Fort Wayne high schools prepare for spring sports
FORT WAYNE — Despite having one of the coldest winters on record with mountains of snowfall, the Fort Wayne area Catholic high schools are heating up for their 2014 spring seasons. With warmer weather just around the corner, both Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers are hopeful to be battling for league titles in the Summit Athletic Conference (SAC), as well as contending for deep runs in the post season on the courts, fields, links and track.
The Knights’ golf team is coming off a perfect 7-0 regular season conference record in 2013 — an all-time Luers best and graduated stand out Joe Leja, but Coach Tom O’Brien is hopeful 2014 will be a great season. Returning varsity linksters are senior Joe Korjenek and junior Conner Nix.
In his second season at Bishop Luers, Coach Jerry Rahrig and the girls’ tennis team are coming off an overall 13-3 record and first place finish (7-0) in the SAC from 2013. Three starters return in seniors Natalie Rahrig (All-District, All-Conference at No. 1 singles), Maddie Brown (All-Conference at No. 2 singles) and Sabrina Streicher, for what Coach Rahrig is calling a transitional year.
“I expect Bishop Luers to again be competitive,” Coach Rahrig said. “We have some very strong returning players for 2014. As is always the case in our area, there will be some new talent entering the scene to challenge the established players.”
Senior Jessica Franke also returns.
The Knights will try to regroup this year after losing eight seniors. Luers returns experience on the mound in sophomores Noah Hoeffel, Brandon Diss and Logan Gallaway. Senior Austin Rybicki and junior Travis Eckert also saw time on the mound for the Knights and will be joined by newcomer Trinton Arambula.
Bishop Luers is returning five starters from last year’s team who finished, 17-10, and lost in the sectional finals to Adams Central (regional champs): Austin Mack, Austin Rybicki, Schuyler Aghabekian, Isiah Jones and Jake Schultheis.
In his 28th season at Bishop Luers, Coach Gary Rogers (415-372) predicted, “Luers has a good nucleus of young that should improve as the season progresses. The Knights’ experience on the mound will have to keep opponents close until our hitters can prove that they are capable of producing runs.”
Coach Jason Draper’s squad returns seniors Brandon Volmerding and Isaac Case for the boys, along with underclassman Steve Moore, Matt Paris, Devin Fritz, Alex Williams and Ronnie Archuletta. On the girls’ side, Madison Busch, Corinne Zay, Jael Jones, Takyra Merritt, Kaitlin Emmett, Amanda Rectanus, Audrey Deiser and Isabella Case are back for the Knights.
In his 13th season as head coach at Bishop Luers, Jeff Doll is ready for the challenges that lie ahead after losing most of his roster to graduation a year ago. The Knights finished with an impressive 18-6 record a year ago and were runner-ups in the conference at 6-1. They return two seniors: Milesia Hogue and short stop Miranda Malott, while Dana Boretzky, Taya Andrews and Emma Wolfe are also back. Carolina Garcia will see time on the mound in 2014.
The Bishop Luers lacrosse roster lists 14 members on its varsity slate. The young men have a full schedule through the spring months of April and May. The Knights suffered an early loss to Concordia and will face Bishop Chatard, Homestead, Evansville Castle and Snider next.
The coaching staff may be all new in title, but the faces are familiar to the program. Bishop Dwenger alumni and former player Jason Garrett is at the helm for his rookie season, replacing Coach Tone. With a mantra, “It’s Time,” he and his staff are planning to build a winning tradition behind the returning leadership of first-team All-SAC selections, Luke Palmer (outfield) and Justin Wagoner (second base) along with second-team picks from 2013, Skylar Noll (third base) and Cody Miller (catcher). “We have special team chemistry,” explained Garrett, whose Saints have already bonded through some pre-season adversity.
Seniors Spencer Gillig, Drake Eifert, Jake Leonard and Michael Filler return to lead the Saints this season. “We have a lot of depth and the potential to be good golfers,” explained long-time Coach Dave Scudder. Bishop Dwenger hopes for a return trip to the state round after a seventh place finish a year ago. Only in recent years has Scudder’s program been advancing as a team, “It’s a lot more fun to go to state as a team than just a few individuals like in the early years,” he added.
In girls’ tennis action, the Saints will have a full schedule this spring season. Bishop Dwenger will face foes Carroll, Bellmont and Snider in early season matches.
Coach Beth Peters replaces the longtime leader of the decorated program, Dave Moyer, who has moved schools to coach his daughter.
Phenomenal leadership, talent and experience of seniors Jordan Schneider (St. Joseph’s College), Sierra Fisher, Ali Irvine (University of Huntington), Allie Dennie (DePauw) and Demitra Burns (Cardinal Stritch) will lead the Saints.
Left fielder Amanda Miller and sophomore lefty Kristina Burkhardt also return. Hard work, leadership and positivity are the motto for 2014.
