As we approach the spring season, learn these unfamiliar names that will soon be everywhere. The skill of Wisconsin teams manifests itself in the stars it produces, and this list is simply a glimpse into the potential of the flourishing spring teams.
Chucky Hepburn- Men’s Basketball
As common as birds chirping in the distance, the sight of flowers blooming, and the image of geese flying back north is the springtime tradition of college basketball analysts saying, “In March, it all comes down to good guard play.”
While this jargon is somewhat overemphasized, the foundation of the phrase remains true. While Johnny Davis and Brad Davison will be the stars of the team, Hepburn is the glue of the team.
From his tenacious defense to his improving three-point shooting, Hepburn has ascended to a college basketball phenom and ranks amongst the best guards in the Big Ten. Hepburn will need to be extraordinary for the Badgers to make a deep run in the tournament.
Julie Pospíšilovà- Women’s Basketball
The junior guard from Prague has seen a high volume of minutes, averaging 36 minutes per game. Continuing to improve year in and year out, Pospíšilovà is increasing her totals in almost every statistical category, highlighted by her 14.2 PPG, 1.5 SPG and 4.1 RPG.
In the Jan. 23 gamest Penn State, she led the Badgers to victory with a season-high 23 points. Look for her continued success into Feb. and Mar.
Jarred Pratt– Men’s Tennis
Competing as a dual-threat tennis player, Pratt mostly played in the No. 1 singles and doubles spots, leading the team with nine singles wins.
While the senior and his partner, Robin Parts, look to improve upon their 6-14 doubles record from last season, Pratt will spearhead the campaign to reinvigorate the Men’s tennis program.
Xinyu Cai- Women’s Tennis
Asserting herself as a dominant player and worthy of her No. 1 singles position, Cai posted the highest winning percentage — .750 — on the team as a freshman as she displayed an impressive 9-3 singles record.
The now junior from Wuhan, China amassed a 12-6 record last season before suffering a leg injury. In addition to her college career, Cai also earned a spot on the ITA Preseason rankings at No. 59 and competed in the ITA All-American Championships in the fall.
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Cameron Huss- Men’s Golf
Awarded as Big Ten Player of the Week in the first week of Nov. Huss looks to build off a strong fall season as the No. 1 player on the Men’s golf team. The Kenosha native had two consecutive career-low rounds in the final weeks of the fall season, and the sophomore started the spring season 2-2 in Big Ten Match Play.
Vanessa Ho- Women’s Golf
Coming in 35th place and finishing first for the Badgers, Vanessa Ho started the spring season off with a bang as she shot a career-low score of 70 at the Cougar Classic in the Sept. golf tournament. This spring, the San Diego freshman looks to develop her game in what should be a promising future.
Olin Hacker- Men’s Track & Field
A true Madison native, Hacker’s resume is flaunted by accolades as the graduate student enters his seventh year as a student athlete. A redshirt freshman year, Achilles and knee injuries, and a pandemic are a few of the obstacles Hacker has overcome in his career with the Badgers.
Coming from a family of runners, Hacker’s father is in the Wisconsin Hall of Fame as a member of the NCAA Cross Country championship in 1982 and an individual NCAA champion in 1985. Carrying on the proud legacy of his father, Hacker earned All-American honors in the fall for cross-country and qualified for the NCAA championships in the 5,000 meters for the first-time last spring.
Having already competed and won the mile in the Larry Wiezorek Invite in late Jan. Hacker will certainly be a fortified star for the Badgers this spring.
Kiley Robbins- Women’s Track & Field
Already holding the school record in the indoor 60 meters and the outdoor 100 meters, the Milwaukee sprinter looks to build off her extraordinary freshman campaign this spring.
Starting the indoor season off of a strong summer, Robbins won the 60 meters at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational in Jan. and is currently ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten in the event. Amongst the many notable track athletes on the women’s side, Robbins will certainly be a standout.
Garrett Model- Men’s Wrestling
Coming off a stellar accomplishment of both Big Ten and USA Wrestler of the Week, Model spearheaded Badgers’ team efforts as they beat Minnesota in a meet for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
The redshirt senior from Stoughton, Wisconsin placed 10th in last year’s 2021 Big Ten Championships at 157 pounds. As the Badgers head into their championship season with both the conference and national championships on the horizon, Model will be one of the key determinants of the Badgers’ success.
Fiona Girardot- Women’s Softball
An emblem of consistency, Girardot started in all 38 games she played in the 2021 season as she was frequently on the base-paths with an on-base-percentage of .462 while batting .324. Improving in nearly every category from her freshman year, Girardot earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in the 2021 season. Positioning herself at second base, the junior from River Forest, Illinois will be crucial component in turning the tide of the Wisconsin Softball program.
Tarek Baker- Men’s Hockey
The senior captain from Verona, Wisconsin has had a strong season thus far, accumulating 17 points with a shot percentage of .071 earning Academic All-Big Ten honors in his past three years. Baker possesses a flair for the moment as he lead the team in game-winning goals last season.
The Badgers approach the end of the season as heavy underdogs in a competitive Big Ten conference, and Baker will be playing a pivotal role as they head toward the home stretch.
Casey O’Brien- Women’s Hockey
The sheer volume of O’Brien’s contributions thus far has been nothing short of excellence. In her 21 games played, she has accrued 38 points with a .216% shot percentage.
Exemplifying her importance to the team, O’Brien has posted a staggering +32 +/- rating. The No. 3 ranked Badgers will need O’Brien to come up clutch as the Badgers trudge forward.