Former Sparta wrestler Jenna Ahnen was recently featured in an article in the La Crosse Tribune. Ahnen, now a sophomore at UW-La Crosse, has become one of the top players on the Eagles' softball team and in the entire WIAC. At week's end she was hitting .464 with two triples, a .538 on-base percentage while going 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts this year.
The article is below, but can also be found by clicking here.
Ahnen (above) takes care of business at regionals in 2007. Below, the face of her Holmen opponent is pretty close to the same face opposing pitchers are making this year after facing Ahnen, who is now a shortstop for UW-La Crosse.
From pins to putouts
Jenna Ahnen is proud of her small chapter in area sports history.
was a four-year varsity wrestler at Sparta High School, where she
competed exclusively against boys, and finished her career with a
second-place finish at the United States Girls Wrestling Association
“I still get recognized,” Ahnen said of her time as a prep wrestler.
these days, Ahnen is focused on playing for the UW-La Crosse softball
team. If she keeps it up, people might forget all about the wrestling.
a sophomore, has started all 20 games at shortstop and leads UW-L with
a .464 batting average, two triples and a .538 on-base percentage. She
is also 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts and has one home run and 14 RBI.
though Ahnen has been a starter since the beginning of her freshman
year and is a big reason why the Eagles are 15-5 this season, she is
not ready to declare herself a finished product.
“I don’t know everything,” Ahnen said. “I’m just a sophomore.”
coach Chris Helixon watched Ahnen as a softball player and wrestler
during her senior year of high school. He was already projecting her as
a starter for the Eagles.
“Just from recruiting her, I could
tell,” Helixon said. “She’s very athletic and has a big range. I saw
her field ground balls on the other side of second base. I also saw her
wrestle in high school and you could see she had mental toughness.
“I knew as a freshman she would be mature enough to handle playing in college.”
started 40 of 41 games in 2008 and batted .365 with three homers, 15
RBI and 15 stolen bases. Defensively, she had a .900 fielding
percentage, including 14 errors, which she wasn’t happy about.
year, I did well, but I had a lot of errors,” Ahnen said. “A lot of
them came where we’re at now, at the halfway point. This year, I have
two (errors) so I feel I’ve improved.”
doubleheader sweep of Viterbo on Thursday, Ahnen, had four hits, scored
three runs, drove in a run, stole a base, and threw a runner out at
home to preserve the shutout in the second game.
“She can drop a
bunt down for a hit, or hit it out of the park,” Helixon said. “As a
baserunner, she’s very opportunistic. Any slight mistake and she’ll
take the extra base.”
Ahnen considered wrestling in college —
she had some scholarship offers from women’s programs — before
committing to UW-L to play softball.
“Wrestling helped me
tremendously as an athlete because it requires so much determination,”
Ahnen said. “I’m glad I went with softball. I love the girls here and I