SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Another banner spring sports season has
reaped rich rewards for 51 Wittenberg University athletes who were
selected to All-North Coast Athletic Conference teams over the last
Announcements for men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's tennis, softball and baseball have come in separate releases from the NCAC office over the last two weeks. Individual finishes at conference championship events held May 2-3 determined all-conference selections in golf and men's and women's track.
Two Wittenberg athletes were chosen as an NCAC Player of the Year for a spring sport. Senior softball outfielder Beth Walters (Westerville, Ohio/DeSales) was named Player of the Year and junior men's track standout Tim Gaal (Amanda, Ohio/Clearcreek) was named Field Events Athlete of the Year. It was the first such honor for Walters and Gaal.
In addition, three Tiger coaches were named Coach of the Year in their respective sport. Men's and women's tennis Head Coach Dave Engle earned the award on the men's side for the second time in his seven seasons at the helm, softball Head Coach Becky Hall claimed her second such award in her five seasons leading the team and women's lacrosse Head Coach Nancy Beck earned the honor for the first time in her 17 years leading the Tigers.
In softball, Wittenberg finished second in the NCAC regular season with a 10-4 record before coming up big with three straight wins in the conference tournament championship to advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament. After one win, the first in school history, in three games at the Great Lakes Region, Wittenberg concluded the 2003 season with a 25-21 overall record.
The Tigers placed five players on the All-NCAC first team - Walters, sophomore utility player Norah Gillam (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield), sophomore second baseman Katie Niemeyer (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay), junior outfielder Carmen Montgomery (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern) and junior catcher Kristen Hillebrand (Cincinnati, Ohio/McAuley). It was the second straight first-team honor for Walters and Gillam, who doubled as the NCAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Sophomore pitcher Jen Fleming (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne) was named Honorable Mention All-NCAC.
The men's tennis team concluded another outstanding season with a 15-5 overall record and a best-ever second-place finish in the NCAC tournament. Senior No. 1 player Casey Clagett (Steamboat Springs, Colo./Steamboat Springs) was named first-team All-NCAC for a second straight year, earning such honors for both singles and doubles, and he concluded his career with an appearance in the NCAA Division III Singles Tournament. Senior Mike Herzog (Springfield, Ohio/Northwestern) claimed first-team All-NCAC honors in doubles after pairing with Clagett. Junior No. 2 singles player Duby Lakos (Lynchburg, Va./Heritage) was named second-team All-NCAC for the first all-conference honors of his career. And senior Eric Cusick (Lima, Ohio/Senior), who had the team's best singles record at 23-6 at the No. 3 position, made honorable mention, the third time he has claimed an all-conference award.
The women's tennis team posted an overall record of 11-8 and an NCAC mark of 6-2, including a third-place finish at the conference tournament. Sophomore No. 1 player Emily Figel (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Homestead) was named first-team All-NCAC for a second straight year, and senior No. 2 singles player Shannon Oliphant (Columbus, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) joined her on the top team for the first time in her career. Figel and Oliphant also earned first-team All-NCAC honors as a doubles team after they posted a 13-6 overall record. In addition, sophomore Sarah Fassler (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Ursula) was chosen for honorable mention all-conference after playing strong at the No. 3 singles position.
Track athletes earn All-NCAC recognition with a top-three finish in the NCAC meet. The Tiger men claimed second place in the championship meet and have two athletes who are provisionally qualified for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 22-24 in Canton, NY. The Tiger women finished fourth. Tim Gaal was the biggest individual story for Wittenberg as he earned NCAC Field Events Athlete of the Year for finishing first in the decathlon and javelin, third in the long jump, sixth in the high jump and eighth in the pole vault. He is an NCAA provisional qualifier in the decathlon and javelin, an event in which he placed 11th in the nation a year ago.
Junior Skip Ivery (Columbus, Ohio/Groveport-Madison) extended his dominance in the high hurdles events, winning his third straight NCAC outdoor 110-meter hurdles championship. He also has two NCAC indoor 55-meter hurdles championships and finished second in the nation in that event in March. He is an NCAA provisional qualifier.
