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ASPIRE Athlete Of The Week For Jan. 24, 2014: Carlie Wagner

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Carlie Wagner is a hooper and a hunter.

She is also the biggest name in the senior class of girls basketball this season.

On a bitter winter day in New Richland, you’ll find her in an empty gym, honing her craft.

“I just feel like I can do anything in here,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about what’s going on.”

The gym is where she thrives. In the big arena last year, she took her team to a title and turned heads in the basketball world.

“Whenever I’m at the state tournament, something inside me clicks, and I just want to go,” Wagner said. “I’m really competitive, and it’s my teammates, too. They get really pumped up and fired up.”

And it’s not lost on her what her team’s success has meant to her school and her town.

“We are a really tight-knit community,” Wagner said, “and basketball is a really big thing that we like to do together.”

You do that by winning games. In her case, by taking them over.

“You just don’t see that,” said coach John Schultz. “She’s above normal.”

Next year she will join another legendary high school guard who now starts at the University of Minnesota, Rachel Banham.

“She’s incredible,” Wagner said. “There’s nothing that girl can’t do.”

Staying in Minnesota is important to Wagner, because of family and a love for hunting deer and turkey.

“It’s a different thrill,” she said. “In basketball, you get a more joyful thrill, it’s exciting. But when you see a deer, it’s a more nervous thrill, and your heart starts fluttering.”

This winter she will focus on leading her high school team once more to a state championship.

“As a leader for us,” Schultz said, “[Wagner’s] is the voice you hear at halftime. That’s the voice you hear on the floor. She’s very kind to everybody, but she’s also very competitive. So it puts her in a bind. But when it’s game time, it’s the competitive part that we see more in her.”

Wagner says that once you get a taste of success, you want it again.

“{Playing at state] was so much fun,” she said. “Probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in my life so far.”

Wagner’s school is represented by four communities: New Richland, Hartland, Ellendale and Geneva.

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