Winter Sports Preview …
Success breeds confidence for Bishop Dwenger Saints
By Andrew Mentock
Bishop Dwenger plays in the Summit Athletic Conference — one of the tougher high school conferences in the state of Indiana — so the Saints have their work cut out for them. However, with a long history of success, Bishop Dwenger athletes are confident that they’ll continue their winning ways, no matter how good their competition this season is.
Bishop Dwenger’s basketball team, coached by Matt Kostoff, finished 11-13 last season, but is poised to have a winning record this season. The team has two returning starters: Campbell Donovan, a 6-foot senior guard who averaged 14 points per game last year, and Conlan Martin, another 6-foot senior guard, who averaged nine points per game. Several other players returned from last year’s team as well. Success will depend on development of the large players. The team needs to be able to defend inside, Kostoff said, and especially to rebound the basketball.
Coach Cleveland Inge is looking to continue to improve, just like he has done in each of his first three seasons as head coach. Last season, the girls’ basketball team went 15-7, and won the sectional championship in overtime by two points. “We expect to do a little bit better than we did last season,” said Inge, “We’re already playing together better this season. I’ve been really impressed.”
Two premier players this year will be low-post players Ellen Ross, a junior, and senior Josie Kolkman. “We are learning to rely on each other better than we did last season, which is why excitement and enthusiasm is so high,” said Inge.
Bishop Dwenger gymnastics is one of the most successful programs in Northern Indiana, having won five state championships since 1995. Their most recent state championship is from 2012. After finishing third in state last season, the team is looking to continue that history of success.
Team members are excited about the season and about the fact that they completed last year — which will help them with some of the younger gymnasts coming in. They will return three players who placed at state last season: senior Amy Weilbaker, and juniors Sophia Wright-Turflinger and Elian Cornwell.
Boys’ and girls’ swimming and diving
Sarah Keys is very excited to begin her second season coaching the Saints swimmers. They have a new assistant coach, Sarah Rinaldi, and Theresa Roberts returns as the diving coach. Both teams performed well in conference last season, with the boys finishing third and the girls finishing second. Both have increased the number of students participating, which will help them build on their success. Captains for the girls’ team are seniors Natalie Yehle and Lizzy Dolan and captains for the boys’ team are Josh Dickel and Spencer Frain.
Standout swimmers for the girls are senior Natalie Yehle, who just committed to swim at Youngstown State University next year (100 fly, 200 individual medley); All-SAC
junior Sydnee Trahin (100 backstroke, 500 Free), recipient of All SAC last season; freshman Laura Wright (100 breaststroke); and senior Grace Garret (diver).
“I fully expect the girls’ team to win all of their meets this season,” said Keys. “We have a tremendous amount of depth in all events, and our seniors are determined to end their careers with a winning season. … Our primary goal is to win the SAC meet.”
For the boys’ team, standout swimmers include senior Josh Dickel (100 breast); sophomore Andrei Halley (100 breast, 200 individual medley), recipient of All-SAC award last year; senior Jackson Heaton (200 free, 100 free); and senior Spencer Frain, (diver).
Coach John Tone and the Saints return 10 out of 14 starters from a team that was SAS co-champions last year.
“We are pretty high on this year’s team,” said Tone. “We have a lot of guys returning, so I expect us to do really well.” Two of the Saints’ returning players competed in semi-state last season. They are junior Josh Smith, who wrestled at 106 pounds, and senior Stephen Nix, who wrestled at 182 pounds. The team went 10-8 last season in dual meets, but many of the team’s events this season are larger tournaments, which is not the team’s forte.
“They wrestle hard and get after it,” said Tone. “Every point matters to them. They know it takes a team to win, and that’s why they do pretty well.”
Saint Joseph Indians to develop young teams
Warm fall weather created a fantastic start to the winter sports season for Saint Joseph High School. The Indians had a great fall sports season and are optimistic for a strong winter debut.
“We graduated all five starters, so experience will be a key factor for us. We will grow throughout the season and hopefully be peaking performance wise come playoffs,” said Head Coach Mike Bauer. Depth will be strength for the team.
“We could go as far as 12 deep. Our practices should be very competitive, so hopefully skill level will go up as the year progresses,” he added.
He felt that the team needs to get some experience for a lot of the players who have zero varsity play time, as an area in which the team needs work..
“Our goal is always the same — get better every day and win sectional,” said Bauer.
The Saint Joe Lady Indians basketball team greeted a new head coach this season with the hiring of 2007 alumnus Sydney Smallbone.
“This season we have a very tough schedule lined up. We have our NIC games, as well as several tough nonconference matchups. This should challenge us and hopefully prepare us for the postseason tournament.
“It’s hard to predict how the regular season will turn out. We will need to come focused and ready to play every game. We are looking to learn as the regular season progresses, and we plan on taking the postseason one game at a time,” stated Smallbone.
The team’s strength is a veteran varsity team this year. Their experience and knowledge are the biggest strength this season. According to Smallbone, leadership is an area the team will need to improve, but she is looking to have the upperclassmen step up and take ownership of the season. The goal? To win state.
