Having a player named as the WIAC Defensive Player of the Year has almost become an annual event for the UW-Whitewater football team.
Junior Mackenzie Balanganayi is the latest Warhawk to earn the honor. Balanganayi is the third Warhawk in the past four seasons to be named the top defensive player in the WIAC.
The All-WIAC squads were announced Thursday. Sixteen Warhawks earned honors, led by Balanganayi.
Balanganayi enters Saturday’s NCAA Division III first-round playoff game against Monmouth (Ill.) ranked among the top five in the WIAC in both sacks (9) and tackles for loss (12). He ranked 45th in the conference with 42 tackles.
Balanganayi is joined on the All-WIAC first team by senior defensive lineman Jordan Brand; junior offensive lineman Kyle Gannon; junior linebacker Kaleb Kaminski; junior defensive back Mark McGrath; junior offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz; junior running back Alex Peete, and junior receiver Ryan Wisniewski.
Two area high school graduates were honored.
Beloit Turner High graduate Justin Hansen, a senior defensive lineman on the Warhawks, earned second-team honors.
Milton High graduate Victor Martinelli earned a first-team spot on defense. A 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker at UW-Eau Claire, Martinelli was in on 68 tackles. He tied for second in the conference in tackles for loss with 13.5, while also recording seven sacks.
Martinelli was a terror on special teaems, blocking a total of five punts and field goals.