After four years of hard work, it finally paid off.
Wood Memorial High School 2017 graduate Brenna Maikranz fought hard in all four years of school and in her senior year was better than ever.
Mairkanz, born October 6, 1998 to Brian and the late Lisa Maikranz, who passed away in February 2016, played at a high caliber in all three sports season while setting a record in the fall during the soccer season, helping lead the Lady Trojans basketball team to a state championship in the fall and followed up with an outstanding softball in the spring, leading to being named the 2017 Daily Clarion Gibson County Female Athlete of the Year.
It all started with the soccer season in which Maikranz helped the lead the Lady Trojans to their fourth straight Blue Chip Conference title while also setting a record for the most goals in a season by scoring 32 times. The record setting season earned Maikranz a spot on the All-Blue Chip Conference squad and All-Gibson County squad.
“A kid like Brenna Maikranz makes coaching tolerable and worthwhile,” said former WMHS girls soccer coach Dan Gomez. “Not only is she a very coachable athlete, she’s also a very stand up person. She’s the kind of person that you can go to and tell her what you need and she’ll give you 110 percent. From a coaching standpoint, they don’t come along very often. It’s been very, very enjoyable. Brenna is one of those kids that stands out. I wish her success and I know she’ll have plenty in whatever she does.”
Maikranz didn’t slow down between season and in the first game of the Lady Trojans basketball season, notched her 1,000th career point leading to a career final of 1,435 points, fifth most all-time by a Gibson County girls.
Brenna was a huge part of the Lady Trojans basketball state championship team, the first in Wood Memorial High School history, and behind 26 points in the championship contest was selected as the Mental Attitude Award winner. After the season was over, Brenna was named to the All-Blue Chip Conference team, IBCA/Subway senior Large School All-State and All-District 2 team and the All-Gibson County team behind a 15 points per game scoring average, three rebounds per game average and 2.5 assists per game average.
“Brenna is probably one of the most unique kids I’ve ever coached,” said Lady Trojans basketball head coach Johnnie Bartley. “She’s a hard nosed, competitive kid that is born that way. You knew early on that her competitiveness was going to carry her beyond her physical attributes could. There was a team in a youth tournament that a team hit a half court buzzer to tie us and she said ‘we have to play harder.’ You would have thought at Bankers before we went out there to tell her that she needs to come out, you don’t have to tell her that. She just knows. You have those kids every so often that are just special and she’s one of those kids. I’m going to miss her.”
During the softball season, Maikranz hit .588 with six triples, 28 runs scored, 13 RBIs and 49 hits while being named the team MVP, to the All-Blue Chip Conference team and the All-Gibson County team.
This upcoming year, Maikranz is attending Olney Central College with teammate Sydney Day to play softball and basketball for the Blue Knights. Mairkanz plans to major as a vet.
I recently sat down with Brenna to get her thoughts on her senior year at Wood Memorial:
What got you into playing sports?
“I always watched sports with Dad on TV and my brothers always played, so I got dragged along to go watch them. As I watched them, I realized I wanted to play, too. So I started and people kept telling me that I could be good. When you’re little, you don’t really care. You’re just there to look good, have fun and meet friends. When I got older I realized I was very competitive. So I wanted to keep going and keep playing.”
How do you feel like your senior soccer season went?
“We went into it as three time Blue Chip Champions. We knew Coach Gomez was leaving when we were leaving so we were hoping that we could end on a good note. I knew there was a record for most goals in a season and I was shooting for it. I realized if you shoot too hard, you can get hurt like I did in my junior season when I broke my toe. Once I figured out what it was, I already passed it. Coach told me not to worry about it and play my game. I ended up doubling it and getting 32 goals. I had fun and we got the 4-time Blue Chip Champs. So that was really fun.”
What does it mean to you to have the Blue Chip record?
“It means a lot. We’ve never done it. I think a couple of years back they had won it, but not four consecutive times. It’s really cool to know that I made an impact in that.”
Tell me a little bit about your basketball season.
