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Plenty of talent in Sarpy County as winter sport season nears
Winter sports preview

Plenty of talent in Sarpy County as winter sport season nears

Papillion La Vista High School

Girls Basketball

Cody Trofholz, head coach said he is looking forward to building off of a 14-9 in the 2020-21 season.

One of the key pieces for the Papio team figures to be senior Caitlyn Ryan.

“She’s been on our varsity team since she was a freshman, she led us in just about every statistical category last year as a junior,” Trofholz said.

The only two categories Ryan did not lead the team in were points per game, in which she was second.

Trofholz said another player that will contribute to the team is senior Brooklynn Wrice.

Wrice is a returning point guard for the Monarchs and has been in the program since her freshman year.

“She’s our floor general, she communicates and is kind of our vocal leader, so we are expecting big things out of her as well,” Trofholz said.

Trofholz said he wants his team to play up-temp and fast.

“We want to get as many fast break opportunities as we can. We are going to advance the ball up the court if we have someone ahead of, we are going to throw it to them. Our wings are taught to sprint, our five is taught to sprint as hard as they can at the rim,” Trofholz said.

He said the goal of this style of play is to try creating an advantage number wise and to put the pressure on opposing defenses.

The Monarchs’ first home game this year will be against Bellevue West High School on Dec. 10.

Swim and Dive

The Papillion La Vista swim team saw success last year at the state meet.

The boys’ and girls’ teams both finished seventh.

Papio also saw its first state champion crowned since 1994 in Olivia Dendinger in the 200 individual medley.

Head coach Nick Baker said the team did graduate some seniors last year, but the team had a strong junior class that will hit the pool this season as seniors.

Along with Dendinger returning, the girl’s team can also rely on one of the top sprint freestylers in the state — Elizabeth Ford.

The boys will see the return of 5th place state medalist Henry Belik in the 100 backstroke, multiple time state qualifier Daniel Keller and third place state diver Landon Orth.

The swim and dive team will begin their season on Dec. 2 at home in a dual against Lincoln Southeast.

Wrestling

It is hard to preview the season for the Papillion La Vista wrestling team without mentioning senior Nick Hamilton.

Hamilton is a two-time state champion, winning his first title his sophomore year in Iowa and then last year at 152 pounds.

“He elevates everyone around him,” head coach Chris Curry said. “He is a hard work worker, in and out and he knows what he needs to do in the room and he gets it done.”

Also returning this year will be junior Jacob Campbell, who finished sixth in the state last year and will continue to wrestle at 113 pounds this season.

Coleton Haggin, placed fifth last year at 182 pounds and will continue to wrestle that weight this season.

Papillion La Vista’s first wrestling dual of the year will be on Dec. 3 at Elkhorn South High School.

Papillion La Vista South High School

Bowling

In the first year bowling as a NSAA sanctioned sport, the Papillion La Vista South girl’s bowling team took third at the state tournament last year.

Three Papio South girls’ bowlers qualified individually for the tournament and Claire Busch placed third at state.

The Papillion La Vista South bowling team is set to return to the lanes and will have almost every bowler back from last year’s team. Aside from a couple students who chose to move on to other activities.

This year’s team is composed of 25 students.

Head coach Alan Busch said there are seven girls on the team with the rest being boys.

“We only had one boy with any real competition experience and the rest of the boys really stepped up and did quite well,” Busch said.

The boys team just missed out on making it to state tournament and were the first team out after the wildcard.

The Bowling team’s first match of the season will be on Dec. 2 against Papillion La Vista.

Platteview High School

Boys Wrestling

Head coach Dustin Foutch will be entering his ninth-year coaching wrestling.

Foutch said last year Platteview ended up with seven state qualifiers and one state medalist.

Of the seven qualifiers, only one was a senior and the rest will be returning to the team this year. The community should expect to see the returning state medalist senior Aiden Riha at 132 pounds, sophomore Reed Patera at 138 pounds, junior Bryar Nadrchal at 145 pounds and Eliott Steinhoff at 152 pounds.

The expected returners at 126- and 220-pound wrestlers are both expected to miss time with injuries.

Foutch said he thinks all four non-injured state qualifiers from last year are capable of medaling at the state tournament this season.

Platteview will be away at the Blair invitational on Dec. 2 to kick off the season.

Boys Basketball

The Platteview High School boys basketball team went 20-5 last year and made it to the Class B state tournament.

Although the Trojans would lose in the first round, four out of the five starters and five of the six leading scorers will return to the team for the upcoming season.

