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Top 5 Female Athletes 2015-16: No. 3, Kayla Krueger

Josh VanDyke • Updated Jul 20, 2016 at 12:45 AM

The Tribune is counting down its top five teams, male and female athletes of the 2015-16 school year. The No. 3 female athlete on our list, Kayla Krueger, is a three-sport standout at Spring Lake High School. The talented senior helped the Lakers golf team to back-to-back state championships, was a key defensive player on the soccer team, and even dove into competitive skiing in the winter.

Golf

Krueger excelled on the golf course, where she earned first-team All-State and All-Conference honors as a senior for the Lakers. At the Division 3 state meet, Krueger carded a 76 on the opening day, and followed up with a final round 82 to finish second overall with a 158, just four strokes behind teammate Anna Kramer (154) for medalist honors.

Krueger plans to join the Valparaiso University golf team in the fall.

Spring Lake golf coach George Bitner on Krueger: “She’s very competitive. I think that’s one of her biggest strengths. She’s usually so competitive that she can get down on herself when she doesn’t hit the ball exactly like she wanted to, though. She’s fairly steady with everything she does on the course. She drives well, she’s good with her mid-range, and she’s come a long way with her putting. She knows the game well, and she likes to compete at the highest level.

“She’s just an amazing natural athlete. She excels at everything she does. On top of that, she’s a 4.0 (grade point average) student, and she even had three karate trophies out at her graduation party earlier this summer.”

Biggest improvement since freshman year: “Her putting and short game. She’s not very big, physically, so she has to have a solid short game. She’s made the most strides in that area.”

Who else made the list

No. 4: Hannah Kenny

No. 5: Madelyn Nelson

Skiing

Prior to her senior year, Krueger had only been a recreational skier in her spare time. She decided to test her luck on the slopes during the winter and take up competitive skiing.

Krueger’s natural athleticism and competitiveness overshadowed her lack of experience with the sport, as she quickly climbed the ranks to finish 40th in the giant slalom (1 minute, 12.85 seconds combined) at the Division 2 regionals at Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac.

Spring Lake Ski coach Beki Reed on Krueger: “She just went out for the first time this year. It was her first year racing. She was by far the most improved athlete on the team. She’s a dynamic kid. She’s well-coordinated, and she’s very eager to get better and is very competitive. She wanted to get faster every time she was out on the slopes, and she usually did.”

Favorite moment coaching Krueger: “The very first time she went down the slopes competitively, she told me, ‘that was so much fun! Now I want to go faster.’ That just put a smile on my face, because it showed me that she was enjoying the sport.”

On what helped her improve so rapidly at the sport: “She’s just a great natural athlete. Skiing isn’t an easy sport to just pick up in a few weeks, but she made it look easy. She worked at it, and eventually she climbed to the middle of the pack at regionals.”

Soccer

Krueger was a three-year varsity player for the Spring Lake soccer team, recording six goals and 12 assists in her junior and senior campaigns from her defender position. She earned All-Conference honors in her senior season.

Former Spring Lake girls soccer coach Jeremy Thelen on Krueger: “She wasn't a flashy player, but she did the grunt work that most girls don’t like to do. Anything I asked, she did it with a smile. She was a soldier who did her job well. She pours her heart and soul into any sport she plays, and that was especially true with soccer.”

On what made her a valuable member of the team: “Her versatility was awesome for me as a coach, because I felt comfortable putting her anywhere on the field. She was primarily a defender for us, but she wasn’t afraid to pinch up and make a play offensively. She wasn’t the biggest or strongest girl out of the field, but she was never afraid to tussle for the ball or get a little physical with bigger players.”

Favorite moment with Krueger: “Last year in the regional semifinals, we were in a scoreless game with Midland Dow late in the second half, and she scored the game-winner. It was off a rebound, and it just showed you the type of hustle she plays with. She came all the way from midfield, snuck past a defender and buried the shot.

Spring Lake Athletic Director Cavin Mohrhardt on Krueger: “She’s an excellent athlete that excels at everything she does. As an A.D., I get to see these kids as students and athletes, and it’s a joy to see what they bring to the school in both of those aspects. Kayla plays three different sports, rarely has any down time, but she still manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA. That’s pretty impressive in itself.”

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