WIAA Scholar Athlete Award: Girls Biographies Show Commitment to Excellence

A ceremony honoring 32 WIAA Scholar Athletes was held Monday at Wausau. Biographies for the girls are included below.

Watch a recording of the WIAA Scholar Athlete Banquet Presentation HERE

Division 1

Kate Graham, Whitefish Bay High School – 3.90 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Graham has earned nine letters in gymnastics, swimming and diving, soccer, cross country, and track and field. She’s a four-time all-conference team selection in gymnastics, a member of three state champion gymnastic teams and an individual State gymnastics champion.

Post-Graduation Plans
Graham intends to attend UW-Madison.

Essay
The greatest lesson I have learned throughout my high school career is the value of teamwork. Through sports, in particular, I have come to realize that collaborating with others and building teammates up along with yourself is extremely rewarding. From being with four divers to thirty soccer players, I have noticed the importance a team brings to the culture of a sport. As a captain as well, I have learned it is crucial to make sure all players feel comfortable, included and welcomed onto a team. Creating an encouraging environment that embraces collective goals promotes positive attitudes which allow athletes to no longer feel alone and the weight of pressure on their shoulders. Of course, at the end of the day I hope I am proud of myself and the work I have contributed, but what is more important to me is creating the kind of environment which promotes success in others. Teamwork has been invaluable to my success both in athletics and academics. I now know I am much more likely to succeed in future endeavors utilizing these skills. I have no doubt I will use these throughout college and beyond in the health care field. There is a vast amount of collaboration required to take care of patients. It is critical to have trust with co-workers to reach the common goal of healing people.
Kacey Ott, Slinger High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Ott has earned 10 varsity letters. Four of those letters were in cross country where she helped the Owls earn a sectional championship. She was named to the all-conference track and field team and won an individual sectional championship.

Post-Graduation Plans
Ott intends to attend Taylor University

Essay

I have been a three-sport athlete in high school, and cross country by far has been my most rewarding but challenging sport. In this sport everyone gets to compete regardless of their talent level. It is the most all-inclusive and supportive sport that I have been involved with. My teammates have found lifetime friends and the sense of belonging that they have never experienced in other sports. This sport has taught me the value of every individual, to never give up when things get hard, and the importance of being a good teammate. I have gotten great satisfaction in cheering and helping to push my teammates to strive to succeed and reach their own personal goals. The greatest lesson that I have learned through high school academic and athletic experiences is the importance of setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Nothing comes easy in life. I have learned that success is defined not by winning or losing, but what really is important is being a good teammate, putting the team’s needs before your own, and being a positive leader and role model both on and off the court. Being part of a team has taught me leadership skills, accountability, the importance of hard work, the ability to look out for one other, and through teamwork we can achieve our goals. These qualities will help me in my future academic and athletic success as I pursue my dream of becoming a doctor and with my basketball career in college.
Lauren Pansegrau, Middleton High School – 3.89 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Pansegrau is a four-time all-conference selection in cross country and two-time selection in track and field. She won an individual State championship in track and field and is a two-time individual and team cross country state champion.

Post-Graduation Plans
Pansegrau intends to attend the University of Michigan.

Essay
Having the opportunity to participate in high school sports is one I will never take for granted as I have learned many valuable lessons, made numerous unforgettable memories, and was able to improve upon myself. Throughout my years in high school, I was a student-athlete in both Cross Country and Track and Field each year it was offered. I learned how to balance school work with athletics, making sure I was putting my full effort into both activities, but also understanding that school work will always be a priority. With this came learning about time management, motivation, and determination, knowing that you have to work hard to see progress and improvement. I learned how to become a leader and be a role model for my teammates, always being supportive, encouraging, and approachable for others. I was taught how to be resilient and persistent when things got tough. I had to realize that things will not always go your way and the only thing you have control over is your own reaction. I learned about the importance of goal setting and how necessary it is for success in the future. I have enjoyed every moment competing in the Middleton High School uniform and will always be grateful for this opportunity that has allowed me to grow and accomplish everything that I have.
Rebecca Siedenburg, Kettle Moraine High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Siedenburg helped the Lasers basketball team win the Classic Eight Conference title twice, and a State championship her senior year. In volleyball, she’s a two-time all-conference selection and member of a two-time sectional champion team.