Head coach Tim Brotzki said the team has talented young kids coming up in the program and the team just needs to develop some depth.

One could argue that they already have that depth at least when it comes to the offensive side of the ball.

Junior Connor Millikan will look to build off his successful sophomore year campaign where he led Platteview in several statistical categories. In the 2020-21 season, Millikan averaged 27 points per game — a figure that put him at the top of Class B and nine rebounds as a six-foot guard.

Junior Alex Draper averaged 10 points per game last season and shot 45% from three-point range.

Senior Michael Wiebelhaus shot around 45% from three-point range in the 2020-21 season.

The defensive stalwart on the team will likely be junior Ezra Stewart.

Brotzki said Stewart is an elite athlete and tough to play against on the preheater.

He said oftentimes team’s strategy is to stop Millikan and that is where Draper and Wiebelhaus will need to take pressure off the team ace.

“I think for us to be successful this year, Connor won’t put up those same numbers. I’m going to have to have the other kids take that scoring load off of him,” Brotzki said.

Platteview’s first home game of the season will be on Dec. 2 against Elkhorn North.

Bellevue West High School

Girls Basketball

The Bellevue West girls basketball team will use the momentum of a 13-9 season last year and improve itself with several starters returning and incoming freshmen.

Head coach Dane Bacon said the team this year will be returning all five of its starts from last year.

“It’s a big advantage early on. We have a lot of kids that know what we want, know what we expect and kind of know what our culture looks like,” Bacon said.

Senior Taryn Wharton, University of Northern Iowa commit, is coming back off from an injury but is primed to end her high school career on a good note. Last year, Wharton averaged 18.4 points per game and named to first team Class A all state and second team Super-State.

Senior Dani Peterson, committed to Morningside University, and will be returning to be the five on the team. Peterson averaged around 11 points per game and seven rebounds last season.

Bacon also pointed to two sophomore guards in sharpshooter Kenzie Melcher, who made 32 three pointers last year, and Omaha Benson transfer Ahnica Russell-Brown.

Senior Grace Schaefer, who was fifth in rebounds for Class A, will look to continue to grab boards by will in the upcoming season.

Bellevue West’s first home game of the year will be on Dec. 11 against Lincoln Pius X.

Bowling

Bowling is in its second year of being an NSAA sanctioned sport and in its short time, Bellevue West has rolled onto the scene.

Last year, the boys bowling team placed third at state, while the girls team placed eighth.

Head coach Phillip Burlingame said the boys team lost two senior bowlers to graduation last year and will have three returners this year.

Bowlers can qualify for the state tournament individually or as a team.

Burlingame said the team would like to increase the number of bowlers who qualify as individuals. Last year the boys team had two individual bowlers.

He said there is high hopes for the girls bowling team.

“We finished eighth last year and we have all returners back, so our expectations and hopes are higher than they were last year,” Burlingame said.

Burlingame said he has three male bowlers, with around a 200-game average, he is hoping qualify individually for state this year: Daniel Lester, Addison Johnson and Nate Centineo.

Burlingame said the team has increased by almost double inside, last year they would have around 15 bowlers.

“We have bowlers that have no experience to bowlers who have been bowling for over 10 years,” Burlingame said.

He said this variety of experience is fun for him to see as a coach.

The Bellevue West girls bowling team will likely be led by Hope Garcia, Karla Diaz, Amaiah Slade, Sarah Breaux and Haley Reagan.

Bowling will start its season on Dec. 2 against Bellevue East at Chop’s Bowling Alley.

Boys Wrestling

This is year four under head coach Curtis Gocke and he says its a year to evaluate the kids in the room that he has coached during his tenure.

This year’s team features past state qualifiers in senior James Keller at 182 pounds, senior Ben Hazel at 220 pounds, junior Grant Moraski at 160 pounds, sophomore Kenneth Bryant at 145 pounds and sophomore Tanner Hosick at 126 pounds.

“We have some good leadership throughout the classes,” Gocke said.

This year in the Bellevue West wrestling room, there are 13 freshmen.

Gocke said while the team tries to be diverse in its move set, that ultimately, they want to stick to the fundamentals.

“We don’t need to know 1,000 moves but maybe we can do four or five really good and have a little bit of variety on top,” Gocke said.

Bellevue West’s first home competition of the year will be the Bellevue West invitational on Dec. 10. Its first home dual of the year will be on Dec. 21 against Millard North.

Bellevue East High School

Girls Basketball

Bellevue East is coming off an 13-11 record in the 2020-21 season.

Head coach Brittany Wilson said all the varsity starters from last year will be returning.

