Seven named as Athletes of the Month

Athletes of the Month — Athletes of the Month for both September and October are, from left, back, Ryan Skillingstad, Brenden Johnson, Jac Cutler and Brittney Arnold; front, Marion Hohn, Karlee Simmons and Tatum Henderson. They were selected by their coaches and sponsored by the Hill City Cafe and Forest Recreation Management, Inc. [Submitted Photo]

Jac Cutler is the Hill City Ranger’s cross country athlete of the month for his dedication to cross country and his performance at the region and state meets. Cutler really turned a corner this year for the Hill City boys team as he put in some miles preparing for the season. Cutler had a goal of putting himself in a position to qualify for the state meet this year; and his hard working attitude led to that. Cutler finished 18th at the region meet and was the Ranger’s first qualifier in two seasons for the state meet.

Marion Hohn was the Hill City Ranger’s cross country athlete of the month for September. Hohn received this award because of her leadership on and off the cross country course. Hohn is always encouraging to her fellow teammates and always brings a positive attitude to practice, no matter the conditions or type of practice. Hohn also earned this award for her performances this season, where she was the only ranger girl to place in every competition she ran in. Hohn is a two-time placer at the state meet in cross country and she has been a committed and dedicated runner to the Hill City program.

Karlee Simmons was the Hill City Rangers Cross Country athlete of the month for October, even though she began earning this award in July. Simmons has not missed a single mile of training since the beginning of the season in July. This was essential in helping Karlee build a solid base of training that led her to be able to win the Black Hills Conference meet, the Region 5A meet and placing third at this year’s state meet. Simmons accomplished all of this as a first-time cross country runner. Simmons is the embodiment of an athlete of the month because of her commitment and dedication to the sport and being a positive role model to other runners. On top of all this, Simmons helped lead the girls team to a third place finish at this year’s Class “A” Cross Country Meet.

The September athlete of the month for Hill City volleyball is senior middle hitter Brittney Arnold. Through her off season commitment to the sport and dedication to her team, Arnold has stepped up as a leader both on and off the court.  She has consistently performed at high levels throughout the season, often finding herself in double figures for kills and solo blocks. Arnold led her team to a five-set win over Spearfish early in the season, finishing the match with 17 kills and 12 blocks. Arnold has been a key element to the program’s success.

October athlete of the month for volleyball is senior setter Tatum Henderson. Tatum has developed her setting skills for the past 4 years, committing herself to this program and serving as a role model of determination and perseverance.  The setter’s role is one of constants and low profile; Henderson knows the expectations of being the play-maker are very high and her job is to keep the ball in system. Averaging between 60 and 100 sets per match, Henderson has maintained a high percentage of successful sets and assists. Tatum also leads the team in serves with a 98 percent.

Brenden Johnson started the road to September’s  Athlete of the Week about nine months ago. After being selected for being a team captain this year,  Johnson dedicated hundreds of hours of weight room, camp, passing league and in general leadership, getting his guys involved with the best off season the Rangers may have ever had. Through camps, passing league and individual time with quarterback Ryan Skillingstad,  Johnson has focused on his receiving and route running and has taken the Ranger passing game to a new level. He set a new school record for touchdown receptions in a game against Bison by hauling in four touchdown grabs and a new record for receiving yards in a game with 296 on 10 receptions.   He continues to lead the Rangers in every game in receiving and sets the tone for the underclassmen about expectations in the passing game.  Defensively, Johnson is a force from the outside defensive end position. His pass rush and his ability to overpower blockers have forced teams to find other ways through our defense. He is versatile and athletic, which allows him to move from the line to linebacker to safety as the team needs.

Ryan Skillingstad, October’s Athlete of the Month, has been a core leader on the football team for three years. Having played on the team that went to the quarter finals in 2013, he knows the work that it takes to get there. Skillingstad has been an off-season leader every year, always setting the standard for off season effort. This season, Skillingstad has led the Ranger Air Force as they excited the fans and worried opposing coaches with our strategic and explosive passing game this year.   Skillingstad has set multiple school records including touchdown passes in a game and season, completions in a game, season and career, passing yards in a season and career and passing percentage in a game.   He credits his success to a hardworking receiving corp and a dedicated offensive line that only allowed nine sacks all year. On defense, Skillingstad was the bookend that kept opponents’ running game in check and put seven quarterbacks on the ground during the year.   His knowledge of the game and his ability to lead the team during the game is a credit to his preparation and dedication to the team.