Post-Graduation Plans
Undecided

Essay
Throughout my four years of participating in Kettle Moraine athletics and academics, I have learned a number of things that I am grateful for. With the opportunities I have been given, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to build a strong mindset. Balancing school and a single sport can be difficult, but as a multisport athlete with a challenging academic load, I have understood a lot about the importance of mindset. In order to maintain success in both academics and athletics, I have learned to stay positive, motivated, and disciplined. Knowing that my extra effort will pay off, in the end, keeps me motivated and pushes me to work hard for success. Another lesson I have learned for my future is time management. Playing two sports in the same season along with attending classes or clubs such as NHS becomes time-consuming. With this, I have learned to use my time wisely such as in between practices or study halls for homework and completing assignments that I may miss due to traveling. This time is critical to maintaining my grades and thriving both in school and on the court. I am fortunate to have a great support system that helps me when life becomes busy and stressful. Overall, I have learned to keep a positive mindset, work hard and manage my time well. When times get hard, use the support around you to be successful because those are going to be the people continuing to have your back.
Division 2
Hailey Anchor, Wisconsin Dells High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Anchor earned 10 varsity letters and is a three-time all-conference team selection in cross country. In track and field, she has acquired five 1st Team All Conference awards, while helping her team win two conference championships and two sectional titles. Hailey also has two 1st Team All Conference awards in basketball and three conference championships.

Post-Graduation Plans
Anchor intends to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Essay

One of the greatest lessons throughout my high school experience is how to persevere through adversity and loss. Adversity can be as small as losing a game or event, it can mean battling through an injury, or it can be as significant as losing an entire sports season. A number of times in my high school career, I have had to deal with disappointments and tough situations. Each time, I’ve had to find a way to accept what has happened, move on and learn from it. One of these situations was when I lost my entire sophomore year track season because of COVID.  This was really tough to accept, and I was forced to be away from my sport for almost two years. But I refused to let it stop me, or tear me down. While others took time off, I continued to train, so that I would be ready for my next sport season, whenever that might be.

I have also learned from my own kind of adversity in the classroom. From juggling an overwhelming schedule to struggling through difficult classes, I’ve learned that it’s OK if a concept doesn’t come easy. A  bad test grade doesn’t define your whole academic career, just  like one bad game doesn’t define who you are as an athlete. A better definition of who you are is how you work to overcome those losses and setbacks. Facing these adversities have made me not just a better athlete, but a better person overall.

Sophie Moravec, Martin Luther High School – 3.89 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Moravec earned 10 letters and is a three-time all-conference team and conference MVP in cross country. She also helped her cross country team win two conference championships and is a two-time individual track and field conference medalist.

Post-Graduation Plans
Undecided

Essay
While academics and athletics have taught me the importance of balance, teamwork, and responsibility, the main lessons that I will carry with me are power of perseverance and hard work. Coming from a small grade school with limited chances to grow as an individual, I hoped that my high school experience would be an opportunity to push myself athletically and academically, learn my strengths, and shape who I wanted to be. I practiced hard in and out of school and succeeded in making the Varsity teams for cross country, basketball, and track for all four years and qualified for State in cross country and track. In addition to this, it was also important to challenge myself academically as well and, throughout the years, I have found a balance to maintain higher grades while still performing in the sports that I love. While finding this balance was not always easy, pushing myself to persevere and put in the effort needed to reach my goals is a lesson that will be the foundation for everything I do in life. It is currently shaping my outlook and driving my actions as I work through an ACL injury this year, pushing myself every day to regain my strength and perform better than before the injury. My high school experience was truly shaped by athletics and academics and has shown me that working toward a goal, while maintaining an optimistic outlook centered around hard work and perseverance, is a powerful tool for success in life.

Elizabeth Rohl, Prescott High School – 3.84 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Rohl has earned eight varsity letters in golf, basketball and softball. She’s an all-conference team golfer who helped the Cardinals qualify for State three times and win two State championships. She also helped her softball team make it to State twice.

Post-Graduation Plans
Rohl intends to attend UW-River Falls.

