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Vote: Who should be SBLive’s Nebraska high school athlete of the week (10/16/2023)?

Here are the candidates for SBLive’s Nebraska high school athlete of the week for Oct. 9-15

Here are the candidates for SBLive’s Nebraska high school athlete of the week for Oct. 9-15. Read through the nominees and cast your vote. Voting will conclude Sunday at 11:59 p.m. If you would like to make a nomination in a future week, email

Editor’s Note: Our Athlete of the Week feature and corresponding poll are intended to be fun, and we do not set limits on how many times a fan can vote during the competition. However, we do not allow votes that are generated by script, macro or other automated means. Athletes who receive votes generated by script, macro or other automated means will be disqualified.

Dennis Chapman, Creighton Prep Cross Country

Chapman looks like he’s on his way to a third straight state cross country medal. The Prep senior was 10th as a sophomore and eighth last fall. October 11 in Kearney he took the district title to punch his ticket back to Kearney this week and pick up his fourth win of the season. Chapman had two wins before this fall, both in the Class of the Metro race to start the season. But this year he’s found a new gear as a four-time winner including back at the Class of the Metro Race, his home meet, the Metro Conference Championship and last week in Kearney.

Trey Connell, South Loup Football

South Loup’s dynamic dual-threat quarterback surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the second year in a row and is on pace to set new career highs for a Bobcats team that is riding his leadership to 8-0. In last week’s eight-man win over Anselmo-Merna, he had his second-highest rushing total of the season, accounted for five total touchdowns and was one stop short of 10 tackles. Connell rushed for 157 yards on 17 carries and found the end zone four times. He threw just four passes but completed three of them for 83 yards and another touchdown.

Landen Crowe, Alliance Football

Crow makes this week’s AOTW nominee list despite playing on the losing side because he was just that good. The Bulldogs have been behind in most games this season but Crowe has been a bright spot in the passing game and never more so than on Friday when he put up 375 yards and tossed three touchdowns. He was asked to throw it 65 times and averaged over 11 yards per completion. It was the second time this season he’s thrown for more than 300 yards and the fifth time he’s gone over 200.

Gunnar Foster, Paxton Football

Foster had a pretty good start to the season when he scored two rushing touchdowns in a Week 1 win over Hay Springs. He and the Tigers then went on a three-game losing streak and looked unlikely to make the playoffs. Paxton and Foster are back in the mix after the Tigers put their hopes on his back in the three weeks after. Since that skid, Paxton has gone 3-0 with three straight 100-yard rushing games by Foster including 232 on 24 carries with four scores last week in an eight-man win over Wauneta-Palisade. Foster has scored 15 touchdowns in the last three weeks.

Carter Hohlen, Lincoln Christian Cross Country

Hohlen has been to the state meet every year of high school. He’ll do that again to end his varsity career after winning the district title in Malcolm by a dominant 27 seconds over the next closest competition. Hohlen has been picking up some momentum lately, winning in three of his last four including on the same course in Malcolm on Sept. 19 and the Centennial Conference Championship in Omaha on Oct. 3. He’ll head to the state meet as a back-to-back state medalist looking to improve on seventh as a sophomore and third as a junior.

Blake Macklin, Norris Football

Macklin will appear on an SBLive list for the best running backs in the state later this week. He showed why on Friday during a dominant 49-7 win over Crete that all but ensures the Titans will be playing in the postseason. Macklin was just a few yards away from his first 1,000-yard rushing season before the game and ensured that would happen early and begin a big night. The senior needed just 13 carries to amass 192 yards and four touchdowns. It was good, but for a guy who’s now becoming a 100-yard guy every week, it was just his third-highest total of the season. Even so, it was his most efficient night of the season and included a season-long run of 73 yards.

Cauy Meyer, Loomis Football

Meyer has been pretty special this season as the Loomis sophomore quarterback. He’ll likely go over 1,000 yards both in the passing and running game but it was on the ground in Friday’s eight-man win over Bertrand that showed just how dangerous he is as a runner. Either the gameplan called for Meyer to be a workhorse or that’s just how it played out on a night he carried it 41 times for 202 yards and two scores. It was a new high for him in single-game rushing yards and part of a win that gave the Wolves victories in three of their last four after starting 1-3.

Anthony Rezac, Westside Football

Perhaps the top player in the state, Rezac stepped up to the stage in a battle of No. 1 against No. 2 and kept the Warriors unbeaten. The Westside quarterback not only went 18 for 30 in the passing game with 179 yards and a touchdown, but he was also the most frequent Warrior ball carrier on the ground with 19 carries, 108 yards and another score. It was the eighth time this season Rezac has produced at least one passing and rushing touchdown in the same game. He has over 1,500 yards passing and 20 touchdowns on the season to go with better than 600 rush yards and 11 scores.

Wyatt Urkoski, High Plains Football

Urkoski repeatedly gashed the opposing defense in Friday’s eight-man win over Fullerton. The senior had a new season-high in rushing yards, tied his season-best in touchdowns and set a new career-best rushing total for a single game while surpassing 1,000 yards for the season. Every one of his 29 carries were needed on a night the Storm edged out the Warriors 32-30. Urkoski’s efforts included 236 yards for an average of 8.1 yards per carry and eight touchdowns.

Barrett Wilke, Stanton Football

Wilke continues to roll as the Mustangs quarterback and Stanton improved to 8-0 with one week remaining in the regular season. The junior was already pretty good last year but mostly used his feet to make the offense work. He’s only gotten better in 2023 and is now completing 63% of his passes with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. But Friday in a win over Pender it was his legs again that kept the Mustangs unbeaten. Wilke rushed 16 times for 194 yards and five touchdowns. He now has 22 rushing touchdowns on the year and has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark.