“We have been dedicated to the program since open field practices last fall and intense winter conditioning that has carried through into our season,” explained Peters who is a Bishop Luers graduate and played for St. Joseph’s College.
Peters concluded, “We have high goals for the team and will work hard to put ourselves as one of the top teams in the state. It will have to be a complete team effort, but so far, the girls are extremely committed to this team goal.”
The 2014 SAC indoor champs hope to continue their success outdoors this season returning several 2013 regional qualifiers in Barney Schrader, Marcus Lowe, Jr., Eric Cagnet, Matt Krach and Tyler Adgalanis, along with state pole vault finalist Jared Schipper (regional long jump) and state mile run finalist Greg Tippmann, (regional 800-meter). Of the 62 young men on the Saints’ roster, six have plans to continue their career at the college level. Loaded with talent this season, Coach Herb Widner looks ahead, “We hope to stay healthy and improve each day.”
Mikayla Hudson and Maria Bobay, both shot and discus throwers, return to represent the senior class for the Bishop Dwenger Saints this season. Others also back to provide depth and leadership on the track for 2014 are Megan Coffin (state high jump finalist), Gretta Winkeljohn (shot put), Erin Kilbane (middle distance), Mary Momper (long distance) and Abby McCraw (sprints). Coach Erin Brady also lists distance runners Abby and Megan Brelage, incoming sprinter Amy Weilbaker and returning sprinter Rachel Gibson as athletes to watch.
Brady summarized, “We have some new athletes and many willing to try new events. This will be an exciting season with many young ladies who are ambitious and motivated.”
Saint Joseph High School
SOUTH BEND — A slow start to the season has caused frustration for coaches but optimism runs strong for the Indians’ spring sports teams.
“This season should be very exciting. We have a chance to be very good, with returning players Kelly Welsh, Anna Irons, Rachel Cole, Maggie Gillis, Libby Peterson, Katie Sopczynski, Kaley Mrozinski, and Allyssa Guitierez — and the emergence of Emma Marlatt and Brooke Juday. We are young but most of these players got a lot of experience last year. If we continue to improve and mesh together as a team, we can challenge for the conference and sectional titles,” said head softball Coach Earl Keith.
The group has the strength of speed and softball intelligence on their side.
“Team chemistry is definitely a strong point! Our pitching and defense will be solid and should get better as the season progresses,” noted Keith.
Keith feels the team will need to improve their outfield play and be more aggressive on offense to take the game to the next step.
“Our goals are simple, win our conference and win a state title. To do that, we need to keep improving together, stay healthy and make sure our team chemistry remains positive,” said Keith.
“We should be a much more balanced team with greater depth,” said head boys’ lacrosse Coach Mike Williams about his prediction for this year’s team.
Strength for this year is the return of several key players.
“We only graduated a small handful of seniors last year, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Both of our varsity goalies return and all but two of our defensemen have varsity playing experience,” commented Williams.
Lots of changes in the sport of lacrosse will create needed learning opportunities for the upcoming season.
“Lacrosse has experienced tremendous growth in the region over the past two years, specifically at the youth level. ICCL lacrosse alone has over 250 players from grades 3-8. With this increased growth comes many new players with little experience who we have to develop into contributing members of our team,” said Williams.
The team’s goal this year is to win the Indiana Catholic Conference as well as reach at minimum an IHSLA final four.
“The 2014 season is promising for our girls’ lacrosse program. We have many leaders among our 10 returning seniors, eight outstanding juniors and one talented sophomore. I predict, our team has what it takes to make it to state this season as long as we continue to buckle down and keep up the hard work,” said girls’ lacrosse head Coach Katie Neeser.
The team brings back a lot of strength and chemistry to the field.
“We have many returning players who understand the ‘small’ things are what decide the game. The team works well together and they have an understanding of each other. Also our speed and skilled defense are definitely helpful,” noted Neeser.
The team is still looking to develop their attack and find the big playmakers this upcoming season.
“Our goals this season are to work together as a unit, to earn respect from our opponents by having exceptional sportsmanship and showing how competitive we are and, of course, bringing home the state trophy,” said Neeser.
Coach Bret Bajdek is hoping for some sunny weather and warmer temperatures to get the golf season rolling.
“We have a lot of experience coming back … six different guys who played in two or more varsity matches last season,” said Bajdek about the team’s strengths.
“Now that we have some experience, we need to get more consistent,” commented Bajdek about areas the team needs to work on during the season. “We have a number of guys who have shown they can post some low scores, we just need them to do it more consistently.”
Bajdek is optimistic about the season and feels the team has a good chance to be very successful.
“There are some very good teams in the NIC this season. If we give ourselves a chance to be near the top of the NIC it would be a great regular season and give us a chance to move our team beyond sectional play,” said Bajdek.
“I predict that we will be competitive,” said Coach John Gumpf about his hopes for the season. “I think there are times we will be up and down but I want to work at being consistent.”
