By Joey Bennett
TERRE HAUTE — The list of swimmers from Wabash Valley area colleges is not as extensive as it was a few seasons ago, when standouts such as Jenny Somerville made annual NCAA appearances.
There are still seven athletes and one coach known to be competing, though, and their progress is updated in a separate list running with today’s column.
The only newcomer to the list is Terre Haute South’s Tyler Gertz, who made Purdue’s team as a walk-on and is getting his feet wet (and more) for the Boilermakers.
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• Mid-winter movement — There are a lot of other comings and goings among former area athletes.
• Northview grad Joe Evinger has made his college choice official, making a verbal commitment to play football for the University of Louisville.
The Cardinals struggled to a 5-7 record this year and missed out on a bowl game, losing their last five games following a 5-2 start.
How big of a deal is recruiting there?
The school will host a Signing Day Party on at 6 p.m. on Feb. 4, where Cardinal fans are invited to hear Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe and his staff unveil the 2009 recruiting class. The staff will show video highlights and give a brief overview of each signee.
Evinger, a mobile 6-7, 340-pound offensive lineman, recently completed his second season at the College of the Canyons in California where he earned first team honors in every conceivable category – including All-American.
Evinger had a desire to return closer to home, and told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he felt very comfortable there.
“I have a big family back home and that was an exciting factor for me to be getting closer,” he told the Courier-Journal. “Louisville is only three hours from my hometown, so that really helped make my decision easy."
Evinger was also getting serious interest from Kentucky, UCLA, Arkansas and Indiana.
Canyons Coach Garett Tujague feels Evinger will do well at the next level.
“He did a great job for us in learning our system and becoming a better football player in understanding schemes,” Tujague said. “He is also is in the best shape of his life. I know that if Joe takes what he learned here and applies it at Louisville, along with [offensive line] Coach Brent Myers, he could become one of the best.”
• Two former Indiana State players from area schools have transferred to Marian College in Indianapolis, where they will join a slew of other Wabash Valley area grads.
Broc Miller, who quarterbacked Evinger’s successful Northview teams but was switched to wide receiver at ISU, is now a Marian Knight. Terre Haute South grad Derelle Hankins, who earned one letter at ISU as a defensive lineman, has also made the switch to Marian.
• Andrew Woodason of Terre Haute North still has one season left to play baseball at Lake Land College, but he no longer has to worry about his future after this year.
Woodason has signed to conclude the last two years of his career at Milligan College in Tennessee.
“I am very excited about signing with Milligan, and having signed before the season started takes a lot of pressure off me,” Woodason said. “I can relax and play ball not having to worry about where I am going to go next year. I decided on Milligan because the coaches are younger guys that seem to have a lot of knowledge of the game and a strong desire to win.”
The frigid late winter-early spring games Woodason has played in for years will also give way to warmer temperatures.
“I have always wanted to play baseball in the South because of the better weather and more opportunities to be seen and advance to the next level after college ball,” he said. “Another reason for choosing Milligan is their strong academics — it is one of the top academic schools in the South.”
Lake Land Coach Jim Jarrett, who will be retiring after this season, predicts success for Woodason.
“Andrew is a solid player and leader,” Jarrett said. “He played third last year but will move to first this year, a more natural position,” Jarrett said. “He is a solid force in the middle of our order. He is a better person than a player and he is a terrific player.”
Last season, Woodason started 40 games, getting 41 hits in 112 at-bats for a .366, including five doubles and 23 walks.
He plans to major in business with a concentration on legal issues.
• Riverton Parke senior softball standout Megan Vincent will continue her career next year at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., which finished seventh in the National Junior College Athletic Association championships.
Vincent had an 11-4 pitching record last season with 111 strikeouts in 109 innings with a 1.60 ERA. She also led the Panthers in hitting with a .360 average and had 21 RBI.
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• Phegley honored again — Indiana University junior catcher Josh Phegley of Terre Haute North added First Team All-Ping! Preseason Honors to his resume, Ping!Baseball announced. The publication is the fourth publication to recognize Phegley as the top catcher in the nation heading into the 2009 season.
Phegley has already been named a Preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the National College Baseball Writers of America. Rivals.com also named Phegley the top returning catcher in the nation. He was named to the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List this preseason as well.
Phegley also collected All-America honors from the National College Baseball Writers of America, the American Baseball Coaches Association and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in 2008.
He finished off one of the best offensive seasons in IU history in 2008 with a .438 average - the second-best clip in the nation - to go along with 15 home runs, 80 RBI and 20 doubles.
The Hoosiers will begin their 2009 campaign against West Virginia in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge on Feb. 20 in St. Petersburg, Fla. IU will also play Georgetown and South Florida in the three-day event.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches and coaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Thompson, Sr., Delta State — Recently placed first in the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:28.30 in a win over Ouachita Baptist.
Andrew Bretscher, Jr., Ohio State — Has posted the team’s best time in the 100 butterfly at 47.86 and has won that event four times this season. Was also a member of the 400 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams that have already qualified for the NCAA meet. Has the third-best 50 free time of 20.64 and the third-best 100 backstroke time of 49.24.
Tracy Menzel, Sr., Kenyon — Has the team’s top 100 breast time of 1:02.94 and is a member of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams.
Cheri Baratto, Sr., Akron — Placed sixth recently in the 100 free in 1:00.00 against St. Francis and was seventh in the 200 IM in 2:27.57.
Terre Haute North
Kristy Shew, Jr., Valparaiso — Placed fourth in two events in a recent meet against Wisconsin-Green Bay, going 28.85 in the 200 free and 33.12 in the 100 back.
Terre Haute South
Tyler Gertz, Fr., Purdue — A walk-on member of the Boilermakers, Gertz has recorded a best time of 52.20 in the 100 free this year and a time of 10:04.77 in the 1,000/1,650 free.
Brent Noble, Sr., Eastern Illinois — Had his biggest day of the season at the “House of Champions” meet in Indianapolis, posting the team’s season best times in the 200 IM (1:59.99) and the 400 IM (4:19.00). Was also a member of the fourth-place 800 free relay team (2:08.51).
Donny Brush, assistant coach, Indiana — Has helped coach the Hoosiers to a No. 8 national ranking for the men’s team and a No. 13 national ranking for the women’s team.