Morris' Schultz wins Hengstler-Ranweiler award
It didn't take long for Morris Benson Area hockey coach Jeff Mahoney to recognize that he had a special talent on his hands in Dani Schultz.
And he didn't mind saying so, once telling an awards banquet crowd that his precocious center would one day outdo her older brother, Tony, a prep star who finished his career with 80 goals and 87 assists.
"I think Dani was a freshman at the time," Mahoney recalled with a chuckle. "But she was that good."
It was no idle boast.
Dani Schultz ended up scoring 256 goals -- yes, you read that right -- and dishing out 151 assists in a varsity career that began in eighth grade and will continue at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Those feats helped her win the Tribune's 2011 Hengstler-Ranweiler Award as the outstanding female athlete in the area.
Schultz was an equal -- if not surpassing -- talent in softball, earning all-conference honors four straight years and Tribune All-Area honors twice (the 2011 all-area team hasn't been selected). She also played volleyball, excelling defensively with 645 career digs, and earned a total of 11 varsity letters.
Even though she racked up gaudy personal statistics on the ice, Schultz is credited with spreading the wealth to other players. Three of her teammates -- Sara Rajewsky, Sam Falk and Kelly Mahoney -- each scored more than 100 points in their careers, suggesting that there was plenty of scoring to go around for the Storm with Schultz on the ice.
"Dani got the puck to everybody," Mahoney said. "Her goals and assists are pretty close. A lot of players who score a lot of goals don't get a lot of assists. But she got everybody involved, which made it hard for teams to shut her down."
Morris Benson Area (a pairing that also includes players from Minnewaska Area) won the Southwest Conference title in Schultz's junior and senior years, but the Storm fell to Alexandria in the section tournament both seasons. The Storm finished 21-4 in 2010-2011 -- with Schultz scoring 74 goals and handing out 44 assists -- their only losses coming to three larger schools (Willmar, Sartell and Alexandria twice).
She earned all-conference honors her junior and senior years after the independent Storm joined the Southwest Conference.
"She was hard-nosed and she has a motor that just won't quit," Mahoney said. "That's her biggest asset -- it just never shuts down."
Schultz said playing hard comes naturally because she loves the game. "It's fun to play and even more fun to get better," she said. "My family helps me out a lot. We go to the rink together and they push me -- but not too hard."
Mary Beth Holmberg, the Morris Area athletics director who has coached the girls' softball team since 1980, ranks Schultz as one of her best players ever and said she would make a great coach.
Asked to recall a big play, Holmberg cited not a hit or a throw but rather an improvisation: Schultz sliding head-first into first base to get beneath an errant throw in a narrow Morris Area win over Benson-Hancock.
"She is so instinctive and anticipates so well," Holmberg said. "She's a thinker and she's a very smart player."
Schultz, a catcher/third baseman, hit .523 with 24 RBIs and 25 runs as a senior as the Tigers made it to the final four of their section, where they were eliminated by losses to New Ulm and Pipestone.
While the section losses brought an end to the season, Schultz participated in the Minnesota High School All-Star Girls Softball Series on June 11 in Mankato, catching three innings in each of three games. It was a fitting addendum to a brilliant prep career.
"She's just a pure athlete," Holmberg said. "When she was in elementary school and junior high, you could see it even then. You just knew that she would be playing varsity at an early age."
Past Female Winners
1979 -- Linda Richards, Buffalo Lake
1980 -- Kris Hanson, Granite Falls
1981 -- Bonnie Henrickson, Willmar
1982 -- Kay Konerza, Lester Prairie
1983 -- Ann Meyer, Sauk Centre
1984 -- Diane DeRoo, Brooten
1985 -- Corinne Anderson, Willmar
1986 -- Michele Marthaler, Brooten
1987 -- Kristin Peterman, New London-Spicer
1988 -- Wendy Adams, Cosmos
1989 -- Kelly Mahlum, DRSH
1990 -- Jill Knisley, Litchfield
1991 -- Darci DuHoux, MACCRAY
1992 -- Kelli Geurtz, MACCRAY
1993 -- Kristina Ervin, MACCRAY and Tonia Nelson, New London-Spicer
1994 -- Susan Semmler, New London-Spicer
1995 -- Carrie Tollefson, Dawson-Boyd
1996 -- Carrie Jacobson, Willmar
1997 -- Chelsea Stiel, Benson
1998 -- Jessica Ackerman, New London-Spicer
1999 -- Becky Moen, Morris
2000 -- Carin Rambow, Litchfield
2001 -- Heather Hyatt, Morris
2002 -- Krista Rambow, Litchfield
2003 -- Grete Peterson, YME
2004 -- Kara Karlsgodt, ACGC and Beth Zimmer, Willmar
2005 -- Alyssa Dahl, Willmar
2006 -- Laura Nielsen, Willmar
2007 -- Nikki Swenson, Dawson-Boyd
2008 -- Megan Groen, RCW
2009 -- Heidi Lensing, BBE and Emily Roelike, BBE
2010 -- Abby Fragodt, Benson
Swenson shined in four sports for Dawson-Boyd
In the summer of 2008, when football practice began on the wind-swept plains of Dawson, quarterback candidate Ryan Swenson had never so much as put on a helmet -- at least not in a real game. Until then, his biggest moments had come in the backyard.
But when Dawson-Boyd kicked off the season against Canby a few weeks later, the slender sophomore found himself under center, a novice quarterback possessing little more than a decent arm, competitive juices and lots of promise.