According to Head Coach Dan Luther, this year’s team is a younger team with only two seniors. However, they do return two former semi-state qualifiers along with a couple regional qualifiers, so some wrestlers have high expectations for themselves.
“Our team’s strengths are their willingness to learn and to work hard. We have a group that we put through some of the toughest practices around, and they come back every day ready to work. We hope that we can make up for our inexperience with hard work,” noted Luther.
The areas they need to work on throughout the year are wrestling smarter and not making mistakes that potentially cost the team matches. Luther said this is common with inexperienced teams, and they are going to need some young guys to step up and grow up, wrestling-wise, during the season.
“Our goal is simply to get better every day and compete. If we have the mindset that we are going to leave it all on the mat no matter who we wrestle, we will get better and the team will see some success. And we have some individuals who have set their sights on making it to state, a goal that we all strive to reach every year,” said Luther.
“We have a fairly young team with only four seniors,” said hockey Head Coach Chris Kleva. “However, I’m expecting us to compete hard and be in every game. The Michiana High School Hockey League will be very competitive again this year, and I believe Saint Joe will be a contender.”
The Saint Joseph High School team has good depth. They don’t have any superstars, but they do have a lot of very good hockey players who want to compete. Playing together as a team, moving the puck and continued development will be keys to a successful season.
“With any team I’ve ever coached, we can always be better skaters. Skating is the most important skill of any player. If you can’t skate, it’s tough to do all the other things — passing, shooting, transitions etc. We work on our skating technique every practice,” said Kleva, of areas the team will work on. “Our defensive play is another focal point. We have a young defensive crew and young goaltending, so team defense will be stressed.”
The goal every season is to win the league championship, the city tournament and then a state title. Beyond that, Kleva said, it’s about playing together as a team, competing hard, learning how to win and how to lose (as a team) and, most importantly, having fun.
Marian Knights look to repeat past accomplishments
Marian High School coaches and athletes are getting ready for another exciting winter sports season. Many of the teams are young, but they are also full of talent. Teams such as basketball are looking to continue their dominance, while other programs hope to show that they are one of the top teams in the Northern Indiana Conference.
Last year’s sectional champions are looking to continue their outstanding 42-6 record over the past two seasons. After losing three important seniors, including last year’s conference MVP, the Knights will be young. However, they have a history of being loaded with talent, having boasted five of the last six conference MVPs. The team’s two most important returning players are juniors: point guard Michael Hemingway and shooting guard Zach Lattimer, who averaged nearly 10 points per game and received an Northern Indiana Conference honorable mention.
Marian girls’ basketball is looking to build on the experience of last year’s season, when they went 8-15. Many of their young players are returning and developed a lot of skill after playing in several big 2015-16 games. Their goal is to play team basketball on both ends of the floor.
Two potential standout players are junior guard Meghan Urbanski, All-Conference honorable mention in the NIC last season, and senior guard Libby Priller, who will provide the team with key leadership.
Marian club hockey combines its team with John Adams Public High school and participates in the Michiana High School Hockey League. After a losing record last year, the team is already off to a good start this year.
Only three seniors appear on the roster. On the offensive side, the team is lead by senior Sean Bird, junior Alex Bonaventura and sophomore Riley Jamieson, the team’s leading scorer last season. On defense, juniors Edward Kubaszak and Kamren Cochran return to anchor.
“I expect the team to be competitive on a nightly basis. We have shown improvement even in our first 10 games, and I expect that trend to continue,” said head coach Mike Jamieson. “Last season, the team missed playing for the Indiana 2A state title by one game. I think if we keep making strides, we will have an excellent chance at finishing what we started last season.”
Boys’ and girls’ swimming and diving
Both the boys and girls teams went 2-10 last season. Despite those regular season losses, both improved their ranking in the NIC finals, landing seventh out of 10. This year, they hope to move up again in the NIC and continue improving their season record. The team has grown for the third year in a row and already looks strong and determined.
Team captains for the girls are seniors Molly Pendergast and Anna Pierce, who are extremely excited to finish their high school careers on a high note. The boys had not chosen captains by press time.
The team includes impressive young swimmers from whom the coaches expect great displays of athleticism, including sophomores Filip Kosel (100 fly, 50 free), Cody Mowers (500 free) and Gracie Molnar (100 breast). In addition, junior Josh Richardson competed in the state competition for diving last year, his third year in a row accomplishing the feat.
The Marian swimming and diving teams welcomed several new coaches this year, including Caila Poythress, a St. Mary’s graduate and swimmer, and also a Marian teacher; Libby Foldesi, a dedicated Marian parent who is coaching diving, and recent Marian graduate Gavin Miller.
This is Heather McClain’s fifth year as the head coach of the Marian dance team. There are eight returning members and 11 new members, passionately lead by sole senior Madalyn King. The 2016-17 team will compete with the Indiana High School Dance Team Association in Varsity A Pom and Varsity A Jazz, and McClain will be assisted by Beth Kuminecz and Hayley Fixler.