Seniors Riley Jensen and Baylee Egan are both signed to play at the University of Nebraska at Kearney next year.

Also returning is junior Maya Skoff, East’s leading scorer from last year. Skoff averaged 17.2 points per game which put her seventh overall in scoring in Class A.

“She’s also the one always guarding the other team’s best player,” Wilson said.

Wilson said East is one of the top teams in the state when it comes to points allowed.

This defense kept East in several games and gave them chances to win.

Another strength would be the versatility of East’s offense.

“We’ll probably start four kids that are five foot 10 inches to five foot 11 inches. So, a lot of them can play multiple positions and be really interchangeable. So, if we want to play fast and stretch things out, we can, if we want to be more methodical with who we’re playing we can do that,” Wilson said.

Bellevue East’s First home game of the season will be against Grand Island on Dec. 11.

Swim and Dive

The Bellevue East High School team is set to return to the pool this year.

The East team is comprised of both East’s students and Platteview High School students, but all records and performances go under the Chieftain banner.

There will be no returning state qualifiers from last year, but head coach Taylor Schultz said she is hopeful there are some swimmers from this year’s team that will make a good run.

On the boys side, Schultz expects to see senior Nicholas George excel in the 50 and 100 freestyle events during the season.

She said she is looking to build up the girls side of the program this year.

Bellevue East’s first dual of the season will be against Omaha Bryan High School on Dec. 2.

Omaha Bryan

Swim and Dive

Omaha Bryan is looking to build up its roster. Last year, due to the pandemic, there were only three swimmers on the roster.

Head coach Drew Butler said there are three girls with swimming experience and one male swimmer returning from last season.

Right now, the roster size is 11 but Butler said he hopes he will have around 15 kids.

“We are just trying to get kids to patriciate, with the pandemic last year, with so many kids being remote I think we lost an entire grade of kids that were thinking about swimming or going out for it, we got to build that back up,” Butler said.

Bryan will have its first swim meet of the year against Bellevue East High School on Dec. 2 at Bryan Middle School.

Gretna High School

Boys Basketball

The Gretna High School boys basketball team finished with a 12-10 record in the 2020-21 season.

Notable returning varsity starters from last year include: sophomore Landon Porkorski who averaged 13 point per game and three rebounds; sophomore Alex Wilcoxson, who averaged seven points per game and three rebounds; and senior Grant Jansen, who averaged seven points and six rebounds per game.

Head coach Brad Feeken said Jansen will be a welcome presence on the inside.

“He played a little bit as a sophomore, started for us as a junior. He’s a big, strong kid, really smart, plays really hard and uses his body,” Feeken said.

Wilcoxson and Porkorski both started as freshmen.

“The Wilcoxson kid can really shoot it, he’s a good athlete. The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores, so that should really be good for us,” Feeken said.

Feeken said Porkorski can score in a variety of ways and can handle the ball well off the dribble.

All three of these players are above six feet tall.

Feeken said his team will be able to score in a variety of ways.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who really can play basketball. They can do a lot of things, they can dribble, they can pass, they can shoot. This is probably the most well-rounded team I’ve had in a while,” Feeken said.

Gretna’s first home game will be on Dec. 11 against Lincoln East.

Swim and Dive

The Gretna swim and dive team features six returning state qualifying swimmers in sophomores Jacob McKay, Dylan Regan, junior Juliana Anderson, juniors Reese Naylon, senior Lilly Brophy, senior Grace Coufal and senior Zachary Kozak.

Other swimmers that are expected to make an impact this year include freshmen Lauryn Kounovsky, Lily Matya, Isaac Hahn and Alex Hallgren, and sophomore Marcus Rhoades.

Gretna’s first meet of the year will be at Omaha North on Dec. 2.

Bowling

Head coach Sierra Johnson said the bowling team at Gretna made big improvement over the season last year.

“We had moments that did not go as planned or as we would have hoped but it was the first season and I think we still built on our first season,” Johnson said.

Johnson said there were quite a few boy bowlers that graduated last year but that the community should expect to see a lot of the same faces from the girls team.

Johnson said it is too soon to tell which bowlers might make a good run this season.

Johnson certainly has the experience to coach the team. She started to bowl at 3 years old and her farther owns a bowling pro-shop. Johnson bowled in Lincoln Public Schools and went on to bowl at Hastings College.

“It’s something that I find very natural and easy to coach in because I know it so much,” she said.

The Gretna Bowling team will host the OPS invite on Dec. 2 to kick off the action this season.

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