Essay
Academics and athletics have been important aspects of my life.  Being a student-athlete has provided me with valuable lessons that have shaped me into who I am. The biggest lessons I have learned are to work hard, be resilient, and be a good teammate. Ever since I was younger, I have always been a hard worker. Hard work in the classroom and in competitions have been a part of my everyday life, and have helped me strive to be my best.  I have also learned that resilience can carry a student-athlete far throughout life. In order to be resilient, you need to be able to roll with all the punches life throws at you, whether it is a tough loss or a bad test score, you need to learn how to bounce back and get better. Along with hard work and resilience being a good teammate is one of the biggest lessons I have learned through being a student-athlete. You won’t remember all the final scores, all the wins and losses, you will remember your teammates, and the memories you make along the journey of athletics. Being a good teammate and leader can take athletes to the next level. If there is one thing that will stick with me throughout the rest of my life, it is this one thing; it does no matter how good you are how many minutes you get, players can leave an impact on their team on and off the court.
Lexi Weier, Mount Horeb High School – 3.94 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Weier has earned nine letters in gymnastics, volleyball, and track and field. She is an individual State qualifier in gymnastics and helped the Vikings make it to State gymnastics competition four times, win a State championship once and win three conference titles.

Post-Graduation Plans
Weier intends to attend UW-Whitewater.

Essay
Being a student-athlete, I have learned many valuable and key lessons during my high school career that have helped to shape me into the person I am today. Setting goals for myself, having a positive mindset, and valuing my community have helped me to succeed in the classroom and in athletics. By setting goals for myself, I learned self-motivation. When I have a target that I am trying to achieve, whether it is getting an A in a class or reaching a certain score in the competition, it motivates me to keep working hard towards that goal. Sometimes the path to reaching your goals is not perfect and there will be times when you encounter roadblocks. How you handle those moments shows your true character. I have learned how to handle victory with pride and modesty and accept defeat with dignity. I have also had to cope with disappointments. Through the disappointment of not reaching a goal, I learned to keep my chin up and continued to work through challenges with a positive mindset. By maintaining a positive attitude you can determine the outcome of any situation. This has helped me to perform under pressure whether it is hitting a routine at a state tournament or making the game-breaking serve. Being a team captain for the last two years, I encourage those around me and am driven to make a difference in people’s lives. My positive energy in and out of the gym helps my team to succeed. The way you treat people will be remembered more than anything you accomplish. I have also learned to appreciate those who have been a part of my high school career. Without my family, coaches, teachers, and teammates. I would never have become a successful student-athlete. Being a small-town athlete is very rewarding as you can engage with alumni and community members who come and watch your games or meets. It’s fulfilling to notice the excitement in a little first grader’s eyes as they ask you to sign a poster. This has allowed me to see that high school sports are more than just showing up and playing in a game or competing in a meet. It is about important life lessons and being a part of a community. These lessons will guide me in my academic and athletic career in college and into my adult life.

 

Division 3
Bridee Burks, Lancaster High School – 3.52 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Burks earned eleven letters and is a six-time Southwest Wisconsin all-conference selection. She helped the Flying Arrows win two team State cross country championships and she won an individual state track and field championship her junior year.

Post-Graduation Plans
Burks intends to attend Idaho State University.

Essay
While participating in athletic and academic activities I have learned how the mental challenge often overpowers the physical challenge. I have learned how to push through mental blocks and overcome adversity. Many things are out of your control such as other players, injuries, COVID-19, and or weather. The two things we can control are our preparation and our attitudes. Facing mental challenges is something I had to overcome in athletics and academics. When faced with a tough matchup I would experience self-doubt and a lack of confidence. In the classroom, if there was a concept I was not understanding I would feel a failure. If I prepared myself for the situation and changed my outlook and attitude, I would succeed no matter the outcome. I had to learn to measure success differently. I have the physical abilities to be successful, I was only lacking the mental. When I started to change how I prepared and altered my attitude, the challenge ahead became less intimidating. This is something I try to pass on to others. I believe that I have become a role model for my younger classmates as I have kept my nose clean and remained devoted to the task ahead. By doing so I have become a leader in athletics and academics. I believe that these skills of positive attitudes and preparation have shown my teammates and classmates that staying driven to be the best pays off.
Jada Eggebrecht, Phillips High School – 3.99 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Eggebrecht has earned ten varsity letters and eight All-Marawood Conference first-team selections. Her team won a softball sectional championship and she helped the Loggers volleyball team win a conference championship.

Post-Graduation Plans
Eggebrecht intends to attend St. Cloud State University.