The team is young but mighty.
“Our strengths will be pitching and defense,” commented Gumpf. “I have a good mixture of a few returns along with younger players. I think of this team as young but have enough returners to make the team strong.”
Gumpf noted an area the team needs to work on is offense. “Another area since we have so many young kids is to be consistent.”
“We need to work together as a team and learn to be consistent,” said Gumpf of the goal of the season.
Marian High School
MISHAWAKA — Just when it felt like winter was never going to give in, spring temperatures have arrived and spring sports are in full swing at Marian. While some games and matches have been postponed due to rain and freezing temperatures, coaches and athletes are now making up for lost time.
The varsity golf team is returning one senior this season and expectations are high for him to continue his outstanding high school career. Michael Macris was voted first-team All-State last season and he was named Northern Indiana Conference Player of the Year the last two seasons. Three sophomores will be contributing to the varsity this year and Coach Brian Horvath is expecting big things from them as well.
“They’re very good players,” said Coach Horvath. “We are very fortunate to have a lot of great kids again this year on the team. We always want to try and win our conference and sectionals and make it to state. I think we should be able to do it this year, God willing.”
Coach Joe Turnock is hoping to improve on the 15-13 season from 2013. Returning varsity players Tim McMahon and Josh Turnock will lead the 2014 team as senior captains. Also returning are seniors Joe Kavanagh, Reed Lewis, Brian Mischler and Matt Royeca, junior players include Jay Eggeman and J.P. Kavanagh and sophomore Nate Thomas. Joining the returning players for 2014 are seniors Jim Catanzarite, Steven Knight, juniors Dominic Cataldo, Matt Nagy, Paul Saros and sophomore Joe Ravotto.
“Two-thousand-thirteen was a young team in terms of varsity experience,” said Coach Turnock. “We struggled at times in making the routine play and our ability to finish games. As a team we have grown and matured from last season. For 2014, we want to be a team that plays for each other and competes and grinds to the final out.”
Seniors Josh Turnock, a four-year varsity starter, and Reed Lewis, who led the team in pitching wins, received All-Conference honors last season, and they are expected to lead the team with their experience to a better finish this season.
Marian’s rugby team is made up of student athletes from Marian, Saint Joseph, Jimtown, LaVille and South Bend Adams. With 16 returning players, Coach Larry Dahee is hoping to be more competitive.
“Last year we started very slowly but eventual evolved into a quality club,” Coach Dahee said. “Our biggest problem was lack of numbers and being able to set up game-like situations in practice.”
“With bigger numbers this year we hope to see more improvement earlier in the season,” he added. “We have picked up some excellent athletes this year that will make a huge contribution to our success. They have taken an all-for-one and one-for-all attitude to play for each other.”
The Marian boy’s track team is a small but dedicated group. Led by senior co-captains Jacob Burnham and Chris Meyer, Coach Santiago “Boz” Bosque is looking forward to improving speed, strength and winning some meets with hard work.
“Even though we are a young team, we have talent in our youth and with desire and hard work, our improvement will show,” said Coach Boz.
Along with the co-captains, Coach Boz has the following returning letterman — Anthony Blum, Joe Canter, Rickie Entzien, Dylan Konwinski, Alex Mroz, Matt Rice, Noah Sizemore and John Spalding. Newcomers to the team include Matt Ernst, Tyrone Crump, Nick Pingel, Dominic Rulli, Paul Dieringer, Jacob Imus, Dennis Christian, Collin Linner, Izayah Newsom, Michael Vu, Justin Horvath, Sam Chippas, Connor Glon and Josh Holt are also expected to contribute.
With a tough schedule ahead of them, Coach Boz hopes the team is up to the challenge. “With the help of assistant coaches Brannon Parker and Rex Morris all of our athletes will see improvement in themselves,” he said.
This is the second season for boys’ lacrosse at Marian. Coach Brian Welch has high expectations after a first year successful record of 11-3.
“Last year we ended with one of the best defenses in the state giving up on average only four goals per game,” Coach Welch said. “In addition, we had two Honorable Mention All-State selections. We have a great core of seniors that expect to duplicate the successes of last season and make the push towards qualifying for the state tournament.”
Coach Welch has nine returning varsity lettermen from last season including senior captains Connor Dalton (defense), Branden Kemp (midfield), Ned Rice (midfield) and Mike Voelker (midfield). Senior newcomers Matt Garatoni, Matt Henry and Jared Henry also will make major contributions at the midfield positions. Freshman Scott Smith brings a lot of lacrosse experience to this year’s squad, and will be counted on at the attack position.
They will lead the team against a rigorous schedule that features state powerhouses, Penn, Saint Joseph, Guerin Catholic and Concordia.
“We surprised a lot of people with our success last season, and look to surpass that with a qualifying berth in the state tournament,” said Coach Welch.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.