Editor’s note: Fall Sports Athlete of the Year watch lists are based on several determining factors, including individual/team statistics, noteworthy performances, team impact and conversations with coaches. This list recognizes the current accomplishments of each candidate and is not necessarily a reflection of any player’s overall ability. Daily News wishes health and success to all athletes competing in the Twin Towns Area.
Halle Miller (So.) - Wahpeton Golf
Golf is a gradual game which takes most athletes many years to master. It’s a painstaking process that requires failure after failure. The ups and downs can make or break an aspiring golfer before they reach their full potential.
Consistency on the course was not a problem for Halle Miller in 2022, as the Wahpeton sophomore shot 12 sub-90 rounds on her way to a 14th-place finish at the North Dakota Class A State Tournament. Her learning curve was impressively linear.
Miller entered the season with a strong, but inconsistent driver. She found the fairway at an increasing rate throughout the fall, doubling the drives of others in her group and putting on a show that garnered plenty of slow golf claps. Even when Miller “missed” a shot, she would nearly hit the flag with a long iron, or slam a 270-yard drive just a tad to the right; there were no truly bad shots.
Her highest finish of the season came at the Bois de Sioux Golf Course in Wahpeton, where Miller took fourth in the pouring rain. Each time trouble appeared, she answered with a long, winding putt or a smart play on the approach. Miller never backed down when paired with some of the top golfers in the state, including 2022 State Champion Rose Solberg (Fargo Davies) and weekly top performer Jaya Grube (Grand Forks Red River).
Miller’s steady scores meant so much to Wahpeton in the standings, as the Huskies’ sophomore-heavy roster experienced peaks and valleys along the way. Her leadership amongst that group was light years above her grade level and helped carry her teammates to a memorable weekend in Jamestown for the state tourney.
Defining Moment: It was bitter cold, but Miller navigated the rain-ravaged Bois de Sioux to help Wahpeton score its lowest round (355) since 2014. The sophomore shot an 81 in the face of arguably the worst course conditions of 2022, marking her second-best round.
Abby Johnson (Sr.) - Breckenridge Volleyball - OH
Playing five years of varsity in a strong volleyball program like Breckenridge is unprecedented. The Cowgirls got stronger with each year, as Johnson blossomed into a complete player offensively and defensively. She overcame a hamstring injury midway through the season to post 299 kills and 344 digs, providing the type of power you’d expect from much taller attackers and solidifying the defense with the dig numbers of an experienced libero.
Johnson is the all-time Breckenridge leader in career kills, match aces and career aces. The senior serve-received at 2.03 clip and brought admirable hustle to the floor night after night. Johnson switched to full-length leggings early in the season, allowing her to hit the court for highlight-reel digs and sacrifice her body as the defensive heartbeat of the Cowgirls.
Not seen in the stat sheet was Johnson’s ability to keep younger teammates engaged in the game. Breckenridge was supposed to be rebuilding in 2022, but with mentors like Johnson, the underclassmen pulled their own weight as the Cowgirls won 23 matches. She knew when to keep the mood light and when to erupt with her signature celebration scream that echoed from the rafters of Cowgirl Court.
Defining Moment: Johnson became a three-time Heart O’ Lakes Conference Champion in impressive fashion, scoring 24 kills vs. DGF; one shy of the school record set by Carley Fredericksen in 2017. She added an eye-popping 32 digs to her ledger. The match was the first five-set battle of the year for Breckenridge, territory that didn’t scare Johnson, an experienced starter from the 30-4 state tournament team in 2021.
Addie Twidwell (Sr.) - Breckenridge Volleyball - MH
Twidwell’s numbers may not wow you every game, but her presence above the net certainly will. The six-foot senior not only blocked 89 shots, but she altered countless attacks and allowed the Breckenridge defense to gain positioning. Twidwell tapped into another level come playoff time, tallying 15 kills and four blocks in the opening round to stave off an upset bid by the Underwood Rockets.
The athletic middle hitter was instrumental in a six-game winning streak that ran Breckenridge’s record to 11-2, recording 11 kills in a big conference victory at Barnesville. The Trojans were no slouch, later qualifying for the Minnesota Class 2A State Tournament.
Twidwell’s all-around skills came out during the annual “PINK” game in Wahpeton, when she fooled the Huskies with multiple service aces to the middle of the defense. Wahpeton had no answer for the tall titan, repeatedly watching their kills get returned in a customary blocking display by the Breckenridge centerpiece.
Defining Moment: Twidwell joined Johnson in lifting her team to a third consecutive HOL title. The blocker did so in record-setting fashion, setting a new Cowgirls match record with nine blocks. DGF forced a fifth set, but Twidwell’s crafty attacks helped put the Rebels away and bring Breckenridge a trophy.
Bailee Brommenschenkel (So.) - NDSCS Volleyball - MH
Bailee “Block ‘Em All” Brommenschenkel earned plenty of memorable calls from courtside announcer Brad Shaw on her way to the career blocks record at NDSCS. She posted 14 blocks in a single match, showing the type of dominance it takes to be a finalist for this award. The Ada-Borup, Minnesota, product shined in all three of her seasons with the Wildcats, but 2022 was the encore we all expected.
Brommenschenkel became the second arm of attack, pairing with Stella Raser and Maddie McKinnon to give NDSCS even more parity on offense and upping her kills per set from 1.85 to 2.33. The six-foot middle hitter posted 632 kills and 268 blocks during her storied career, etching her name forever in the fabric of Wildcat volleyball.
In the Region XIII Championship loss to Bismarck State, Brommenschenkel fought to the finish, logging two blocks in the overtime set. It was a reminder to everyone in attendance that winners never quit.
Defining Moment: In a 3-1 road win over St. Cloud Tech, Brommenschenkel exploded for 24.5 points, posting a double-double with 16 kills and 13 blocks. She unlocked her potential following the offensive outburst, scoring double-digit points eight more times down the stretch and helping NDSCS win 22 games.
Stella Raser (So.) - NDSCS Wildcats - OH
There’s something to be said about a player when the other team knows they are coming and still can’t stop them; that’s Raser. The sophomore from Perham, Minnesota, battered the Mon-Dak and Region XIII fields for 276 kills and showed up defensively with 90 blocks.
Raser easily paced the Wildcats with 2.45 kills per set the past two seasons, upping her hitting percentage from .186 to .313 in the process. That type of leap in efficiency, while leading the attack on a championship-caliber team, is exactly the type of improvement and skill set that warrants a top-five spot on this list.
Additionally, Raser posted 17 more digs in seven less matches, joining a strong group of NDSCS freshmen to anchor the defense. She will be remembered as an NJCAA National Tournament Qualifier, a Mon-Dak Conference Champion and a Region XIII Champion. Coming from the HOL ranks, Raser was an excellent example for area high school athletes hoping to play at the next level.
Defining Moment: Raser had to work for every point when nationally-ranked Bismarck State came to Wahpeton. She led NDSCS with a dozen kills, as the Wildcats beat the Mystics, 3-1, helping secure home court advantage for the region playoffs. Raser was up against one of the best blockers and best liberos in the conference, but that didn’t dissuade her from letting it rip 32 times on the outside, softening up the Mystics zone and providing increased opportunities for her teammates to score.