Essay
Being a student athlete comes with many responsibilities on and off the court or field. Not only are you expected to perform in front of crowds, but also in the classroom. Through my years of taking on this task, I have learned one extremely important and essential virtue: accountability. After long bus rides and late nights, homework is the last thing on my mind. I realize my academics come first and push myself to get everything done and completed on time. Keeping my grades up forces me into a schedule. Practice, homework, and bed have become my nightly routine. I must hold myself to this schedule if I want to be successful. This is accountability, similarly to showing up for your team night and night again. You can not skip practices or games just like you can not skip assignments or quizzes. It all works together. Your team holds you to a standard just as your teachers do. Your brain and body must work as one cohesive unit academically and athletically. Accountability ensures these two work together. Holding one another to a specific standard creates a level of respect and dependability. Just as I would not want to let my team down by failing to show and perform in my role, I do not want to let myself down by slipping in the classroom. Being accountable to yourself and those around you produces a recipe for success in all aspects of your life.
Alexis Slater, Grantsburg High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Slater has earned nine varsity letters in cross country, basketball, and track and field. She ranks first in her class, won an individual sectional championship in track and field, and helped her team win a Lakeland Conference championship her senior year of cross country.

Post-Graduation Plans
Undecided

Essay
Grantsburg High School fosters an environment that allows students to be multi-faceted. Resultantly, I didn’t have to choose my “niche” and was able to pursue all of my interests: academics, performing arts and athletics. While I excel academically, it also caused me the most stress because I want perfect grades. Learning how to manage that stress has been one of my biggest lessons in high school. To counter that stress, theater became vital. After a stressful day of tests, quizzes and sports practice, it is so refreshing to feel like I am able to “step-into” someone else’s life and tell their story and a chance to let go. I that acting is one aspect of my life that doesn’t need to be perfect.Athletics has meant the world to me and not only because I had the opportunity to compete and qualify for State Track and Cross Country meets in multiple years; but more importantly it taught me the importance of being part of a team as a captain or as a member of relay teams. Being physically active after a long academic day creates a health balance in my life and lifelong friendships that I may not otherwise had.These opportunities provided the greatest lessons of having a work/life balance that allows me to enjoy the moment, let go of perfectionism through creative outlets and how to be part of a team. They are invaluable lessons that will stay with me throughout my adult life.
Ryann Wagner, Gillett High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Wagner has earned 11 varsity letters in cross country, basketball, and track and field. Her cross country team won two team sectional championships, and she is a six-time All-Marinette & Oconto Conference selection in cross country and track and field.

Post-Graduation Plans
Wagner intends to attend UW-Eau Claire.

Essay
A student-athlete must have good time management, organization, adaptability and a strong work ethic. In order to be successful, I need to be organized while having good time management. I will use time management in my future, as I will have a career, family and responsibilities in my community. Athletics and academics have also taught me to become adaptable. In August, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This could have been devastating, but I looked at this as a new opportunity. I could not compete, I was able to be a part of the teams in a new way. This experience will prepare me for my future, as anything can be thrown your way at any time.  If you are adaptable, those situations will be an opportunity instead of a downfall.  The last major lesson that my academic and athletic careers have taught me is the importance of hard work. With high standards for myself, this means hard work in athletics, but more importantly in my academics.  My strong work ethic has helped me tremendously through my injury. I understand that my recovery is up to me.  These skills that I have learned will carry on as a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Here, I will be majoring in actuarial science while also being a part of the track and cross country teams. I will use the skills and lessons that I have gained from my academic and athletic experiences to accomplish my future goals.

Division 4
Ella Chambers, Mineral Point High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Chambers has earned 10 letters in basketball, volleyball and softball. The three-time, all-conference basketball player from the Southwest Wisconsin Activities Conference, led her team win a State championship her senior year.

Post-Graduation Plans
Chambers intends to attend the University of Alabama.

Essay
I have participated in several clubs, athletics, and other activities in my four years of high school. The lessons they have taught me will be invaluable for my future. The first lesson that academics and athletics have taught me is how to have a strong work ethic. Achieving great things takes hard work; nothing is handed to you. To understand a concept to the best of their ability, students need to put in the work and extra practice to fully grasp what they are learning. If players want to win a championship with their team, they need to put in time outside of practice to improve their game. To get far in life, people need to go above and beyond what anyone expects of them by working their hardest. Other important lessons I have learned are persistence and determination. School and sports are full of ups and downs, but so is life. If someone fails a test or loses a game, it is important that they learn, grow, and persevere. When life is challenging, be the river and not the rock and find your way through. When times are tough, perseverance is an important quality to have. A final lesson I have learned is balance. I have learned to juggle school, athletics, extracurricular activities, and a job; each role is different but equally important. Balancing all aspects of my life is essential to having a happy future. I am grateful to have all of these skills for my future.

