Kietlinski named top boys athlete

Bowler senior excelled in football, basketball, track and field
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

Bowler High School three-sport athlete Emmitt Kietlinski has been named the NEW Media Inc. Boys Athlete of the Year after a memorable senior season.

Kietlinski began the school competing on the Bowler/Gresham 8-player football team before starring for the Bowler basketball team. He then was one of the top boys athletes in the state, and eventually the country, as a track and field athlete this spring.

“Every summer I spent time training for all three sports,” said Kietlinski. “Much of that training was done on my own — throwing footballs at targets in the yard, working on my shot in the driveway or doing jumping drills wherever possible. I also weight trained at home quite a bit and biked as often as possible.”

While the football team struggled to earn wins, it wasn’t because of Kietlinski, who was one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks at the 8-player level this fall.

He made the Central Wisconsin Conference second team as a quarterback and was on the honorable mention list for his play as a defensive back.

Kietlinski completed nearly 64% of his passes while throwing for 1,379 yards across eight games. He tossed 10 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

He also led the team in rushing, going for 496 yards and three more scores. On defense, he picked off three passes.

“Football has always been my favorite sport,” said Kietlinski. “The thing people don’t understand about our football team is that we’ve always had good football players at Bowler, we just don’t have enough of them. So any success I had in football was the result of working with the other good players around me.”

Kietlinski was the Co-Player of the Year in the CWC-North during the basketball season, despite Bowler taking fourth in the conference.

The senior led the Panthers in points per game (15.1), shooting 55% from the floor. All of his points came inside the 3-point line.

Kietlinski also led the team in rebounds per game (8.9). Of his 223 total boards, 69 came on the offensive glass.

He filled out his well-rounded season by averaging 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks a game.

“My basketball skill set has always been built around a soft shooting touch,” said Kietlinski. “Developing that took time, but that 10-foot turnaround shot got better each year due to all the time spent working on it.”

After strong football and basketball seasons, Kietlinski geared up for his track and field season with lofty goals. He also said he gained confidence after each season and was in great shape after lifting weights was a part of the football and basketball practice schedules. The end result was a elite showing during the track and field season.

Kietlinski racked up numerous top finishes during the regular season before taking first in the high jump, long jump and triple jump at the CWC-Small Meet.

He competed in just triple jump and high jump during the postseason, winning regional titles in both events before a sectional high jump title. Kietlinski placed second in the triple jump at sectionals to reach state in both events.

On the first day of state, Kietlinski won the high jump competition after clearing 6 feet, 6 inches. The following day, he placed second in the triple jump after a top leap of 44-9¼.

After graduating, Kietlinski made a trip to the University of Oregon to compete in the Nike Outdoor Nationals. There, he placed second in the high jump after clearing 6-9 and took 23rd in the triple jump with a top mark of 42-2¼.

“A lot of time working on my technique really helped me in track and field,” said Kietlinski. “Working my core more and building on new stretching exercises also played an important part in my success.

“When I first started high jumping as a sophomore, people laughed at my horrible form going over the bar. This year at the Nike Nationals, several other competitors were asking me what drills I do to get such good form. What a difference after two years of training.”

At this point, Kietlinski is not committed to a college program, but he hopes to compete in college track and field meets as an unattached athlete at the very least in the coming years. He said he’d scratch his competitive itch by competing in things like disc golf and bowling, and he also hopes to help coach both football and track and field.

He had several people to thank for helping him become the elite athlete he is today.

“I have had many excellent coaches throughout my sports journey,” said Kietlinski. “I have also seen tremendous support from my family, girlfriend, community and school. Lastly, without my dad teaching strong sports fundamentals I would not have been the athlete I am today.”

Honorable mentions

There were several other boys multi-sport standouts across the area this school year.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood’s David Gauderman excelled on the football field and wrestling mat, while also playing baseball this spring. He made the CWC-Large first team on both sides of the football, along with being tabbed the Co-Offensive Player of the Year, and then placed second in his weight class at the state wrestling meet.

Mason Meverden was another Witt-Birn athlete who played three sports at a high level. Meverden ran cross-country in the fall before making the all-conference second team as a basketball player. He made the all-conference first team as a baseball player.

Sticking in the CWC-East, Noah Weier served as a leader for Bonduel this school year. He earned all-conference honors at two football positions, landed on the CWC-East second team for basketball and was on the first team this baseball season. He also did some golfing for Bonduel’s conference-winning team.

Bonduel’s Ryan Westrich also played four sports this school year. The year began with an all-conference nod in football, continued with another recognition in basketball and then ended with some golf and a state track and field appearance in the shot put.

Menominee Indian’s Isaiah Moss was the cross-country team’s top runner at the CWC Meet. He then was a unanimous pick to the CWC-East basketball first team and honorable mention selection in baseball.

Oconto Falls’ Cole Bozile turned in strong football, wrestling and baseball seasons this year. He made the Northwoods Conference first team on defense during the fall, placed fourth at the state wrestling tournament and then landed on the North Eastern Conference second team this spring.

Gillett’s Jesse DeBauch began his year by being named the first team quarterback in the Peninsula Conference. He then made the Marinette & Oconto Conference second team during the basketball season before helping the Gillett/Suring baseball team this spring.

Shawano’s Michael Metcalf-Grassman earned double all-conference honors in the Bay Conference during the football season before being tabbed the Co-Player of the Year in the Bay for basketball. He capped a strong year with a second team honor in baseball.

Gillett’s Alex Peterson was one of the top distance runners in the area and state. He placed eighth at the state cross-country meet in the fall and then was part of three top-five finishes at the state track meet this spring.