Seniors lead Panthers’ charge

Times Herald Photo by Gerrard Diaz

The Oconto Falls High School volleyball team celebrates beating Waupun in the WIAA Division 2 sectional final Saturday in Seymour.

With standout performances from seniors McKenna Larsen and Carly Lemke, the Oconto Falls High School volleyball team beat Waupun 3-1 in Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 sectional final at Seymour High School to advance to the state tournament.

“I’m ecstatic,” Lemke said. “All the seniors, we said it all year, we wanted to go out with a bang and definitely making it back to state is the way to do it.”

The team’s seniors — Larsen, Lemke, Elizabeth Watzka and Rachael Winter — were all a part of the 2011 team that made it to state.

“It feels awesome to do it with this team and these girls,” Larsen said. “We’ve grown more together as a family this year. I wouldn’t want to end my high school volleyball career any other way.”


Suring tops Gillett for regional championship

The Suring High School volleyball team swept Gillett 3-0 to win a WIAA Division 4 regional championship Saturday in Suring.

Suring, the No. 1 seed, beat second-seeded Gillett 25-11, 26-24, 25-8.

Suring will advance to face Pembine/Goodman in the opening round of the sectionals Thursday in Gillett. No. 2 Pembine/Goodman upset No. 1 Florence on Saturday in five sets.

Suring beat No. 4 Bowler Thursday in three sets, 25-17, 25-16, 25-10.

Gillett topped No. 3 Gresham on Thursday, 19-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-18 to advance to the regional final.

Brianna Lemirande had 16 kills and two blocks in that game. Jessica Anderson had 20 assists, four digs and three kills.

Lisa Schmidt had seven digs and nine aces.


Gillett, Lena cross-country seasons end at sectional

The Lena/STAA high school boys cross-country team finished eighth Saturday at the WIAA Division 3 sectional at Standing Rock Park in Stevens Point.

Bonduel won the sectional crown, followed by Laconia and Brillion .

Lena was led by Evan Beranek, who finished 31st.

Gillett finished ninth, led by Max Zeitler, who finished 14th.

The Gillett girls were led by Rebecca Wolfe, who finished 29th. Lena/STAA’s girls were led by Marisa Slempkes, who finished 70th.



Team: 1. Bonduel (82), 2. Laconia (90), 3. Brillion (91), 4. Saint Mary Central (101), 5. Green Lake/Princeton (141), 6. Lourdes Academy (152), 7. Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran (235), 8. Lena/STAA (266), 9. Gillett (267), 10. Hilbert (294), 11. Oconto (297), 12. Amherst (312), 13. Iola-Scandinavia (322), 14. Wolf River Lutheran (366), 15. Valley Christian (366), 16. Coleman (377), 17. Manawa (418)


Panther boys return to state

For the third time in five years, the Oconto Falls High School boys cross-country team will race at the WIAA state meet.

The Panthers placed second at a Division 2 sectional in Waupaca on Saturday with strong performances from their top five runners.

“This is huge. We’ve worked hard,” Oconto Falls coach Lon Ludemann said. “There’s a lot of kids that have gone through (the program) and set up these other kids. They want to do the same thing somebody else did. … I’m happy for them.”

Sophomore Bailey Wolf will represent the OFHS girls at state for a second time. She finished fifth at the sectional.

The state meet will be held Saturday at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.


The last time the Panthers’ boys team qualified for state was 2011. Four of this year’s top seven runners — seniors James Malcheski and Alex Young, and juniors Mike Friedman and Liam Spillane — were valuable parts of that team, which finished eighth.


Oconto Falls wins regional volleyball title

Photo by Josh Thompson

Oconto Falls High School outside hitter McKenna Larsen drives a ball past Wrightstown defenders during Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 regional championship match in Oconto Falls.

The Oconto Falls High School volleyball team swept both Seymour and Wrightstown to win the WIAA Division 2 regional championship Saturday in Oconto Falls.

After receiving the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, the Panthers took down eighth-seeded Seymour 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 on Thursday.

In Saturday’s regional final, Oconto Falls beat No. 4 Wrightstown 25-15, 25-23, 25-22.

“The match went awesome,” senior setter Elizabeth Watzka said. “We all played really well and we did what we had to do.”

Oconto Falls coach Dawn Larsen said the team is playing its best.

“Right now we’re really gelling,” Larsen said. “We’re really peaking.”

Senior outside hitter McKenna Larsen led both contests, getting 23 kills, 17 assists, 18 digs and two aces against Seymour and logging 24 kills, 15 assists and two digs against Wrightstown.

