AXTELL — The Axtell boys are riding the wave.
A state track championship in May. A state cross country championship in October. A football playoff game at the end of October.
Winter sports, however, have not been as kind.
Last year’s 13-12 record was the Wildcats’ best mark in three years and with four starters back for a second year under coach Brent Hinrichs, this year could be even better.
“We should have an improved team,” Hinrichs said. “We have several players back from last year’s squad. We finished the season strong, winning our subdistrict and advancing to the sub-state final game.”
The Wildcats lost to Lindsay Holy Family for the right to go to state, but they hope to use that as a launching point for this year.
Back are senior starters Tyler Danburg, Zach Hinrichs and Jacob Wehrner and sophomore Brennan Runge, who started as a freshman.
A full boat of other lettermen return as well — seniors Nic Pearson and Collin Soderquist, juniors Jaron Bergstrom and Dominique White, and sophomores Gavend Cole and Calvin Johnson.
The Axtell wrestling team enjoyed one of its better seasons in recent years under first-year coach Justin Swedburg.
Himself an outstanding wrestler for the Wildcats, Swedburg coached three years at Ord before returning home last year.
The Wildcats will start this year with three returning state qualifiers — senior Dustin Klingsporn, junior Kaleb Senff and sophomore Jacob Fox. Klingsporn and Senff were just one victory from winning medals at state.
Klingsporn already holds three school records including wins in a season with 43 last year. He has 106 career wins and holds the school records for pins and escapes in a season.
Sophomore Quinn Bertrand, junior Joe French and senior Thomas Kirby also lettered for the Wildcats last year.
“We should have some new wrestlers who will have the opportunity to contribute to our team right away. I also expect many of our other wrestlers who didn’t qualify for the state meet last year to take a big step forward and have successful seasons,” Swedburg said. “The majority of our team spent the offseason and summer working on improving their strength and wrestling. If we are able to spread people out into separate weight classes, stay healthy and improve continuously throughout the season, we should field a competitive Class D wrestling team and have an exciting season.”
Four returning starters and seven other letterwinners give the Axtell girls basketball team the foundation to build on improving last year’s 12-14 record.
Third-year coach Alyssa Prososki said teamwork will be the key to success this season.
“We are small in height but we have big hearts and big passion. These girls have worked hard in the offseason and they are hungry for the next level,” Prososki said. “We will be looking to our seniors for leadership but should have a deep bench.”
The returning starters are 5-6 senior point guard Kailey Trampe, 5-6 senior guard/forward Nicole Cederburg, 5-6 senior guard Erica Bertrand and 5-9 guard/forward Jacey Smith.
Other returning letterwinners are 5-7 senior forward Morgan Miller, 5-5 senior guard Hannah French, 5-5 junior guard Abigail Snell, 5-10 junior guard/forward Paige Lindau, 5-7 junior forward Jayden Robinson, 5-3 junior guard Amanda Cline and 5-5 sophomore guard/forward Jessica Bertrand.
Bertrand, Trampe and French were the leading scorers last year. Bertrand was the team’s leading rebounder.
“We will be looking for a quicker game, as we have a full team of athletes that are agile, have speed and experience,” Prososki said. “These girls are on a mission and we can’t wait to see where that mission leads them.”