MORRIS – There was a short list of candidates for the Morris Herald-News’ inaugural Male Athlete of the Year award, but, in the end, Kameron Dransfeldt of Morris came out on the top.
Dransfeldt was not only an outstanding athlete, but he also was an exceptional student and active in other extra-curricular activities.
During the football season, Dransfeldt rushed for 1,863 yards and 22 touchdowns on team that lost Class 4A title game to Rochester on a last-second field goal. He also started as linebacker on defense.
During the winter season, he started nearly every game for the basketball team, even after he injured his shoulder during a December game with DeKalb.
A third-year varsity starter for the baseball team, he was limited to designated hitter duties due to his shoulder injury, but hit .300 with a home run in 12 games before shoulder surgery ended his season. He was a captain on all three teams, and will attend University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to play baseball and study business and finance next year.
At the start of the school year, Dransfeldt and the football team were eager to improve on the previous season’s performance, a loss to Peoria in the Class 5A semifinals.
“In football, the goal was definitely to get to state,” he said. “We just missed it the year before, only losing by a touchdown in the semifinals. That left a pretty bitter taste in our mouths, and it let us know that you have to play every game and every down as hard as you can.
“I have always been one of the leaders whatever the sport, but our football team had a ton of great leaders. It was nice that I didn’t have to really take the role of being the only leader, because so many guys were leaders on that team.
“The offensive line really stands out to me as I look back at football. There aren’t many teams that average 6-1,
280 across the line. They really took care of me and made it a lot easier to run, that’s for sure.”
The game that will stay with Dransfeldt the most is the state championship game. Rochester had won six of the previous seven 4A titles, but the Redskins gave the Rockets everything they had.
It was an effort born well before the title game.
“That state game was so intense,” Dransfeldt said. “It was back and forth. At one point, we were down 14 points, but we came back to tie it. We knew we could come back, because we had a few games earlier in the year when we fell behind and came back. We knew we just had to keep doing what we do best.”
On that day, what the Redskins did best was give the ball to Dransfeldt. He carried a season-high 38 times for
184 yards and scored two touchdowns. In the semifinals against Chicago Raby, Dransfeldt ran for 203 yards and five TDs, giving him 387 yards and seven touchdowns in the season’s final two games.
Earlier in the season, the Redskins faced one of their biggest challenges on the schedule when they hosted DeKalb. The Barbs had been a thorn in Morris’ side the previous two seasons and were the defending Northern Illinois Big 12 East champions. Dransfeldt responded with 203 yards and a touchdown on
28 carries. After the state championship game, it was on to basketball season for Dransfeldt.
While Tyler Spiezio took over as the focal point in that sport, Dransfeldt was one of the mainstays in the starting lineup, providing much-needed leadership and doing much of the unsung work, such as defense and rebounding. The Redskins finished their season with an overtime regional loss to top-seeded Sandwich.
DeKalb proved to be one of the central figures for Dransfeldt during the basketball season, but for a much different reason than during football. It was in a game in December against the Barbs that he dove for a ball and came up with an injured shoulder. He played the rest of the season, but the injury proved to be more than he originally thought.
“It was sore the rest of the year, but I didn’t think a lot of it,” he said. “I had been sore after football games all year, so I thought it was just something like that and that it would go away. It wasn’t until we started baseball and it was bothering my throwing that I really thought something wasn’t right.”
It turned out to be a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury that needed surgery to correct. In mid-April, he had his surgery and spent the rest of the baseball season on the bench with his arm in a sling. Before he went in for surgery, though, he was able to swing the bat even if he couldn’t throw from behind the plate as a catcher. He hit .300 in with a home run in his 12 games.
“Our last game before my surgery was supposed to be against Coal City, but it got rained out,” Dransfeldt recalled. “I would have liked to put on the Redskin jersey for the last time for that game, but it didn’t work out. I was able to have [baseball] coach [Todd] Kein throw my last batting practice to me in the cage, and that was nice.”
Always a competitor, Dransfeldt did not enjoy watching while his teammates finished the season, but he used it as a learning experience.
“Having to sit and watch most of the season kind of gave me a new love for the game,” he said. “It really sucked to not be out there playing, and it made me realize how much I love to play and that I really missed not being able to.”
Dransfeldt is currently going through rehab and said that he has full range of motion in the shoulder and is working on strengthening it during the summer.
“I am not sure what I will be able to do with it when I get to college in the fall,” he said. “By spring, it should be 100 percent in all facets. I am excited to get to college and try to help the team in any way I can.”
Dransfeldt’s father, Kelly, is a former major-league shortstop who saw time in the bigs with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, while his mother, Erin (Hickey) Dransfeldt, was an All-American outfielder for DePaul’s softball program and has been inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Even with the success both parents had on the diamond, Kameron Dransfeldt was not pushed in that direction.
“My parents let me choose which sport I wanted to play,” he said. “They were very supportive no matter what sport it was. They let me know that it was my high school career and that I should make the most of it
Besides his athletic achievements, Dransfeldt was also the student body president and president of National Honor Society during his senior year. He was also named Homecoming King.
“It was definitely a busy year,” he said. “But, I wouldn’t change a thing. I really enjoyed my career at Morris. The thing I will miss the most is the guys. Playing with them growing up and all through high school, they became like my brothers. It’s going to be hard next year not suiting up with them. No matter what sport it was, it was great playing with them and something I will never forget.”