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WIAA announces winter sportsmanship awards

04/02/2024, 9:30am CDT
By WIAA

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, in cooperation with Rural Mutual Insurance, has chosen the recipients of the team Sportsmanship Awards for the 2024 winter State Tournaments.

The winners of the prestigious sportsmanship recognition are Lakeside Lutheran in boys basketball, Cuba City in girls basketball, Cumberland in team wrestling, West Bend West in gymnastics, the Sun Prairie West Co-op in girls hockey and Tomahawk in boys hockey.

Lakeside Lutheran returned to the tournament field in boys basketball for the second straight season, and the sportsmanship demonstrated by the players, coaches and school community earned the Warriors the Sportsmanship Award. As the #2 seed in the Division 3 bracket, they finished runner-up after falling 65-54 to top-seeded St. Thomas More in the championship game. They defeated previously undefeated Kiel 57-55 to advance to the final. It’s the first time Lakeside Lutheran has been selected as recipient of the award in boys basketball and its second overall. The Warriors also received the award in girls volleyball in 2021. The schools receiving honorable mention are Aquinas, Kiel, Neenah and West Salem. 

The award winner in girls basketball is Cuba City following the Cubans’ runner-up finish in the State Tournament. As the #3 seed, they defeated second-seeded McDonell Catholic 48-45 in the Division 4 semifinals to advance to the championship game. The Cubans lost to top-seeded and defending-champion Laconia 47-43 in the final. The team and community was determined to have exhibited the best sportsmanship throughout the tournament. It’s the eighth time Cuba City has received the sportsmanship award and the first time in girls basketball. The previous recognitions were awarded in gymnastics as a co-op in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009, and in girls volleyball in 2003, 2007 and 2009. The schools receiving honorable mention are Clear Lake, Franklin, West Salem and Xavier.

Cumberland was named as the recipient of the award following its appearance in the State Team Wrestling Tournament. The Beavers’ enthusiastic fan support and sportsmanship efforts by coaches and participants were on display in their 50-21 Division 3 semifinal loss to Fennimore, which advanced and won its third straight title. It’s the first time Cumberland has won the award overall. Honorable mention for the award was extended to Arrowhead, Menomonie, Prairie du Chien and St. Croix Falls.

The sportsmanship evaluations and staff observations at the State Gymnastics Championships led to the selection of West Bend West as the Sportsmanship Award winner for 2024. It’s the first time the Spartans have been bestowed the honor in any sport. West Bend West displayed positive enthusiasm and finished eighth in Division 1 at the team championships. Also receiving consideration for the award were Ashland/Drummond/Mellen, Hartford and Chippewa Falls/McDonell Catholic. 

The Sun Prairie West Co-op, consisting of six schools, including Sun Prairie West, Sun Prairie East, DeForest, Madison East, Madison La Follette and Waunakee, won the award in girls hockey. The Cap City Cougars, the #4 seed in the State Tournament, fell to top-seeded and eventual-champion D.C. Everest Co-op 4-1 in the semifinals. The Co-op claims its first sportsmanship award recognition. The River Falls Co-op received honorable mention.

It’s the first time the Sportsmanship Award has been presented in boys hockey since 2021, and it’s the first time Tomahawk has earned the recognition in any sport. As the fourth seed, the Hatchets’ modeled sportsmanship both on and off the ice at the State Tournament before, during and following their 8-4 loss to top-seeded New Richmond in the Division 2 semifinals. The River Falls Co-op received honorable mention.

The WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award is presented to one school and community in each of the State team tournaments that exhibits exemplary sportsmanship. The award recipients are determined by the sportsmanship displayed by athletes, coaches, cheer and support groups, mascots, bands and spectators. Additional consideration is given for the effort of school administrators and chaperones to ensure support for their teams are positive and that the highest ideals of sportsmanship are showcased. Award winners receive a trophy and banner in recognition of the honor. Schools receiving honorable mention are acknowledged with a certificate of recognition. 

The selection process includes contributions and evaluations from contest officials, tournament management, police and security personnel, crowd control and ushers, WIAA staff members, area hotels and restaurants. Rural Mutual Insurance has been a sponsor of this award since 1965, and their partnership contributes to the promotion of sportsmanship in education-based athletics as a valued corporate partner of the WIAA.

The WIAA, as defined by its Constitution, is a voluntary, unincorporated, and nonprofit organization. The membership oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 514 senior high schools and 43 junior high/middle level schools in its membership.

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