Once again team members have been afforded the opportunity to work with M2 Dance Center in Schererville to further their skills and receive outstanding choreography for a competition jazz routine.
McClain and the team say they are humbled by continued support from the Marian community. “It truly means the world to have an administration, staff, parents and friends who see the importance of our program and help us to be successful. Thank you for believing in us, for coming to our performances and for spending hours cheering us on at competitions,” she said. “We appreciate each and every one of you.”
Bishop Luers winter athletes are ‘ready to shine’
The Bishop Luers Knights boys’ basketball team returns to action with six seniors. Among that group, Anton Berry, JJ Foster and Ray Walker are receiving interest from coaches at the college level. Sophomore Sydney Curry, after a good freshman year, is increasingly mature and focused and is expected to shoulder a larger load this season. Also returning are Alex Nahr, Blane Cook and Jason Davis.
This group has finished no lower than the upper half of the conference their first two years, and they were fourth last year. Each of those three years, they exceeded all expectations. The last two years, they came close to winning sectional championships. This year’s team continues the tradition of talent, and much will depend on the young men supporting those six seniors. The Knights’ coaching staff believes that if this team “can feed off their past disappointments and utilize their talents and experience, they will have a fun and productive season.
This year’s schedule features games against top Indianapolis teams, as well as state champion Marion and the always-competitive Summit Athletic Conference teams. It’s a tough schedule, and the team will have opportunities to find out just where they fit among Indiana’s elite. Coach John Foster stated, “Our students are the light of the world, and letting that light shine is our point of interest this season.”
Last year the girls’ basketball team had a very respectable season both in out of conference games as well as within the SAC. Improving upon a few key points will go a long way toward getting over the hump and finishing at the very top of the conference.
Head girls’ varsity basketball Coach Mark Pixley returns a team that went 14-10 overall and finished second in the SAC conference last year, with a 7-2 record. Key returning players are Katrina Knapke and Taylor Bradley. Last year Knapke averaged seven points per game, along with six rebounds. Meanwhile, teammate Taylor Bradley contributed seven points per game and seven rebounds.
Anaya Johnson, Shea Biglands and Lydia Reimbold are the guards taking over for last year’s graduating seniors. Coach Pixley stated that the 2016-17 edition of the Bishop Luers team “will be a young team, but the goal will be to get better with every game.” They want to be “ready for the sectionals so our players can play the best basketball of the season.”
Swimming and diving
Swimming and diving season is underway. Coaches include Tricia Koob and assistant Pam Lunsford. The team graduated 11 seniors last year, but this year’s team has three seniors — Fabiana Cotton, AJ Gill and Olivia Koob — who Coach Tricia Koob expects to have key leadership roles. Those student-athletes are Fabiana Cotton, AJ Gill and Olivia Koob.
Last year’s team turned in great performances at the SAC meet, from both boys and girls. AJ Gill, Brock Lombardo and Alex Maldeney were All-SAC. Building on last year’s successes, there’s an expectation of a strong SAC finish for the boys and a fourth place or higher finish for the girls. Coach Koob stated that “both AJ and Brock are capable of All-SAC again this year, and freshmen Jack Gill and Madeline Pape are hopefuls for that honor as well. These freshmen will be difference-makers for our team.
“Something our team needs to overcome is our size. Swimmers and divers are limited in how many events they can be in. We can’t win with a few first-place finishes,” she pointed out. “We need the depth to be able to score with two or three swimmers in each event. That’s a challenge for a small team.”
Wrestling is a winter sport that sometimes takes a back seat in popularity, but there’s no reason for that to happen this year at Bishop Luers. Head Coach Rod Bolden has a capable team, returning several student-athletes from last year’s squad, including three returning seniors: Luke Fisher, Gage Malott and De’Vion Swain. As regional qualifiers last year, the five other individuals are eager to advance further, to the state tournament: Gage Malott, Luke Fisher, Ben Frecker, Mitch Gigli and Chandler Woenker.
With the regional experience, Malott and Fisher will shoulder a leadership role. In addition, Fisher was an alternate at semi-state; Woenker qualified for semi-state and was an alternate for the state championship. These returning wrestlers look to build on their previous success. Coach Bolden wants it known that “we also have a good group of young wrestlers working hard to have success of their own.” It’s an eager group; these Knights are anxious to prove themselves this season both locally and at the state level.
Bishop Luers, though lacking in required equipment, does have two sophomores participating in gymnastics for the school. Stephanie Lee and Isabelle Scofield started making waves last year as freshmen, when they competed in the All-Around as varsity gymnasts.
Because of the team’s size, the Bishop Luers gymnastic team has joined forces with the Bishop Dwenger gymnastic team. Lee and Scofield will again compete in the All-Around on varsity, and they are looking forward to another great season representing the Knights. The first meet is Jan. 17 at Bishop Dwenger against a talented DeKalb team. Although small in number, the team members say they are “big in heart,” and hope their year-round training pays off in a successful season.