Jordan Buelow will compete on the Beryl Newman Stadium track for the final time Monday.
The WIAA Division 1 regional meet — and any ensuing postseason events — will cap off Buelow’s four-year run of competition at Baraboo High School, during which she earned seven varsity letters and captained two teams. That prolonged stretch of athletic success and leadership made Buelow Baraboo’s 2021 Outstanding Senior Female Athlete.
“I believe I was chosen for this award because I feel I am a well-rounded athlete and leader,” Buelow said of an award that dates back to Emily Schlender in 1998-99. “I not only succeeded in athletics but excelled in the classroom and have spent lots of time giving back to the community through volunteer activities. I built relationships with teammates and coaches while showing respect and kindness to all. I have always strived to be an uplifting, friendly and supportive individual.
“The high school sports experience is one I will always remember. It was the time where I grew more in love with the game of volleyball and learned I could run fast. I made so many new friends along the way, formed relationships with the staff and coaches around me, and created so many memories I will never forget.”
Buelow, who plans to attend Madison College in the fall to pursue a degree in medical administration, also left an impression on her teammates and coaches.
“Jordan is a very hardworking athlete who set high standards not only for herself but her team,” Baraboo volleyball coach Yvette Updike said. “She is an unselfish athlete who never complained or cared who got the credit as long as the task at hand was successful. Jordan is a true leader — both on and off the court — and is a true role model for everyone around her.”
“She has been a selfless leader as a captain who’s genuine attitude has really cultivated a welcoming team culture,” Baraboo girls track coach Nick Geiger said. “There is no secret formula to become a successful high school athlete. It really comes down to taking advantage of opportunities given to you, having a positive attitude and not taking shortcuts. Jordan’s athletic talent and years of accountability make her well deserving of this award.”
Buelow’s varsity career began during track season in the spring of 2018. She went on to earn four letters in track and three in volleyball. Along with captaining the volleyball team as a junior and senior, she was named the team MVP once and receiving the hustle award twice. On the track, she was Baraboo’s Outstanding Freshman in 2018, a captain in 2021 and teamed up with Jamie Runnels, Jennifer Arias and Chloe Uphoff to take 19th in the 800-meter relay (1:45.94) and 21st in the 400-meter relay (:50.49) at the 2019 WIAA Division 1 state track and field championships in La Crosse.
“The moment I crossed the finish line (at sectionals) will stick with me forever. It was a moment of pure joy as I had tears lining my face and a smile from ear to ear,” said Buelow of anchoring both state-qualifying relays. “I ran to my relay girls after the race and gave each of them the biggest of hugs. I was greeted by my coaches, Nick Geiger, Jordan Pethan and Morgan Liebetrau, with such big smiles and a huge congratulations. I was surrounded by some of the most influential people in my life, including my parents, coaches and beloved teammates, which made the moment a whole lot sweeter.”
A frequent participant in school and community events, Buelow stayed visible while off the volleyball court and track. She won the Gold B, which Baraboo awards to student-athletes that display character and leadership. She also received the WIAA Scholar Athlete Award and was a member of Key Club, Link Crew, Leadership Council and National Honor Society.
Buelow was also frequently in the crowd supporting her classmates.
“I not only loved playing sports, I loved watching them,” she said. “Being able to watch my classmates excel in their sports, cheer them on and learn the dynamic of each game was definitely another great experience high school sports has to offer. These experiences are a period of my life I will always remember and can look back and smile about. It’s a closed chapter, but a memorable one.”
One of Buelow’s earliest high school sports memories came during her first Badger North Conference volleyball match. The Thunderbirds suffered a 3-0 loss at Mount Horeb on Aug. 30, 2018, but Buelow came away feeling more comfortable with her role on a veteran team. The T-Birds went on to go 24-12 that season, tying Mount Horeb for third in the Badger North.
“Having been my first year on the varsity volleyball team and being the starting setter amongst a group of almost all seniors, I was quite intimidated,” Buelow said of the Mount Horeb match. “I really let my nerves get to me and I had a poor performance, resulting in Coach (Morgan) Liebetrau to continually correct my errors. It was that moment when I continued to mess up that she called a timeout and pulled me aside.
“Instead of being yelled at, she looked at me and told me that she believed in me. She continued to tell me that I was on this team for a reason and to go out there and be a leader even though I was young. She knew I had it in me. I really took this talk to heart and went into the game knowing I did have the skill and am so dearly supported by everyone around me, including my coach, who I really looked up to. To this day, I can say I went into each volleyball season knowing I could do it and was always reminded to be the best leader and setter I could be — all from a simple conversation sophomore year.”
Buelow’s senior athlete award comes at the conclusion of a tumultuous year-plus. The COVID-19 pandemic canceled her junior track season, eliminated volleyball crowds, changed the format of education, reduced social opportunities and shortened her senior track schedule. However, Buelow will walk off the track for the final time feeling thankful for the opportunities she received.
“Senior year is a special year for everyone, but this year especially is very memorable,” she said. “The way each person handled the situation really determined the outcome of the year. I could have sulked at home about how my senior year was crummy, but instead I was able to get out and be involved while making some final memories even with our limitations. I got to experience our senior prom, an in-person graduation with our whole grade and played my final sports seasons.
“Even though I didn’t get to attend Friday night football games, dances or see the normal amount of spectators at my games, I am thankful I didn’t have everything stripped away from me. Yes, the year wasn’t normal, but normal enough for me. I got to say my goodbyes in person and have one last go-around to some extent. It was better than nothing and I am thankful for that.”
Follow Brock Fritz on Twitter @BrockFritz or contact him at 608-963-0344.