By Becca Neuger
Mound Westonka High School celebrated standout athletes from the 2019 graduating class at the Yost-Haddorff-Leopold Athletic Recognition Breakfast May 9 at the Gillespie Center in Mound. The event recognized this year’s Athena and Yost-Haddorff-Leopold Award nominees and winners, as well as senior three-season athletes, declared college athletes and state tournament participants.
Activities Director Jeff Peterson recognized each athlete in front of a crowd of MWHS students, parents, coaches, staff and alumni. Also in attendance were members of both the Haddorff and Leopold families. Carolyn Leopold and Bob Haddorff provided a history of the memorial award and congratulated the senior athletes on their accomplishments.
Triple ‘A’ Winners
Aidan Maloney and Lauren Kelly were recognized as this year’s school-level Minnesota State High School League Triple “A” winners. The Triple “A” program rewards a senior boy and girl in each high school in Minnesota for outstanding achievement in Academics, Athletics and the Arts.
State Tournament Participants
Peterson recognized 14 seniors who competed at state in the spring 2018, fall 2019 and winter 2019 seasons.
Continuing a long tradition of success, the MWHS jazz dance team competed at state for the 13th consecutive year and broke into the finals, finishing fourth overall—the team’s highest-ever placement. The Hawkettes also earned the Team Academic Award. Seniors competing at state on the jazz team were Lauren Kelly and Eva Cherba. Kelly was named to the Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team and the Academic All-State Dance Team.
The White Hawks girls hockey team completed its most successful season in the history of the program, capped off by a fourth-place finish in the state tournament. Senior team members included Sydney Bowe, Lauren Burris, Sydney Hules, Emily Schepers and Taylor Smith. Starting goalie Smith was runner-up for Let’s Play Hockey Senior Goalie of the Year and was named to the All-State and All-State Academic teams. Burris was named All-State Honorable Mention.
The Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka gymnastics team also headed back to state this year and placed fifth overall. Competing for her fifth time at state was senior captain Teagan Schmidt, who was named to the All-State gymnastics team.
Competing at state as individuals were seniors Andrew Abegglen and Charlie Reinhardt in boys Nordic skiing; and Kris Kurtz, Felipe Mahmoud and Ben Schmalz in wrestling. Additionally, senior Ashley Storm competed at state in girls swimming and earned All-State honors.
Jennifer Schaible represented Westonka at the metro area 47th Annual Athena Awards Banquet in Minneapolis on May 3. Schaible was recognized locally at the senior athletic breakfast for winning both the Athena and Yost-Haddorff-Leopold outstanding female athlete awards. Schaible was a standout athlete on the White Hawks volleyball and basketball teams. The other 2019 Athena candidates were Sydney Bowe, Lauren Burris, Jessica Skelley, Taylor Smith, Ela Springer, Maya Thurston and Madelyn White.
The nominees for the 67th annual outstanding male athlete award, now called the Yost-Haddorff-Leopold Award, were Andrew Abegglen, Sam Dufault, Alex Farwell, Kris Kurtz, Nels Larson, Nico Phommahaxay, Kade Retterath, Ben Schmalz and Joe Woychick.
The award began as the Yost Award in 1953, honoring the late Frank Yost—a local pharmacist and ardent community sports supporter, who died in 1952. In 1994, the award became the Yost-Haddorff-Leopold Award, also honoring the memories of Oscar Haddorff, who died in 1970, a year after retiring as a 25-year MWHS teacher, coach and athletic director; and Cory Leopold, a 1988 MWHS graduate and standout high school and college wrestler, who was killed in a car accident in 1993. The scholarship component was added to the award at that time and is given to the school’s top male and female athletes.
This year’s male Yost-Haddorff-Leopold Award winner, Kris Kurtz, has earned 12 varsity letters among football, wrestling, and track and field. Football head coach Nick David described Kurtz as a “team-first player” who was a great team captain for the White Hawks. Kurtz excelled on the football field and in the classroom throughout his career, earning Academic All-State honors as a senior. He was named to the Twin Cities All-District Team as a running back, linebacker and long snapper the past four seasons and was selected to play in the 2018 Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game.
In wrestling, Kurtz was a three-time section placewinner and two-time state entrant with 74 career wins. Co-head coach Todd Munsterteiger called him “an excellent wrestling captain, being a vocal leader and modeling hard work ethic in the wrestling room.” Kurtz and 2014 graduate Bryan Tierney are the only two MWHS student-athletes who played in the all-state football game and wrestled in the state tournament in their senior years.
Kurtz plans to add to his list of accolades as a member of the White Hawks track and field team this spring. He will continue his academic and football career next year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Declared College Athletes
Athletes who had committed to playing at the collegiate level at the time of the breakfast were recognized:
Andrew Abegglen (Gustavus Adolphus College – soccer)
Eva Cherba (St. Cloud State University – dance)
Nick Drilling (Luther College – track & field)
Sam Dufault (University of St. Thomas – baseball)
Brandon Hokkanen (Itasca Community College – football)
Kris Kurtz (St. Olaf College – football)
Charlie Reinhardt (St. Lawrence University – Nordic skiing)
Jennifer Schaible (University of St. Thomas – basketball)
Taylor Smith (St. Olaf College – hockey)
Ashley Storm (University of South Dakota – swimming)
Also honored at the breakfast were 16 MWHS senior three-season athletes: Andrew Abegglen, Lauren Burris, Jack Dioszeghy, Carsten Doepnerhove, Alex Farwell, Ethan James, Lauren Kelly, Sam Kerr, Kris Kurtz, Kade Retterath, Ela Springer, Shane Stevenson, Maya Thurston, Jasper Treat, Madelyn White and Joe Woychick.