Jordyn Arens, Crofton Cross Country

Arens saw a winning streak end to start the 2023 cross country season. The Crofton senior had won five in a row and was the Class D three-peat state champion when she finished 19th at the Augusta Twilight Meet on Sept. 1. Arens hasn’t finished anywhere but first ever since. She won titles in Norfolk, O’Neill and South Sioux City before coming around the course at Pender as the champion by more than 40 seconds. If anything, that early season setback might be a good sign. Arens has only finished inside the top 10 at Augustan once but won every race after each of the past three years. That might mean a fourth straight state title.

Anna Fitzgerald, Doniphan-Trumbull Cross Country

Fitzgerald will be back in Kearney for the state meet for the third time in three years thanks to a district title last week in Hastings. The Doniphan-Trumbull junior was 18th as a freshman and fourth last year at the biggest race of the season. It looks like she’ll have a chance to win a state title later this week with the momentum she’s been building lately. Fitzgerald’s district championship was her fourth win out of the last five races and gave her a new personal record. She broke 20 minutes for the first time in her varsity career and set that new PR by more than 50 seconds over her previous best.

Alexis Hasse, Ashland-Greenwood Softball

Several members of the Ashland-Greenwood roster enjoyed their stay in Hastings during last week’s state tournament. The Bluejays are on their way to the title game in Omaha and Hasse has been one of those who’s enjoyed the ride with seven RBIs in three games. Hasse’s best performance was going 3 for 4 with a double, home run, four RBIs and two runs scored in a second-round win over St. Cecilia. Four RBIs matched her season-high. Her run of at least one RBI in three straight games also matched her best from earlier in the season.

Lilly Kenning, Milford Cross Country

Kenning was back on top of the district podium last week in Hastings after suffering a Did Not Finish in last year’s event. Lucky for her, Milford qualified for state as a team and earned her another race to extend her season. Kenning took advantage and was the bronze medalist in Class C. She won the district title the year before but had to rely on her teammates to get back to Kearney for the second year in a row. Back at the district meet, she wasn’t going to let herself come up short again. Kenning took the district title by over 17 seconds and won for the fifth time in six races. She now has 14 wins in her career.

Karsyn Leeling, Sidney Volleyball

Leeling has crept into the top five in Nebraska for total kills after a big week that saw her pass 400 for the season. The senior set a new mark for career-best when she posted 62 kills in four matches and had back-to-back matches with more than 20. Leeling was a workhorse for the Red Raiders on Oct. 10 when she put up 25 kills on 68 swings – her second-highest attempt total of the season – then followed it up with 20 more two nights later against Bayard. She has 402 for the season, 1,072 in her career and also has more than 800 career digs.

Nessa McMillen, Blair Softball

Top-seeded Blair waltzed into the Class B state championship final with three dominant wins. McMillen was a big reason why with four hits, six RBIs, three extra-base hits and five runs scored. The Blair senior went 2 for 2 with three runs scored, two driven in and had a home run against Duchesne/Roncalli, followed it up with a 1 for 3 effort, RBI and a double against Hastings then propelled the Bears to the title game in Omaha by going 1 for 3 with three RBIs, a home run and two runs scored in a shutout of Beatrice. Overall, she went 4 for 8 with six RBIs, two bombs and five runs scored in three games.

Carlie Muhlbach, Gretna Softball

Muhlbach almost single-handedly pushed her team into the Class A state softball championship series last week in Hastings. After the Dragons lost in the second round of the tournament, Muhlbach drove Gretna to two straight wins with back-to-back games that included five RBIs. Muhlbach was 3 for 3 with five RBIs and two home runs in a win over Norfolk then pushed five more across the plate and had another homer in a win over Millard North. The Mustangs finally kept her quiet in Game 2 of the semifinals but only by walking her twice and hitting her once. Muhlbach went 6 for 13 in Hastings.

Natalie Perkinson, Omaha Concordia Volleyball

Perkinson is a name that will almost certainly continue to be on this list for a few more years to come. The sophomore setter has taken over the reins of the position for the Mustangs in her first season as a starter and helped guide Concordia to its highest win total in six seasons. Perkinson is in the top 10 in Nebraska in total assists and only climbed up that list last week when she put up 50 in a game against Archbishop Bergan. It was the second time this year she’s had 50 or more assists and the eighth time she’s had 30 or more. Perkinson has 790 on the year and is averaging almost 10 per set.

Kymmia Roberts-Brown, Millard North Softball

Roberts-Brown has been swinging a hot bat at the state tournament for the Mustangs and they find themselves in the championship series this week thanks in large part to her contributions. The Millard North senior came in with three home runs on the season and has almost equaled that mark with two more in Hastings. Roberts-Brown started the state tournament with two runs driven in and a home run against Westside, had another RBI against Papillion-La Vista then helped send Millard North to the title series with another homer and two RBIs in the semifinal win over Gretna.

Gracie Suppes, Papillion-La Vista Cross Country

Suppes has had quite the start to her varsity career but last week was, at least thus far, the high point in what looks to be a bright future. The Papio freshman edged out a teammate for the district title at Pioneers Park in Lincoln and earned her way to the state meet with the biggest win in an already successful season. Suppes won for the third time and the first time in three meets following a victory and a personal record in Fremont.