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Sunday, December 03, 2023
Alex Rigsby

In her final season at UW, goaltender Alex Rigsby posted 17 wins with a .945 save percentage, despite a mid-season injury.

Top athletes of spring semester 2014

Frank Kaminsky

After the Badgers’ Elite Eight victory over Arizona, one question was on America’s mind: “How do you stop center Frank Kaminsky?”

Answers were pretty sparse at the time, given that the junior center had just lit up one of the most talented front courts in the country with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting and 11 rebounds.

Baskets came from every- where. When Arizona threw a 7-footer at him, Kaminsky rained 3-pointers. An absurdly athletic power forward? Kaminsky threw out some dazzling footwork and outlengthed everyone. Against the Ken Pomeroy ranking’s best defense in the country, Kaminsky scored 44 percent of his team’s points.

The fact that he could do this was not a total surprise, either. In the Badgers’ fourth game of the season, versus a weak mid-major team in North Dakota, Kaminsky threw down 43 points with ruthless efficiency, shooting 16-for-19 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from 3-point range.

That performance made sure every national college basketball fan know there was a center in Madison, he’s got the talent and versatility to dominate defensive game plans and his nickname is Fupps.

By the end of the year, Kaminsky led the team in points per game (13.9), rebounds per game (6.3) and field-goal per- centage (.528). This was pretty good for a guy who averaged 4.2 points per game last year.

He has morphed into a bona fide NBA prospect, but will return to Wisconsin for his senior season, appearing on the preseason-All American lists and giving Badger fans dozens of more chances to chant: “Frank the Tank.”

Alex Rigsby

Heading into her senior season, Alex Rigsby was already one of the most prolific players in the history of Wisconsin women’s hockey.

In her final year in Madison, Rigsby did more than enough to cement her spot in the pantheon of great NCAA goaltenders.

As she has been throughout her entire career, the Badger captain was rock solid between the pipes for UW, posting a 17-7-2 record during the 2013-’14 campaign.

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Her .945 save percentage was second-best in the country, while her 1.32 goals-against average was good enough for third lowest in the nation. She also recorded the fourth most shutouts in the country (seven), despite missing seven games midway through the season with an injury.

Rigsby’s campaign wasn’t just a great season standing alone, it had historical significance as well. With her 92nd win, Rigsby passed Jessie Vetter as the winningest goaltender in school history, but Rigsby didn’t stop there. Rigsby continued to impress in the net the rest of the way, becoming just the third goaltender in NCAA women’s hockey history to record 100 career wins.

In addition, she also owns the program record for both minutes played (7,881:47) and saves (3,126).

While her body of work would be remarkable under any circumstances, the adversity Rigsby had to overcome in her career, including multiple injuries and her mom being diagnosed with breast cancer, makes what she accomplished all the more impressive.

Wisconsin’s season may have ended with a disappoint- ing loss to rival Minnesota in the Frozen Four, but that doesn’t take away from the incredible season and career of Badger legend Alex Rigsby.

Michael Mersch

To say that Michael Mersch was the embodiment of Wisconsin men’s hockey this year would be an understatement.

Mersch, a Hobey Baker Memorial Award nominee, led the team in goals with 22 and came third in points with 35. Apart from his impact on the scoresheet, the senior forward also topped other statistic columns, showcasing his resilience. He shot the most of anyone on the team and blocked the most shots of any forward.

Mersch led the team in power-play goals this year, becoming the first player to do so for three straight seasons at Wisconsin. He was so dangerous on the power play that his 10 power-play goals made his teammates’ tallies look downright tame, with the next leading scorer on the man advantage claiming three goals. Mersch was also one of the least penalized players over the course of the season, having been cited for just nine minors in 37 games.

Wisconsin’s season, which included a 17-2-1 home record and the Badgers’ first-ever Big Ten title, held many magical moments for Mersch. On Jan. 10, he had his first career hat trick against Michigan. When critics cited his lack of production in the postseason, he scored both goals in Wisconsin’s semi-final matchup against Penn State in the Big Ten tournament to propel the Badgers to the championship game.

In the midst of all his individ- ual accomplishments, though, Mersch talked only of his team. When asked about his big goals, he shifted the focus away from himself by crediting good passes from linemates. Mersch’s greatest joy in scoring came from his ability to put his team ahead, showing just how dedicated he was to the teamwork-first ethos of Wisconsin hockey and how lucky the program was to have such a talented, unselfish player as a good role model for his younger teammates.

Michelle Mueller

This spring was colder than usual in Wisconsin, but that hasn’t stopped senior third baseman Michelle Mueller from being hot on the diamond.

Mueller has been a powerful centerpiece of the Badgers’ offense. She leads the team in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage, showing her dominance in the power department.

However, she is not a one-trick pony. She is second on the team in batting average, first in on-base percentage and she has the fewest strikeouts of any starter.

While Mueller is an important part of the day-to-day offense, her crowning moment came April 11 against Illinois.

In game two of a double- header, Mueller knocked in eight RBI and three home runs in the game, breaking the previous record of seven RBI in a game. Mueller has received frequent attention for her stand- out play. She has twice been named Big Ten Player of the Week, and on April 15 became the first Badger softball player to be named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week and USA Softball National Player of the Week.

Mueller’s prowess at the plate can’t be ignored, even by the national media.

However, Mueller’s powerful bat hasn’t been the only thing that’s earned her the national spotlight.

In the second inning of a game against Penn State April 19, Mueller ran deep into foul territory, leaned over the railing of the dugout, and ultimately made the grab to end the inning.

The play was featured the following morning on ESPN as a top play of the day.

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