Triple ‘A’ winner Michael Witschen uses athletics to help with academics

Michael Witschen was honored with the Minnesota State High School Leagues Triple ‘A’ Award for his excellence both in the classroom (4.0 GPA) and on the field (All-State in two sports). (Times staff photo by Clay Sawatzke)
Michael Witschen was honored with the Minnesota State High School Leagues Triple ‘A’ Award for his excellence both in the classroom (4.0 GPA) and on the field (All-State in two sports). (Times staff photo by Clay Sawatzke)

For the majority of kids, the high school experience is controllable. If you want to be busy, there is plenty to keep you busy. If you want to go to seven classes a day and have no other association with the school, you can do that too. Each way works for some, and for some it’s a combination. For Michael Witschen, the busy way is the only way.
“I don’t know any other lifestyle,” said Witschen of his jam-packed schedule. “It’s how it’s always been.”
That schedule, which includes four college-level classes, two sports, and band, helped make Witschen the male winner of the 2013 Triple ‘A’ Award at Monticello High School. The A’s stand for Academics, Arts and Athletics, and Witschen excels noticeably at each.
Academically, the senior has maintained a cumlative 4.0 GPA despite constantly challenging himself with difficult courses, including a second-semester slate this year that features BC Calc (the highest-level math class offered), AP Biology, AP Physics, and Composition for college.
He says the perfect GPA isn’t solely what drives him, but admits that it’s in the back of his mind.
“It’s not the most important thing in life,” said Witschen. “But I’ve come this far, it would be nice to maintain it.”
One of the biggest things helping him maintain it, besides his drive in the classroom, is his performance on the athletic field.
Witschen says people see his busy schedule and point out he could reduce a lot of stress by cutting the time he puts into sports. He says that the truth is quite the opposite.
“I honestly don’t think I could handle my class load if I wasn’t in sports,” said Witschen. “It’s just one of the easiest ways to relieve stress in a positive manner, and, they’re a lot of fun.”
Making sports especially fun is the sucess that Witschen has found in them. Just this fall, Witschen helped lead the Monticello football team to its best regular season in 25 years. The team success came for many reasons, but Witschen was one of the big ones. He rededicated himself to the sport this past offseason, hitting the weights and putting on 20 pounds of muscle. As a linebacker, he reaped the rewards. The senior finished the season with the most tackles on the team, an impressive accomplishment on what was one of the toughest defenses in the area.
For his work, he was rewarded with the Linebacker of the Year Award in the Mississippi 8 Conference.
“It was nice, because it felt like nobody expected it was coming,” said Witschen. “Including myself.”
And in track and field, his other sport, he isn’t exactly a slouch. The senior has been a varsity contribute since joining in tenth grade. And really, he’s done more than just contribute. He’s excelled in both hurdles and jumping events. In his first year, he made All-Conference. His junior season, he was All-Conference and All-State. His senior year promises to bring more excitement and even more moments that make all the hard work worth it.
The last area where Witschen puts a large portion of his time in (besides student comittees, such as Math Team, TATU, Projects for Teens, SADD, etc.) is band. The senior has been playing the trombone (“the most fun instrument there is”) for seven years now, and enjoys his opportunities to not only attend class but to participate in extra curriculars such as pep band.
In his application for the Triple ‘A’ Award, Witschen touched on how nice it’s been to experience pep band from two points of view.
“I have had the opportunity to not only play in the pep band, but enjoy it from the playing field as well,” wrote Witschen. “Pep band is truly the heart of the sports competition atmosphere; not only have I felt a part of something really special while playing but the band makes the crowd and athletes feel this way too.”
In that case, pep band is to athletes, what Witschen is to MHS – special.
Biology teacher Deb Stacken wrote a staff letter of recommendation for Michael, and spoke warmly of the impact he has had on the high school.
“Michael is the kind of person that any parent would be proud of,” wrote Stacken. “And as a student at Monticello High School, one that our staff and student body are extremely lucky to have.”
Witschen plans to attend either the University of St. Thomas or the University of Minnesota next fall to pursue an engineering degree.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]