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Vote: Who should be SBLive’s Nebraska Athlete of the Week (09/18/2023)?

Here are the candidates for SBLive’s Nebraska high school athlete of the week for September 11-17

Here are the candidates for SBLive’s Nebraska high school athlete of the week for September 11-17. Read through the nominees and cast your vote. Voting will conclude Sunday at 11:59 p.m. If you would like to make a nomination in a future week, email

Editor’s Note: Our Athlete of the Week feature and corresponding poll are intended to be fun, and we do not set limits on how many times a fan can vote during the competition. However, we do not allow votes that are generated by script, macro or other automated means. Athletes who receive votes generated by script, macro or other automated means will be disqualified. 

Dakota Horstman – Hemingford Cross Country

Horstman has been picking up momentum in every meet this season, starting with a third-place finish Aug. 24 at the Panhandle Classic in Scottsbluff. Since then she hasn’t lost. Horstman won in Gering on Sept. 1, Kimball on Sept. 8 and this past weekend in Alliance. Not only did Horstman make it three wins in a row but she set a new personal record of 20:37.3 and won the meet by nearly a minute.

Chloe Hanel – Clarkson/Leigh Volleyball

Hanel is the most effective hitter in the state with a robust attack percentage of .487. She kept that efficiency intact last week with a trio of matches that each included a conversion rate of .556 or better. Hanel had 18 kills on 29 swings against HLHF, 10 on 18 against Arlington and 13 on 20 in a win over Ponca. The Patriots have yet to lose and Hanel’s contributions are a major reason why.

Kloey Hamblen – Papillion-La Vista Softball

Hamblen had quite the power surge last week when she doubled her home run total from four to eight. The Papio senior had home runs in four of five games, drove in eight runs and had a total of eight hits. In 15 at-bats she struck out just one time, had eight total hits and one walk. Figuring in four home runs and a double, that’s a slugging percentage of 1.400 and an OPS of 2.000. Hamblen is now tied for second in Nebraska with eight home runs and is slugging .982 for the season with an OPS of 1.442.

Hadlee Hasselmann – Grand Island Central Catholic Volleyball

Hasselmann was just three kills short of 50 in another big week for the GICC middle hitter. Hasselmann is one of the best in the state at capitalizing on her chances – hitting .407 through her team’s first 12 matches. This past week, Hasselman’s numbers consisted of 17 kills against Wood River, 12 against Doniphan-Trumbull, 10 against West Holt and eight against Amherst. Although she finished in single digits in that last match, she hit .727 and was .385 or better in all four matches.

Alexis Jensen – Gretna Softball

Jensen has been tying hitters up in knots all season long, striking out an average of two per inning. She has 101 Ks in 10 appearances and has four games with more than 10 strikeouts. Two of those came last week when she struck out 11 in a win over Papio and 12 against North Star. In total, Jensen faced 59 hitters in three games and struck out 28 of those while allowing just one earned run

Mia Murray – Lincoln East Cross Country

Murray has been unstoppable the last two years, winning a total of 10 races while claiming the 2022 Girls Class A state title. She won seven of eight varsity events her junior year, failing to claim victory at Millard South in the second meet of the year. Murray finished 2022 with six wins in a row and has extended that to nine with wins in her first three races of 2023. She has won at Papio South, Mahoney State Park and last week at Pioneers Park. Her win at Mahoney was a new personal record.

McKenna Plumbtree – Fullerton Volleyball

Plumbtree has been on some kind of a run over the past two weeks, stacking up 134 kills in her past seven matches – an average of nearly 20 per match. Two weeks ago she had 56 kills in just two matches while hitting. 367. That high-level play extended into last week where five matches produced 78 kills on 145 swings with just 15 errors – a hitting percentage of .434. Plumbtree ranks in the top 10 in Nebraska in total kills and will surpass 200 kills for the season this week.

Laikyn Seim – Lexington Volleyball

Seim is having quite the year in the back row for the Minutemaids, piling up 242 digs through 18 matches. The Lexington has had four matches with 20 or more digs, including a career-high 27 on Sept. 12 in a five-set win over North Platte. In five matches last week, Seim had 66 total digs to go with 41 kills and four aces. Seim has had double-digit digs in 12 matches and has already surpassed her previous season best of 201.

