Multisport Athlete Star for Onalaska Post 336
ONALASKA — Ayden Larson and Brock Herczeg are just weeks away from continuing their athletic careers in college — Larson at UW-La Crosse for soccer and Herczeg on the John Carroll University (Ohio) soccer team .
But in the meantime, they couldn’t help but spend the summer playing American Legion baseball for Onalaska’s Post 336 team.
“Baseball has always been there for me, and this team is so much fun to play,” Larson said. “I couldn’t give up yet.”
Larson and Herczeg are part of a Post 336 roster that is littered with multi-sport athletes from Onalaska High School. At a time when single-sport specialization has dominated youth sports, Post 336 coach John Adams said he appreciates that many members of his team buck the trend.
“I think it’s good for kids to play multiple sports,” Adams said. “It keeps them in sync and keeps them on a schedule. I think it’s something positive. »
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Science is also on Adams’ side. A 2021 study published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine found that among a group of 895 high school athletes, multisport athletes were less likely to report an injury than those who specialized in one sport.
In Sunday’s final of the Onalaska tournament, Post 336’s starting nine featured eight players who played multiple sports in high school. Starting pitcher Adam Skifton is a tri-sport athlete, playing football in the fall and basketball in the winter before earning an honorable mention on the All-MVC baseball team. First baseman Sam Pica was part of the All-Tribune first-team defense as a linebacker last year, while shortstop Griffin Schultz teamed up with Herczeg on the football squad. University of Onalaska.
Even football coaches from Herczeg to John Carroll have encouraged him to pursue baseball until he arrives in Ohio next month.
“They were actually very supportive of it. They like multi-sport athletes,” Herczeg said. “They were proud to know that I still work for football, but also that I am able to do other things.”
Larson will report for UW-L football training camp on Aug. 10, so he said he has just enough time to finish the Legion season by then. On Sunday, Larson had two hits and two RBIs, including a home run in the fourth inning, in the Post 336’s 6-2 victory over Rochester (Minn.) Post 92.
“He has hit very well the last two weeks. He’s just been on the barrel the whole time,” Adams said. “He hits the ball hard and he’s great fun to coach.”
Both Larson and Herczeg said their training for their primary sports had a positive impact on their skills on the baseball field.
“I play quarterback on the football field, so I throw all year, and that helps with arm strength. But other than that, it’s just about staying active, and I’m sure I’m a better athlete because of all the hard work you put into it,” Larson said.
Herczeg, who also played for the Onalaska basketball team, attributed his ability to quickly change direction in the outfield and get quick jumps on base paths to his football footwork.
As Herczeg and Larson prepare for the next level on the field and the grill, respectively, their initial focus is to enjoy the final weeks with their friends on the diamond.
“Summer and baseball go together,” Herczeg said. “I thought since it was the last summer for me, I wanted to do it with this group of guys.”
The American Legion playoffs begin next week with regionals beginning July 21. Post 336 will be looking to win its first state title since 2008.