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home : sports : sports Monday, June 29, 2015

11/13/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
The Observer announces its Athletes of the Month
Eli Kaczinski - A sterling cross country career ended with a state medal for Northeast senior Eli Kaczinski. Competing in Fort Dodge for a fourth-straight year, Kaczinski became just the second Rebel boys runner ever to finish in the top-10 when he placed ninth with a time of 16:25. It marked the fourth time this season that Kaczinski had finished under 16:30. The first came at the Midland Invitational as the Rebel won his second meet of the season with a season-best time of 16:09. Nearly a month later, Kaczinski clocked in at 16:18 to win the Marquette Invitational. Two meets after that, Kaczinski crossed the finish line in 16:12 to finish second behind eventual state champion Michael Melchert of Monticello in the first-ever River Valley conference meet. That kicked off a strong finish for Kaczinski, who followed up his high conference finish by winning a district title (helping the Rebel boys win their first-ever district crown in the process) and then ultimately earning his state medal.

Ashley Kruse - Few volleyball teams in the River Valley conference could boast better defense at the net than Northeast, and a big part of that was the play of junior Ashley Kruse. Kruse finished sixth among all players in the North division with 44 blocks, a team-best 27 of which were assisted. The junior provided plenty of offense as well, tying for second on the team with 70 kills, while posting a kill efficiency of .164. One of four Rebels to take part in every set, Kruse had 44 serve successes, served up 14 aces and added 28 digs as well. Kruse had a huge match in the Rebels' conference opener with Bellevue, producing a season-best five blocks, while adding seven kills and seven aces (the latter number was good for second-best among River Valley players for one match).

Mackenzie Kuehn - The vast majority of the Central volleyball team's offense started the same way this fall - with a Mackenzie Kuehn set. Of the Sabers' 658 assists this year, 619 of them came from the Central junior (94 percent), who ranks 15th in class 4A with 7.20 assists per set. Kuehn had a season-best 42 assists against Dyersville Beckman and finished with more than 30 in three other matches this season. Kuehn added 29 kills of her own for the Central offense and posted an attack efficiency of .289. On the defensive end, Kuehn was one of four Sabers to have 100 digs - she finished with 103 - and finished fifth on the team with 13 blocks. Behind the service stripe, Kuehn had 199 serve successes and was third on the team with 31 aces.

Justin Schwennen - A strong ground attack continued to be the calling card for the Central football team in 2013, and Calamus-Wheatland junior Justin Schwennen did his part to help. Right in the middle of the action as the Sabers' center, Schwennen and the rest of the Central offensive line paved the way for 2,840 rushing yards this fall on 465 attempts - meaning ball-carriers averaged over six yards per carry - and 30 touchdowns. In addition, the Sabers passed for 898 yards this season - more than they did in 12 games last year and the program's most yards through the air since 2000. Schwennen also saw time on the defensive line for Central and finished the year with 18 tackles. Half of the stops were solo and Schwennen had four tackles for loss and one assisted sack in his 10 games this season.

Megan Slattery - A breakout season for Calamus-Wheatland junior Megan Slattery finished appropriately on the state's biggest stage when the runner became the first Warrior in nearly a decade to compete in the 1A portion of the state cross country meet. Slattery made the most of her opportunity, too, as she finished 45th in the 127-competitor field. It was the finale of a strong junior campaign that made Slattery a familiar face in the lead pack. After steadily cutting off time (from 17:22 to 17:06 to 16:52) in her first three meets, Slattery made a huge jump and won her first varsity title at the Bellevue Invitational with a then-personal best time of 16:05. Slattery would actually break that mark two other times during the season. The junior broke 16 minutes at the Tri-Rivers meet to post her current best of 15:43 (while also leading the Warriors to a second-place team finish at the meet), and then did it again at the 1A regional meet in Jesup, with her clocking of 15:53 assuring the 10th and final automatic state berth at the meet.

Tyler Stillmunkes - The workhorse of another successful rushing campaign for the Central football team this fall turned out to be senior fullback Tyler Stillmunkes. No Saber carried the ball more times for more yards than the senior, who racked up 141 rushing attempts and finished the year with 833 yards (5.9 yards per carry). Stillmunkes tied for the team-lead with seven rushing touchdowns as well with a season-long score of 36 yards coming in the Sabers' season opener with West Delaware. The Saber helped out in the Central passing game as well, finishing third on the team with nine catches, which went for 146 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Stillmunkes finished the year with 29 tackles with 14 of them being solo and four going for loss (including one sack). Stillmunkes even got in on the act in special teams as he returned four kicks for 49 yards.


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