“I got to play with all my best friends, so that’s always fun. Going into it, the coaches are so fun to be around. I’ve known Johnnie [Bartley] and Joe [Robinson] forever, so we have a great relationship. We can be joking around and playing games. Then practice would start and we’d have fun or get competitive and hate each other, but practice would end and we’d all be best friends again. To be able to do all this with them, it was fun. At the beginning of the year, half of them played soccer and half of them played volleyball. Once basketball came around, we got really close. It sucked when the spring came because we all separated again. But the basketball season was a fun one.”
You started the season off by scoring your 1,000th point, how did that feel?
“I’m glad I got it out of the way. If you ask anybody about that game, I struggled so hard to hit a layup. Every time I shot it, I felt everyone getting ready to cheer and then it didn’t happen. I’m glad it happen so I didn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the season so I could just go out and play my game.”
What was getting the Blue Chip Conference championship like?
“It’s never been done before. So that’s what we focused on the most. It was never about going undefeated or winning state. We we’re going to try and win the Blue Chip. Like Bartley said, everything played out our way. All the tough games were at home and we got past Vincennes Rivet early, which was a good feeling because we lose to them almost every year. I thought we had a good chance. It was very exciting and I’m glad we could make some school history. It was fun.”
What was running through your head after winning regionals for the first time?
“We had never won a regional. We’d been there twice, but couldn’t finish and got beat by Rivet. To finally get it and know that everything is moving forward, it was so emotional. My dad was right there and we were both excited and we hugged and it was spur of the moment thing that everyone grabbed the picture of. That was a really cool moment.”
What was it like walking out for the state championship game?
“I didn’t realize how big it was there. We’d practiced, but seeing it empty and full are totally different. We were out on the floor before everyone got there. When we came out, I didn’t even know where anyone was sitting. I just saw a bunch of green. It was different. I’ve seen the Pacers play, but for us to be on that floor was unexplainable. It was awesome to see how big it was and the court was longer and shooting was a bit different. I wish I could do it again.”
What was it like coming off the court for the final time?
“It was breathtaking. When I was subbed out and ran over to the coaches, it was very emotional. This is something we’ve wanted to do since we were four. So to be able to do it with best friends and awesome coaches, I couldn’t put into words how awesome it was to hug them and be like ‘We did it.’ All the work we had done finally paid off.”
You won the Mental Attitude Award after the state championship. How did that feel?
“It’s hard to explain. There are so many characteristics you have to have just to get there. I thought the other team would get it then all my friends were telling me I was going to get it because the cameras were pointing at me and my family all got up and left in the middle of the game. It was awesome to be able to get it. I’m very blessed and thankful that I was able to get it and represent my school.”
Tell me a little bit about your softball season.
“That was fun, too. We didn’t have a good first three years while we were building the program. This year, our goal was to have more wins than losses. Going into it, we had a lot of potential. With one pitcher, you can’t do much. We wore Kenzie out. She did great, though. There is only so much you can do with one pitcher. We won more than we lost, so that’s a win.”
It always seems like you get on base, so what’s your plate approach?
“As leadoff, I had to get on. Hopefully someone would hit me in. When I get down in the count, I don’t do as well. So I jump on the first one. I’m always on the first two pitches and try and get on and hope to make the whole line start hitting. My objective is always to get on.”
What was it like playing with this core group of seniors?
“It means everything. Being on travel teams you don’t know each other. With this group, I know exactly what everyone is doing and they know exactly what I’m doing, so it makes it easier. We know what to call and what to do. I know what other people’s strengths are and they no mine. So in the moment, we don’t have to look at coach Bartley, we can just call it and do our own thing. I think that had a big influence on why we went to state. We’re such a tight group and we all wanted to do it and we all wanted to do it together. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else and I’m really glad I got to do it with them.”
If you could summarize your whole senior year, how would you do it?
“Unbelievable. Speechless and making history with my best friends. No one’s going to forget about us, that’s for sure. We’ve made an impact. Hopefully we bring good news and good things to Wood Memorial. I think I would summarize it by saying you can do anything with your best friends if you put your mind to it and nothing can stop you.”
Now you’re heading to Olney Central.
“I’m really excited. Sydney [Day] and I have been texting about room assignments and colors and all that stuff. That’s making me excited. I’m ready to get up there. To be on my own and do the college life with my best friend is a dream come true. To room with her and play both sports with her makes it easier. I’m excited and ready to go.”