By Robert Whitmire
Seven SPASH senior signed their letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the NCAA division one and two levels next fall with three headed to the University of Wisconsin.
The official signing took place at SPASH Wednesday morning.
Senior forward Joey Hauser looks to finish out his high school career with a fourth WIAA state division title under his belt, then head to Marquette University in the fall where he will join brother Sam on the court. The Golden Eagles, members of the Big East Conference finished last season 19-13 overall and sixth in the conference at 10-8 including a big win over then #1 Villanova.
“Joey has been a major cog on three state championship teams,” said Panther coach Scott Anderson. “We are very excited for Joey and look forward to following his college career.”
Teammate Drew Blair will take his considerable shooting ability to Division 2 Northwest Missouri State in Marysville, Missouri. The Bearcats are the defending NCAA Division 2 National Champions. Blair led the Wisconsin Valley Conference in scoring last season averaging 19.2 points per game. Blair has two WIAA state basketball titles in his back pocket heading into his senior season.
Blair and Hauser were both unanimous first team selections on the 2016-17 All-Conference Team and named Co-Players of the Year in the Wisconsin Valley Conference.
“They will continue to to help lead us this season and then will have great opportunities at wonderful universities in the future,” Anderson added.
Senior Ally Miklesh will her softball talents to Goodman Field and the University of Wisconsin. Miklesh has been on three straight WVC championship teams and the 2016 WIAA State Championship Team.
During her high school career she has been named first team All-Conference, All-District and First Team All-State.
“Ally is going to help the Badgers with all o fthe tools she brings to the softball diamond,” said SPASH Asst. Coach Todd Vanderloop. “She has great speed, can hit for power or lay down a bunt and is an outstanding outfielder.”
Miklesh led the Wisconsin Valley Conference with an On Base Perctage of .577 last season and a batting average of .537. Miklesh joins former Panther standout Brianna Fluguar at Wisconsin.
The Badgers finished sixth in the Big Ten Conference last year at 11-11, 35-17 overall.
“She has been a great teammate and leader at SPASH,” said Vanderloop. “I am confident that all fo the success she has had playing the game will continue for the Badgers.”
Senior Julia Stupar will finish her high school career at the WIAA State Swimming Championships on Saturday, then take her considerable talents back to the UW-Madison Natatorium in the fall as a member of the Wisconsin Badger. This year marks her third appearance at the state meet.
Stupar finished seventh in the 200 free (1:52.89), eighth in the 100 free (52.18) and led off the 200 and 400 free relays at the 2016 WIAA State Meet.
“I am very blessed to be able to swim at UW-Madison,” said Stupar. “I chose Madison because of the amazing swim program partnered with an amazing education. I don’t have to sacrifice swimming or school when going to UW.”
Western Illinois University is the destination for SPASH Swimmer Emily Check. The Leathernecks are members of the Division One Summit League. Emily plans to major in Physical Education and Spanish.
Check has been a state qualifier the past 10 year as part of the Stevens Point Dolphins YMCA club team. A member of the SPASH swim team her freshman and sophomore years, she received a scholar athlete, varsity letter, and All-Conference awards both years.
Maggie Negaard will take the floor as a member of the Drake University Bulldogs next year. Negaard sat out much of last season with an injury but lit up the board with a league leading 23.1 points per game in 2015.
The Division 1 Bulldogs, members of the Missouri Valley Conference finished season atop the conference with a 18-0 record, 28-4 overall.
“I chose Drake because of all the amazing people who are involved with the program,” said Negaard. “I think I will bring a lot of competitiveness, hard work, and creativeness to Drake and I am excited to start this new experience.”
“Wisconsin has always had a great cross country and track and field program,” said senior Liam Belson.
The Belson family has a rich tradition and huge fan base for the Wisconsin Badgers including Liam’s grandpa, a few uncles, aunts, and cousins, all members of the Badger family. Liam will continue that tradition when he steps on campus in the fall.
With an eye toward shoring up their middle distance teams, Badger coaches looked to the top middle distance runners in the state to fill that gap.
“Coach Kennedy saw my consistent improvement and fast times in the 1600, 800, and 400 and has high expectations for me as a Badger,” Belson continued. “Having the ability to say I’m a Badger is something I’ll be proud of for the rest of my life and I’m looking forward to pursing my degree at this prestigious university.”
The group of seven athletes take a combined 3.81 grade point average to the collegiate ranks.