Fellow senior Carly Lemke had 17 kills against Seymour and 16 kills and four blocks against Wrightstown.


Prep Roundup

Panthers shut out in finale

The Oconto Falls High School football team lost to Seymour 46-0 in a Bay Conference game Friday in Oconto Falls.

The Panthers (0-8, 0-8 Bay) fell behind 39-0 in the first half, but held the Thunder (7-2, 6-2 Bay) to a touchdown in the second half.

Panthers quarterback Samuel Konitzer was four for nine for 55 yards and had two interceptions. Tyler Kowalczyk rushed 12 times for 20 yards.


Eagles blanked in Peshtigo

The Suring High School football team lost to Peshtigo 21-0 in a Marinette & Oconto Conference game Friday in Peshtigo.

The Eagles (3-6, 2-5 M&O) fell behind 7-0 in the first half on a 51-yard touchdown from Peshtigo quarterback Dakota Keller to Jake Romenesko. Peshtigo scored two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter to go up 21-0.


Titans fall to Wausaukee

The Lena/STAA high school football team lost its season finale 46-16 to Wausaukee on Friday in Wausaukee.


Back-to-back conference champs

It’s been nearly 25 months since the Oconto Falls volleyball team has lost a Bay Conference match.

The Panthers entered Saturday’s tournament in Shawano winning their last 27 league games. This year’s seniors, who were sophomores the last time Oconto Falls fell to a Bay team, weren’t going to let the streak be snapped.

Oconto Falls went 4-0 on the day, sweeping each opponent in two games and captured its second straight conference title.

“It’s definitely what we wanted this year,” Panthers senior middle hitter Carly Lemke said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team. It just feels wonderful.”

The back-to-back undefeated championships is quite a feat for Oconto Falls.


Tigers wrap season with win over Laona/Wabeno

Monte Noffke scored four touchdowns and the Gillett Secondary School football team dominated Laona/Wabeno 37-18 in its season finale Friday in Wabeno.

“It was a great way for us to end the season, with a game to build on our confidence for next season,” Gillett coach Rick Kamps said. “Thought our kids did a nice job of taking control of the line of scrimmage and the game after allowing the Rebels to go on a long opening drive.”

The Tigers (4-5, 3-4 Marinette & Oconto) trailed 6-0 after a 10-yard Ryan Brauer run in the first quarter, but Noffke scored twice in the second quarter, on runs of 5 yards and 4 yards.

Leading 16-6, Gillett quarterback Alex Zeitler found Dylan Roberts for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

“Alex continues to get better each week and the sky is the limit with what he will bring to the table next season,” Kamps said.

In the fourth quarter, Noffke reeled off a 64-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 30-6.


Three in a row for Panthers boys

Oconto Falls High School runner Mike Friedman approaches the finish line during the Bay Conference cross-country meet Thursday in Shawano. Friedman finished second and the Panthers boys team took conference title.

Make it three.

The Oconto Falls High School boys cross-country team earned its third consecutive Bay Conference title at the conference meet Thursday in Shawano.

The boys, led by second-place finisher Mike Friedman, finished with 48 points — the lowest score of the season for the Panthers — to lead the eight-team field. Shawano (65) took second and Hortonville (93) took third.

Paced by Friedman clocking in at 16 minutes, 51 seconds, all of the Oconto Falls boys finished in the top 20. Liam Spillane was sixth (17:20) and James Malcheski ninth (17:24).

“The guys behind me have a real good pack and they’ve been improving every single race this year,” Friedman said. “They’ve been working really hard. They’re just a great group of guys and they’re fun to be around.”

Friedman battled Seymour’s Justin Skinkis for most of the race. After keeping even with him through the first mile, Friedman fell behind and finished 14 seconds after Skinkis.


Panthers keep focus, sweep Shawano

Photos by Josh Thompson

Oconto Falls’ Kayla Virtues hits a ball past Shawano defenders during Thursday’s Bay Conference match in Shawano. The Panthers won 3-0.

Dawn Larsen was hoping her players’ focus was on volleyball Thursday night.

With it being homecoming week at Oconto Falls High School and all four of the seniors on the Panthers volleyball team in the homecoming court, the players’ minds might be elsewhere.

The Oconto Falls coach can breathe a little easier knowing her team took care of business, beating host Shawano Community High School, 25-16, 25-10, 25-21.

“Sometimes you just worry about matches like this because of the hype of homecoming,” Larsen said. “I just think they rose to the occasion.”


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