"I was pretty nervous," Swenson recalled.
You could say things turned out just fine.
Swenson passed for 2,723 yards and 29 touchdowns for Dawson-Boyd in a prep career that will culminate with an appearance in the Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Those exploits helped Swenson win the Tribune's 2011 Hengstler-Ranweiler Award as the outstanding male athlete in the area. Swenson was also a state champion wrestler and finished with a career record of 209-29. And he won a state title in the 4x400-meter relay while finishing runner-up twice in the 800-meter run.
A winner of 18 letters, he'll continue his football career at South Dakota State University.
A quick study
"We knew he was a great athlete and it was obvious from watching him when he was younger that he had talent,'' head football coach Cory Larson recalled. "We felt that he had the skills and competitiveness to (play quarterback)."
They weren't wrong. During Swenson's tenure, the Blackjacks went 24-8 and captured a part of the Little Sioux Conference crown in 2011 -- a season that included a win over archrival and perennial power Minneota.
For Larson, one play will always stick out when he thinks of his prize quarterback: a mad scramble and dash to the end zone that gave Dawson-Boyd an early lead in its regular season win over Adrian last fall.
"It seemed like he made just about every defender miss and the next thing you know he was in the end zone," Larson said. "It was probably a 25-yard run, but he ran 60 or 70 yards just to get there."
As a senior, Swenson completed 82 of 144 passes for 1,352 yards and 14 touchdowns with just five interceptions and rushed for 558 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also intercepted six passes -- he had 15 picks in his career -- and will likely play defensive back in the prep all-star game.
He also hopes to play in the defensive backfield as a walk-on at SDSU. Though just 5-11 ("in cleats," he said) and 160 pounds, Swenson said he believes he can compete at the NCAA Division I school.
"Anybody can play anywhere if they have the ability and the drive to make the team," he said. "I'll do my best and whatever happens, happens. I know I won't leave with any regrets."
Doing it all, plus the chores
Swenson competed in cross country from seventh grade through ninth grade, earning a trip to the Class A state meet as a freshman, before turning his attention to football on the encouragement of friends.
He kept running, however, competing for the track and field team and winning a Class A state title in the 4x400 as a junior. He also helped Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley win the Class A team championship that season. Swenson also holds six school records in track and field, including three in individual events: the 800 (1:56.65); the 1600 (4:22.41); and the 3200 (10:00.12).
(The running may be in his genes; Swenson's older sister, Nikki, won the 2007 Hengstler-Ranweiler Award and now completed cross country and both indoor and outdoor track and field for the University of Minnesota.)
He also stood out in wrestling, earning a Class A state title at 135 pounds as a sophomore. In all, he competed in six state meets, finishing in fourth place both as a ninth grader (at 125 pounds) and as a senior (at 145 pounds).
Oh, and he was the homecoming king.
"He does the chores around the farm, too," Larson said. "But I don't think he minds."
Past Male Winners
1961 -- Stan Skjei, Appleton
1962 -- Bob Bruggers, Danube
1963 -- Gary Lottman, Kerkhoven
1964 -- Dave Mueller, Buffalo Lake
1965 -- Lane Erickson, Willmar and Jeff Hinz, Willmar
1966 -- Paul Kelly, Morris
1967 -- Rob Anderson, Renville
1968 -- Ken Haskamp, Belgrade
1969 -- Steve Dooley, Murdock
1970 -- Russ Livingood, Olivia
1971 -- Brad Rheingans, Appleton
1972 -- Larry Mulder, Renville
1973 -- Loren Beste, Sauk Centre
1974 -- Greg Mulder, Renville
1975 -- Kevin Mulder, Renville
1976 -- Dave Klug, Litchfield
1977 -- Dan Neubauer, Bird Island
1978 -- Tom Stackpool, Glenwood
1979 -- Mike Kingery, Atwater
1980 -- Lee Monson, Atwater
1981 -- Barry Wohler, Bird Island
1982 -- Corey Haaland, Clarkfield
1983 -- Jim Williamson, Appleton
1984 -- Tim Piechowski, Raymond
1985 -- Tom Zenner, Belgrade
1986 -- David Hanson, Montevideo
1987 -- Barry Beck, Appleton
1988 -- Craig Hawley, Benson
1989 -- Tom Hagert, Willmar
1990 -- Scott Wilts, KMS
1991 -- Jeff Nordgaard, Dawson-Boyd
1992 -- Bobby Beck, Lac qui Parle Valley
1993 -- Link Steffen, Granite Falls-Clarkfield
1994 -- Brian Bock, Willmar
1995 -- Jason Jacobs, Olivia
1996 -- Ryan Rettke, Morris
1997 -- Josh Kotelnicki, Litchfield
1998 -- Ken Sather, Dawson-Boyd
1999 -- Eric Rambow, Litchfield
2000 -- Alex Carlson, Litchfield
2001 -- Mike Patten, Litchfield
2002 -- David Blom, ACGC
2003 -- John Carlson, Litchfield
2004 -- Brett Winkelman, Morris
2005 -- Ben Kuznia, BOLD
2006 -- Joey Fragodt, Benson
2007 -- Daniel Fragodt, Benson
2008 -- Tyler Grey, Montevideo
2009 -- Kevin Steinhaus, KMS and Mike Felt, Redwood Falls
2010 -- Joel Bauman, KMS