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Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers
By Michelle Castleman
With a mild winter all but behind them, the Fort Wayne area Catholic high schools are heating up for their 2016 spring season. 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.
In his third season as the varsity coach for Bishop Dwenger, Jason Garrett returns 24 players to the baseball field for 2016 which includes nine lettermen- seven seniors, one junior and one sophomore. This year’s squad boasts a long list of accolades, veteran leadership and deep experience with eight seniors signed to continue their careers at the collegiate level. Sophomore Grant Richardson is also committed to play after high school for Indiana University. The squad has a goal to break school history and win both SAC and Sectional titles for the third consecutive year. The Saints also strive to compete in the IHSAA state finals behind their strong pitching, offense and team chemistry. Highlights in the schedule include a double header against South Bend St. Joseph at Notre Dame Stadium on May 14.
Upper classmen Kristina Burkhardt, Stephanie Hanic, Karsyn Kitchen and Taya Andrews will serve as the 2016 captains for the Bishop Dwenger softball team. Senior standout and University of North Carolina recruit, Burkhardt leads the Saints’ attack for this year’s campaign and is a possible candidate for the 2016 Miss Softball title. Coach Beth Peters previews, “Our major strength would be our work ethic and attitude. Every player in our program worked diligently in the off-season to bring her game to a new level. They have also set the standard for what Bishop Dwenger softball stands for: playing as a team, not for individual stats, as well as complete positivity and support of each other. These intangible strengths will carry this amazing young team.” The Saints were the 2015 SAC champs and logged an impressive 20-7 finish a year ago with losses coming only to state ranked foes.
In his rookie season as head girls’ track coach, Thomas Crum is excited to build on a 2015 group that may be fairly young, but qualified several relays with young legs at the regional competition last season. “Based on their performance in practices, I am expecting good things when it comes to meet settings,” predicted Crum, who also coaches cross-country for the Knights. Along with senior sprinter Rachel Gibson and a solid distance core of Alex Ebetino, Abby Brelage and Megan Brelage, they recently wrapped up their indoor season and will kick off the outdoor meets April 13.
A very familiar face on the track, Herb Widner is back for his 40th season as head coach at Bishop Dwenger. The Saints return two 2015 state finalists in Jake Hursh (800) and Vince Schipper (pole vault) along with Mike Hake, Nolan Till, David Tippmann, Aric Campbell, Alex Barton and Reyer Howe, several of whom were regional qualifiers. Widner and his unit hope to stay healthy this season, have fun and be competitive.
The Saints have four of five starters back from last year’s stellar team: Patrick Allgeier, Callahan Elzey, Kyle Miller and James Wagner. Coach Dave Scudder predicts the fifth spot will be filled by Luke Miller, Tyler Fink, Logan Ryan, Jacob Scroghram or Isaac Landstoffer. In 2015, Bishop Dwenger won the SAC conference championship for the eighth time in ten years. They also claimed the regional championship for the first time in Bishop Dwenger school history and finished an impressive fourth in the state tournament. “We are looking to improve our position this year at the state tournament. It should be a great year,” Scudder summarized.
Athletic director, John Bennett reports that Aubrey Lohser has been named the new tennis coach at Bishop Dwenger. The Lady Saints will swing into action against Concordia on March 24 and face a challenging line up this season. 2016 play will continue through April and May and culminate with the post season starting with Sectionals the week of May 18.
The 2016 captains for the Bishop Dwenger lacrosse club will be Ian Stroud, Will Salzer, Joe Steigmeyer, Nick Maguire and Braxton Patton. The Saints return a good portion of the team from last years’ Indiana Club champs including a deep mid-field led by Stroud and Maquire and strong defense spearheaded by goalie, Steibmeyer and lethal long poles, Salzer and Ingle. The club has notable newcomers in the 6’5” Ingle and East coast native Aaron Davis. Like many years, the schedule highlights include intense match ups with Snider, Homestead and Avon.