Anelise Egge, Kickapoo High School – 3.98 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Egge is an eight-time letter winner in cross country, track and field, and basketball. In cross country, she earned four Ridge & Valley all-conference team titles, four conference MVP awards and four individual conference championships.

Post-Graduation Plans
Egge intends to attend UW-Milwaukee.

Essay
Throughout high school, I have learned many valuable lessons from my academic and athletic experiences. Whether I learned these lessons from a teacher, coach, teammate, or a personal experience, they all hold great meaning to me. Not only have these lessons shaped me into the person I am, but they have also prepared me for my future. One lesson that I hold close to me is one that my coach taught me. This lesson is to stay positive. This may be easier said than done, but once you learn how to change your mindset, you will find much more success in everything. My coach actually told me to envision how I wanted my race to go before I stepped on the starting line. This allowed me to see myself succeed, moreover putting me in a mindset to actually succeed. This lesson made me a better athlete and person. Another lesson that I remind myself of everyday is to keep showing up. This goes for all parts of my life. Keep showing up to your sport. Keep showing up to your job. Keep showing up to that 6 a.m. workout. No matter how much I didn’t want to, I always showed up to these things. This was not easy, but it was worth it in the end. I truly believe that I would not be a four-time conference champion and a six-time State medalist in cross country and track without my dedication.
Elizabeth Krawze, Laona High School – 4.00 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Krawze is a four-time Northern Lakes all-conference volleyball player and two-time conference MVP. In basketball, she earned all-conference team honors after leading the Rebels to a conference championship as a senior.

Post-Graduation Plans
Krawze intends to attend UW-Eau Claire.

Essay
Academics and athletics have been a huge role in my life. I have been involved in athletics for as long as I can remember. However, it was just recently that I started to gain an appreciation for the lessons that come from being a student-athlete. I think the title “student-athlete” can be misunderstood. Many forget that the true meaning is being involved in both academics and athletics. Because of the great opportunities high school has given me, I have nothing but a full heart for being a student-athlete. The greatest lesson I have learned through my athletic career is to live in the moment. I think as a high school athlete there is constantly immense pressure to win or play your best. However, for me, moving past that pressure and truly living in the moment, has given me the greatest of memories. Even from an academic standpoint, I think it is such a reward to achieve academic excellence. While achieving such high standards, I find it important to live in the moment. Even in the low points as a student-athlete, I think it is just as important to understand where you are at. Without the lowest moments, the higher joys would not feel as memorable. As I move forward into another chapter of my life, I hope to carry the same mindset of living in the moment. The greatest lesson I have learned from being a student-athlete is to appreciate the hardships while still enjoying the road. I am extremely blessed to have been given the opportunities high school has offered me. I have loved every minute of being a student-athlete because it constantly pushed me to reach my full potential. Leaving high school, I will have great memories from simply living in the moment.
Kayci Martensen, Benton High School – 3.86 GPA

Athletics Snapshot
Martensen has earned seven letters in cross country, track and field, and basketball. She’s a three-time individual State champion in cross country and also won two individual State championships in track and field.

Post-Graduation Plans
Martensen intends to attend Iowa State University.

Essay
My high school academic and athletic experiences have helped me and will continue to help me in many ways. Benton High School has done an amazing job at teaching me how to balance being a student-athlete as well as being involved in other extracurricular activities. It’s hard to be successful when you are trying your best to put all of your time and effort into both academics and athletics. These things can be very overwhelming and stressful at times, but I have learned to get through the hard times by remembering my goals. Through academics and athletics, I have become more organized and have become more efficient with time management. Another lesson that will be useful in the future is that all parts of a team matter, and that it is more fun to accomplish something when everyone is positive and supportive while working together. My academic and athletic experiences have also taught me that hard work pays off. All of the late nights studying or finishing homework after practices and meets, and even going the extra mile during the off-season’s was all worth it. Through athletics I have learned how to be a humble competitor and that sometimes you have to mess up or fail before you can improve. I think one of the most important lessons being a dedicated student-athlete has taught me, is to strive to be the best version of myself in everything that I do.

Watch a recording of the WIAA Scholar Athlete Banquet Presentation HERE

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]