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Now that we've had a taste of spring and anticipate warmer days ahead, let's take a look back at the 2011-12 winter sports season at Lakeland.
The Lakeland College wrestling team wrapped up its season with a share of its fifth straight Northern Wrestling Association Tournament team title and sent its fifth straight grappler to the NCAA National Tournament.
Junior Ryan Renon, who wrestled at the 165-pound weight class, led the Muskies after becoming just the second wrestler in program history to win a regional title at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Feb. 25 in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Wrightstown, Wis., native just missed becoming an All-American at the NCAA Division III National Wrestling Tournament on March 9 in La Crosse, Wis. He had a tremendous season, marked by a 32-6 record.
Renon won his third consecutive Northern Wrestling Association Title on Feb. 18, placed first at the Muskie Invite on Nov. 12 and the Milwaukee School of Engineering Invite on Dec. 3. His six technical falls this season tied for ninth in the nation, and he was ranked seventh by both d3wrestle.com and the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Brute - Adidas Individual Ranking.
Senior Robby Frias also posted an outstanding season with a fifth-place finish at Regionals and a 33-15 record. The Oak Lawn, Ill., native capped off a prolific career by winning his third NWA title at 149 and being named a National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III academic All-American. Frias was named the NWA's Outstanding Wrestler of the Year, which marked the second-straight year a Lakeland grappler won the award.
The Muskies' season was also highlighted by several top finishers at the NWA Tournament. Freshman David Galarno (New Holstein) won his first NWA Title at 174 and turned heads when he recorded six straight pin falls in just one day. Senior Miguel Luis (Oak Lawn, Ill.), sophomore Grant Franson (Lindenhurst, Ill.) and freshmen Juan Diaz (Park Ridge, Ill.) and Vince Cardarelle (Saukville) finished second at 157, 125, 141 and 184, respectively.
The Lakeland College men's basketball team had one of its best seasons under fourth-year head coach Aaron Aanonsen.
The Muskies finished 12-4 in the Northern Athletics Conference and tied for second in the North Division with NAC Tournament champion Edgewood College. Lakeland finished with an impressive 21-7 overall record, which tied a school record for wins since becoming an NCAA institution in 1997.
The Muskies ended their season in the NAC Tournament championship game with an 80-72 loss to Edgewood in Madison, Wis. Senior Josh Regal scored a game-high 29 points and helped the team erase an 18-point deficit at halftime, but the Eagles used an 8-0 run in the final minutes to earn the NAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Lakeland's up-tempo and high-scoring offense proved to be a leader in the NAC as well as in the nation. Lakeland's 88.5 points per game average led the NAC and ranked seventh nationally. The Muskies also led the league in assists per game (16.1), turnovers per game (12.0), rebounds per game (37.8), free throw percentage (74.3), 3-point field goal percentage (38.1), 3-point field goals made per game (9.8) and field goals made per game (30.2).
Nationally, Lakeland was tied for sixth in 3-point field goals made per game, eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.35), 21st in turnover margin (+4.6), 28th in free throw percentage, 29th in 3-field goal percentage and 30th in assists per game.
Regal finished a standout four-year career averaging 21.7 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 4.7 assists per game in Lakeland's NAC Tournament run. For his efforts, Regal was named second team All-NAC for the second straight year.
The Suring, Wis., native finished his basketball career with 1,439 career points, which ranks 11th all time, and 521 career assists, which ranks second all time. He led the NAC in assists (172) and steals (66) and posted an impressive 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Coming off a knee injury didn't slow junior Jake Schwarz as the 6-foot-5 forward posted his best season yet. Schwarz led the NAC in scoring with 23.4 points per game, good enough for eighth in the nation. The Sheboygan, Wis., native also led the NAC in rebounds per game (8.9), free throw percentage (86.7) and points (655). Schwarz joined the 1,000-point club when he scored 36 points en route to a 110-79 win over Maranatha Baptist Bible College on Nov. 29. He sits at 1, 578 career points and is on pace to become Lakeland's all-time leading scorer. Schwarz was named first team All-NAC for the second time in his career and was named NAC Player of the Week five times throughout the season.
Sophomore Justin Ward had a breakout season and was a big reason for Lakeland's success. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 16.8 points per game, which ranked third in the league. His 2.5 blocks per game led the NAC and ranked 11th nationally. Ward recorded 70 blocks on the season and was the only sophomore to receive first team All-NAC accolades.
Senior Eric Vandivier represented Lakeland on the All-Sportsmanship team after providing valuable minutes on the court this season. Vandivier appeared in 27 games and started in five, while acting as a sparkplug off the bench. He averaged 3.9 points per game.
With a new head coach and new system, the Muskies got off to a rough start, but finished strong, falling just short of their goals.
Lakeland was 3-4 in its first seven games, before winning 15 of 17 to make a return trip to the Northern Athletics Conference tournament. Lakeland posted a 13-6 record in the NAC and an 18-8 overall mark, which was good for second in the North Division.
Lakeland ended its season with a 56-44 loss in the NAC Tournament quarterfinals to Concordia University Wisconsin, a team they had beaten twice earlier in the season. The Muskies finished the season second in 3-point field goal percentage (32.5) and second in steals per game (10.7).
Senior Becca Tilleman was the team leader, etching her name in the record books with 62 steals and 129 assists. Her steals are the sixth best in school history, while her assists are third. She joins Lynn Holguin as the only two players to ever record 60 or more steals and 125 or more assists in a single season. She finishes her career sixth all-time in assists (285) and second in steals (207). The Green Bay, Wis., native also averaged 5.7 points and four rebounds per game, while leading the nation in assists-to-turnover ratio (2.74). For her efforts, Tillman was voted All-NAC Honorable Mention.
Sophomore Jessica Genke led the team with 12.1 points and nine rebounds per game. The Kiel, Wis., native was a valuable leader on the floor and helped key the turnaround this season. Her 234 rebounds this season is the eighth best mark in a single season. Her 45.9 field-goal percentage was eighth best in the NAC. She also received second team All-NAC honors.
Junior Allison Davis represented the Muskies on the NAC's All-Sportsmanship Team. The Sheboygan, Wis., native averaged 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in limited minutes. She was a strong team leader on and off the court and gave the team the spark they needed off the bench. Davis appeared in 24 games, starting three.