Both the boys’ and girls’ rugby club rosters are shaping up nicely. With over 50 players, the boys will have three full sides of varsity, junior varsity and developmental. The girls’ club of 30 will field one competitive varsity side. The boys’ club is led by captains Jacob Tomlinson and Landon Campbell and a talented group of seniors. The girls’ club is coming back from a third place finish in the north division. Seniors Karena Parish, Aubrey Motherwell, Sam Sliger and Gina Obergfell are all returning starters and have the experience the Saints need for a strong season. Junior center Emily Tippmann who led the team in points last season is also back along with sophomore Danielle Burns whose toughness in the pack was hard to match.
The Knights return two all-conference players in Katie Klinger and Kayla Knapke. Joined by six more players who saw varsity action in 2015 and a promising new group of freshman, Bishop Luers is predicted to have a very deep, competitive squad in the running for the upper part of the SAC conference. The Knights will have a similar schedule from a year ago with a mix of dual matches and invitationals and as always, have a goal to win the SAC. In his seventh outing with the tennis program, Jerry Rahrig details, “I’m looking forward to starting challenge matches to see who will establish themselves.” Following his only season without a daughter on the roster, Rahrig is excited at the resurgence of the sport in the Fort Wayne area and to coach his youngest, Caroline, this year.
Athletic director Rick Brown reports that the Bishop Luers roster lists six seniors for the 2016 spring season. The Knights will begin play against Central Noble on March 23 on their home field located at St. Joseph Hessen Cassel. They have a full schedule, which will culminate with the post-season IHSAA tournament beginning May 23-25.
In his rookie season with the Knights, Coach Jordan Miller welcomes back familiar faces in senior captain Takyra Merritt, Madison Busch, Katie Prendergast, Matt Paris and Alex Maldeney. Miller details, “The senior leadership is going to be pivotal for the 2016 Knights’ season as the team’s roster is full of raw talent and youth.” The Knights are looking to use their youth to build on the 2015 season which saw the boys finish sixth in the conference meet and the girls fifth. Feeling blessed with the opportunity to coach at Bishop Luers, Miller concludes, “It is an honor to bring my experience and energy to Bishop Luers this season. One of the team’s biggest strengths will lie with the youth of this team. If the underclassmen are able to take the constructive criticism and guidance of this senior class, we are going to have a lot of fun this season.”
Alumnus and Indiana Tech player Brian Nichter will take the reins for the Bishop Luers lacrosse program this spring. After a rough season a year ago, the Knights are setting lofty goals while laying a foundation to make them competitive for the long term. Completely different from 2015, the roster lists just 18 players but has a good core of talented players led by No. 2
senior captain Noah Meiser. Nichter explains, “Our defense will be our strongest most complete aspect of our team. Garreth Brouwer (LSM) and Sean Brouwer (goalie) will lead the way along with very reliable defensive players like Patrick Wyss, Jeremy Fagg and Alex Steffen. Another huge plus for the Knights is that they will be allowed to use the football field and the practice field at the school for their home matches and practices.”
In his ninth season as head coach, Tom O’Brien and the Bishop Luers linksters have high hopes of building on a winning record (10-3) a year ago. 26 hopefuls are trying out this season to make this happen and all-SAC selection Ben Reuille and juniors Will Pape, Max Pyle and Andrew Albertson are back to lead the way. O’Brien also welcomes newcomer Carston Fritz to the group. The sophomore played baseball as a freshman for the Knights. O’Brien explains, “Fritz spent a tremendous amount of time working on his golf game over the summer months.” Bishop Luers must fill the shoes of Caleb Kroft and SAC tournament champion, Conner Nix, who were lost to graduation.
For nearly three decades, Gary Rogers has been at the helm of the Bishop Luers baseball program. This season his roster lists five Knights who have signed to continue playing at the next level: Logan Gallaway and Noah Hoeffel (Kankakee Community College), Nick Carroll (Spring Arbor University), Brandon Diss (Bethel College) and Luke Lashure (Indiana Tech). Offensively, Tyler Prince (first base) will lead the veteran group who went 17-10 a year ago. Carroll, Hoeffel, Tony Bottone and Gallawoy are back on the mound as is junior Dustin Notter who went 4-0 in 2015 as a sophomore. Gallaway and Lashure will anchor the middle infield at short and second. Mick Palmer will play third/DH. Blane Cook will take over the catcher position while Diss, Bottone, Noah Hoeffel and Nick Carroll will roam the outfield for the Knights.
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