Soaring to new heights

Three Shawano athletes sign letters of intent to continue athletic careers
Kevin Passon

Passion. Respect. Integrity. Dedication. Excellence.

That’s how Shawano Community High School cross country assistant coach Luke Wojta summed up the four-year careers of seniors Grace Chelberg, Ethan Onesti and Lillian Guenther as they signed their college letters of intent at a May 15 ceremony at the school.

“If you take the first letters of these five key ingredients, they spell out PRIDE,” Wojta said. “Lily, Grace and Ethan have shown Shawano Hawk pride each and every day they have attended Shawano High School.”

Onesti signed up to attend University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and run cross country for the Fighting Phoenix. Guenther committed to the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds to run cross country, as well as track and field. Chelberg will attend Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia) to run cross country and track for the Flames.

Shawano cross country head coach Steve Stomberg coached all three athletes all four high school years but noted they were running together in middle school and elementary school.

“Grace and Lily have similar accomplishments as they ran every day together all through high school,” Stomberg said. “Their freshman year, they were the Bay Conference championship team for the second time in school history.”

Both also received all-conference recognition.

“In 2021, their sophomore year … they ended up taking second place in the sectional and qualifying for the state cross country meet,” he said. “This turned out to be the start of three consecutive years these two girls and our team made it to the state meet.”

In 2022 and 2023, both were part of the team that won the sectional meet and participated at the state meet.

“They are dedicated to their sport and (are) two of the most valuable runners in the history of Shawano girls cross country,” Stomberg said.

He had just as many good things to say about Onesti.

“Ethan has been on the first team all-Bay Conference all four years of his high school career, individual sectional champion his sophomore year and member of the sectional championship team his sophomore year,” Stomberg said.

He was part of the sectional runner-up teams his junior and senior years, and he helped the boys make three straight appearances at state cross country meet.

“Ethan will go down as one of the most valuable runners for the Shawano boys cross country team,” Stomberg said.

Joe Guenther, father of Lillian Guenther, is also coach of the track and field team.

“Ethan got stronger each year as he went through,” Guenther said.

Onesti is the fifth fastest in school history in the boys 800-meter run and 1,600-meter run, seventh fastest in the 3,200-meter run and is part of the 4x800-meter relay team that is also the seventh fastest.

“The other good part that is so cool to see about these guys still running is that nobody hits their potential as a high school athlete,” Guenther said. “That doesn’t happen until their 20s. It’ll be neat to see what they can do.”

Chelberg holds the school record in the girls 1,600 and 800, and she is part of the fastest 4x800 relay team.

She is also part of the second-fastest 4x400 team and is third in the 3,200.

Guenther is the fastest in the 3,200 and is part of the fastest 4x800 relay team. She is also second-fastest in the 1,600 and eighth best in the 800.

Guenther said many believe girls peak in eight or ninth grade and then slow down.

“They (Chelberg and Guenther) help dispel that myth, and if you work hard and work with your body as it changes, you can get faster and stronger and advance to the next level,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”

All three athletes thanked their parents, families, coaches and teammates in helping them succeed.

Following graduation and summer break, the three athletes will embark on their next academic and athletic adventures.

“Always remember, it’s go time,” Wojta said.