Top of her class: Guisfredi a leader in high school and college alike

Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics Michigan Tech’s Angela Guisfredi drives around a block by teammate Lindsey Lindstrom during a game at the Wood Gym.

TRAVERSE CITY — Lake Linden-Hubbbell schools have produced many outstanding female athletes over the years.

Names like Jill Lewis, Eileen Lajimodiere, Kristen Nichols, Jackie Keranen and Sarah Audette immediately come to mind as great performers for the Lakes.

But Angela (Guisfredi) VanWagner surpassed all of them, using a great work ethic. She took her skills to Michigan Tech, where she continued to excel.

Her father, Gary, recalled her first recruiting meeting with then MTU women’s basketball coach John Barnes.

“He (Barnes) told her she may never get on the floor because of all the talent on the team,” Gary Guisfredi recalled. “She ended up setting a school record for most games (130) played in a career.”

Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics Michigan Tech’s Angela Guisfredi releases a long jump shot during a game against Tiffin at the Wood Gym.

VanWagner was also a key member of the 2010-11 Tech squad that reached the Divison II championship game versus Clayton State. No other local cager has ever achieved that distinction.

“Just being at the Final Four was a really big thrill,” she recalled recently. “And to get there two years in a row with that group of girls was unbelievable. They were great teammates.”

MTU had a juggernaut in those days and reached the No. 1 ranking in the nation with a 31-3 record in her senior year.

Barnes said his team had the right mixture of talent.

“We were very strong in the backcourt with Sam Hoyt, Sarah Stream and Angela (Guisfredi) and we had size and depth up front,” he said.

Center Katie Wysocky provided the scoring punch, leading the team in scoring.

For her part, VanWagner said that 2011 finals opponent Clayton State was “tall and fast.”

“They were really a good team. We stuck with them for a half, but they wore us down.”

Besides holding the school record for most games played, Angela also set a season record for three-point percentage as a senior.

A fine defensive player, she also earned laurels on the All-GLIAC team.

“Angie is such a well-rounded player that she’s going to help you anywhere you put her,” Barnes said.

That she should end up in sports was no surprise to most observers. The youngest daughter of former Jeffers High standout Gary Guisfredi and wife Jackie, she recalls spending many hours at “ball fields and basketball courts,” watching her father.

“My sandbox was in baseball dugouts around the area,” she said with a laugh.

By the time she reached high school, Angela was ready to step in and help LL-H teams.

Her 1,331 points set a LL-H career mark for points, beating Lewis and Nichols by a wide margin. Angela gained All-U.P. and All-State honors after averaging 18.8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists a game.

She was equally effective in volleyball and track, gaining all-league laurels in the former and all-state honors in the latter.

Lakes coach Maureen Schick, who coached her in both basketball and volleyball, said her competitive spirit set her aside.

“The thing about Angela is that she was always ready to play,” Schick commented. “She wants to win and that shows.”

Schick also had the chance to a be her teammate in the Copper Country Women’s Softball League.

“She was a sound all-around player; she could hit, field and run,” Schick noted.

The valedictorian in her high school class, she continued to shine in the classroom at Michigan Tech with a 3.93 GPA. That accomplishment earned her special recognition from the NCAA and GLIAC.

While at MTU, she met Mike VanWagner, who was on the Huskies’ hockey team and grew up in the Traverse City area. He is the son of late Tech All-American football player Jim VanWagner.

The two were married after they graduated.

The couple attended Michigan State University for four years and Angela gained her doctorate degree this past spring as an emergency department doctor.

Mike, who is working to become an orthopedic surgeon, has one year of study left at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Angela is in the Traverse City area.

They would like to settle down in the Traverse City area after all the work is completed.

“We’ve talked about it and decided that would be the ideal spot,” she said. “It’s close to home for both of us.”