Other individual champions on the men's side were senior Curtis Lundgren (Alliance, Ohio/Alliance) in the 800 meters, junior Joel Drake (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) in the discus and sophomore Joe Rumschlag (Maumee, Ohio/Toledo Christian) in the long jump. Making All-NCAC were Drake with a second place in the shot put, freshman Jered Glover (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) with third place finishes in the 200 meters and triple jump, sophomore Clyde Mayer (Hilliard, Ohio/Davidson) with a third in the discus and sophomore Jason Toman (Greenville, Ohio/Greenville) with a second in the 400-meter hurdles.
In addition, the 400-meter relay quartet of freshman David Bazzel (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe), junior Demetrius Ellison (Cleveland, Ohio/Trinity), senior Mark Trempe (Springfield, Ohio/St. Paris Graham) and Ivery finished second and the 1600-meter relay foursome of Lundgren, Trempe, Ellison and sophomore Chad Kresser (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay) finished third.
On the women's side, junior Kristen Mumper (Cincinnati, Ohio/Purcell Marian) finished first in the triple jump and third in the long jump to claim a pair of All-NCAC awards. Junior Geri Woessner (Dayton, Ohio/Oakwood) claimed second in the heptathlon and third in the javelin, senior Amanda Young (London, Ohio/London) finished first in the high jump, senior Abi Gerstle (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont) turned in a school-record time of 11:40.19 in finishing second in the 3000-meter steeplechase, junior Kelly Zilli (Dayton, Ohio/Alter) finished first in the 800 meters and sophomore Ayisha Kinamore (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) was second in the 400-meter hurdles.
In addition, the 400-meter relay quartet of sophomore Tina Valerius (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Notre Dame), sophomore Marissa Davoll (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson), Mumper and Kinamore took third place to gain All-NCAC honors. The 1600-meter relay foursome of freshman Anna Finkelstein (Whitehall, Mich./Reeths-Puffer), Davoll, Valerius and Zilli finished second.
In women's lacrosse, the Tigers started the season with four straight losses but came on strong to put together one of the best records in school history at 8-6 overall and a school-record 5-2 in the NCAC. Senior defender Cara Romanowski (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley), the Wittenberg record-holder for career goals scored and the 2002 NCAC Defensive Player of the Year, junior defender Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) and sophomore attacker Jenny Burns (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman), the team's leading scorer, were named first-team All-NCAC for their outstanding play in 2003.
Sophomore midfielder Rachel Ridgeway (Montclair, NJ/The Taft School) made second team all-conference. Sophomore attacker Erin Kelly (Edina, Minn./Edina) and senior goalkeeper Rebecca Russ (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart) made honorable mention All-NCAC.
In golf, Wittenberg finished fifth in a loaded NCAC field that included three NCAA Division III Tournament teams. Leading the charge were sophomore Andy Bonar (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) and freshman Clinton Anderson (Mechanicsburg, Ohio/Mechanicsburg), who earned first and second-team All-NCAC honors respectively. Bonar finished third, up from sixth a year ago, in the NCAC tournament at Oberlin Golf Club, while Anderson tied for 10th.
The Wittenberg baseball team finished the year 17-22-1 overall and 4-12 in the NCAC West Division, missing out on the NCAC Tournament for the first time since 2000. Senior Ryan Born (Marion, Ohio/Pleasant), the team's leading hitter with a .411 batting average and 40 runs batted in, claimed first-team All-NCAC honors. Freshman shortstop K.R. Schlievert (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay) and sophomore outfielder Matt Foster (Granville, Ohio/Granville) were awarded Honorable Mention status.
Rounding things out, the Tiger men's lacrosse team finished with records of 4-9 overall and 1-4 in the NCAC. Senior attacker Dan Patterson (St. Louis, Mo./DeSmet Jesuit) earned first-team All-NCAC honors after leading the team in scoring and serving as team captain. Freshman defender Jonathan Smiley (Worthington, Ohio/Kilbourne) garnered second-team honors in his inaugural collegiate season.
Four Tiger players also made honorable mention All-NCAC: sophomore attacker Trevor Carlson (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington), senior midfielder Ross Mellgren (Toledo, Ohio/Sylvania Northview), junior midfielder Hans Rydquist (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) and junior goalkeeper Kyle Prussing (Concord, Mass./Concord-Carlisle).