Kathryn Van Skiver – St. Cecilia Volleyball

We’d have to check the records at St. Cecilia, but it seems more than likely that Van Skiver set a new school record for aces in a match when she had 14 in a two-set sweep of Raymond Central on Saturday. Van Skiver was already having a great year with her serve, totaling 19 aces before the win over the Mustangs, but nothing compares to 14. Van Skiver has four matches with five or more aces so far this year and has been excellent running the offense as the setter. Her assists total stands at 254.

Jaysa Wentzlaff – Grand Island Volleyball

Wentzlaff climbed to the second spot in total assists in the state during a slate of seven matches. She had at least 15 assists in all seven of those matches and twice had more than 30 assists. Her best performance was 34 assists in a sweep of Kearney. Wentzlaff has 478 assists through the first month of the season and has also piled up 25 aces and 110 digs.

Peyton Abbott – Bridgeport Football

Abbott was a candidate for AOTW just a few weeks ago and he’s back this time for his work on the ground. Two weeks ago, Abbot had touchdowns on all three of his receptions and 106 yards. Friday in a win over Hemingford he was again effective as a pass catcher with one reception for a 62-yard score, but in the backfield, he took seven handoffs and stacked up 233 yards rushing with six touchdowns.

Cash Buettenback – Lincoln Southeast Football

Cash was money in Friday’s breakout performance. The Southeast junior rushed 17 times for 231 yards and a touchdown – an average of over 13 yards per carry. Buettenback earned 38 carries and 235 yards last season, mostly in cleanup time as a sophomore learning the ropes. In the first three games of this season, he had a high of 63 yards and a total of 40 carries. Friday he may have announced his arrival for the future.

Jeremiah Ingison – Maywood-Hayes Center Football

Ingison needed just five catches to put together a career night in Friday’s eight-man blowout of Medicine Valley. The senior wide receiver had five receptions for 140 yards and scored on three of those five catches. Ingison had less than 600 career receiving yards before Friday’s performance and just two other games with more than 100 yards before Friday night.

Trent McCain and Jordan Williams – Ord Football

How can you choose one or the other after what the Ord running back duo did on Friday night? McCain led the way with a game-high 168 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. But it was Williams' eye-pooping average that bested McCain in terms of big-play ability. Williams needed just three carries for 157 yards and two scores – an average of over 52 yards.

Mason McGreer – Perkins County boys cross country

McGreer is perfect through three events with wins at North Platte St. Pat’s, Chase County and most recently on Sept. 14 at McCook. The junior was coming off a PR time of 16:07.2 at Chase County when he ran 16:44.6 at McCook and won by more than 45 seconds. He’s been dominant with a win by more than 20 seconds at Chase County and 27 seconds at St. Pat.’s. McGreer now has seven wins in his career.

Payton Prestito – Papillion-La Vista Football

Prestito came into the 2023 season with big expectations. He had a good start with back-to-back 100-yard games and two touchdowns but was bottled up in a loss to Southeast last week. Well, that wasn’t about to keep Prestito down for long. The Monarch senior rolled up 182 yards and two touchdowns while leading Papio back to the win column and earning the 12th 100-yard performance of his career.

Anthony Rezac – Westside Football

The best team in the state has a boatload of talent on display each week. In Friday’s blowout of Millard North, no Warrior star shone brighter than Rezac. The Westside quarterback was an uber-efficient 6 of 7 throwing for 155 yards and two touchdowns and added 149 yards on the ground in just nine carries and three scores.

Jeter Worthley – Lincoln East Football

Worthley put together the fifth game of his career with three or more touchdown passes in Thursday’s 42-7 victory over Northeast. It was also the most efficient throwing game of his career on 15 of 18 for 225 yards. Worthley had a long of 47 and connected with five different receivers. In four games he’s amassed 771 yards and nine touchdowns to two interceptions with a 65% completion percentage.

Kendall Zavala – Norris Cross Country

Zavala earned his third meet win of the season on Friday when he took the crown in Waverly by five seconds. That made it three wins in four events and a bounce-back win of sorts after finishing fifth despite a personal-best time a week earlier at Mahoney State Park. Zavala also has a title at home, at Beatrice, nine wins in his career and victories in four of his past six races.

Drake Zimmerman – Ashland-Greenwood Football

Zimmerman was the running game workhorse for the Bluejays on Friday during a 35-0 win over Auburn. The Ashland-Greenwood senior had all but seven of the team’s carries, had a long of 33 yards and scored his ninth touchdown of the season. In total, Zimmerman rushed 25 times for a career-best 207 yards. Zimmerman has 557 yards in four games and is averaging over 6 yards per carry to go with 181 receiving yards and three more touchdowns.