback) of our defensive backfield for three years.”
BASKETBALL: A two-time all-conference selection and three-year starter who was the 2021 defender and rebounder of the year, averaging 12.5 poins, 7.9 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal per game. “An outstanding you man and student athlete,” boys basketball coach Phil Johnsrud said.
BASEBALL: The co-most valuable player in the West Central Conference pitched, caught, played shortstop, third base and the outfield. He struck out 58 and allowed seven earned runs in 47 innings, posting a 5-0 record and 1.02 ERA. He also batted nearly .500 (25 of 51) with 19 runs and 15 RBI.