TERRE HAUTE —
Former Terre Haute North teammates Ross Sponsler and Matt O’Leary made their college basketball debuts last week and had outstanding initial performances.
Sponsler started at guard for Wabash, a Division III team playing up two levels of competition at Western Illinois. He finished the game with a team-high 14 points, shooting 5 of 12 from the field (1 for 6 from 3-point range) and hitting all three of his free throws.
Sponsler added two assists and two rebounds in Wabash’s 71-39 loss.
O’Leary played 21 minutes off the bench for Loyola (Chicago) in a 62-50 win over Toledo, finishing with eight points and seven rebounds. He was 3 of 8 from the field (0 for 3 from 3-point range) and added two assists.
• Ex-Rex star finds home — Nick Blount, a key member of the Terre Haute Rex baseball team last summer, has joined the team at Southern Polytechnic State University in his home state of Georgia for his last year of college competition.
Blount played his first three seasons at Tennessee, but was dismissed from the team last spring.
After his outstanding summer in Terre Haute, Blount was one of just 30 players named to the Prospect League Top Prospects list by Perfect Game USA.
“With everything we’ve heard about Nick, he can definitely either start or close for us,” first-year Southern Poly coach Marty Lovrich said. “The good thing about him is that we’re going to have the ability to find out if we’ve got starters and can use him at the end or if we need him at the front to go six, seven or eight innings. We feel like he’s got a chance to be one of the better pitchers in the Southern States Athletic Conference.”
This past summer, the 6-6, 220-pounder went 2-1 with 12 saves and a 1.38 ERA, striking out 39 and walking only nine over 32 2/3 innings. Blount was chosen as the Prospect League’s Co-Prospect of the Year and Fireman of the Year after pitching in 29 contests with one start.
A graduate of South Gwinnett (Ga.) High School, Blount made 61 career appearances with 12 starting assignments at Tennessee. As a junior in 2012, he took over as the Volunteers’ closer, collecting a team-high 10 saves in his first 10 opportunities. Blount saw action in 23 games last spring, making five starts before moving to the bullpen.
• Panthers win OVC, earn tourney bid — Eastern Illinois returned to the FCS Top 25 polls this week as the Panthers are ranked in both the Sports Network Top 25 and FCS Coaches Top 25 heading into the regular season finale at Central Arkansas. EIU is ranked No. 24 by Sports Network and No. 25 by the FCS Coaches.
The Panthers are 7-3 on the season having locked up the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title with a 39-20 win over Southeast Missouri. EIU was 6-1 in the league and will be making its 14th FCS playoff appearance when the pairings are announced Sunday.
It marks the first time EIU has been ranked since the second week of the 2010 season when the Panthers fell out of the polls following a 37-7 loss to Central Arkansas. The Bears come into this weekend’s non-conference game at Central Arkansas ranked 10th in both polls having already clinched an FCS playoff berth by winning the Southland Conference.
Taylor Duncan, a redshirt sophomore running back from Marshall, is third on the team in total offense with 440 yards rushing. He has scored eight touchdowns to rank him fifth on the team in scoring.
Punter Scott Weatherford of Terre Haute North has kicked 38 times for 1,452 yards (38.2) average for the Panthers with a long of 55, one for a touchback, eight for fair catches, seven downed inside the 20 and four of more than 50 yards.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
- College Report
College Report: Haley Chambers making noise in OVC softball circles
Two Wabash Valley natives are again making big news for the Southern Illlinois-Edwardsville softball team.
Former Riverton Parke and Cascade standout pitcher Haley Chambers was recognized for a string of dominant performances in the circle by being named Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
College Report: Valley athletes helping Wabash College
Two Wabash Valley hurdlers helped the Division III Wabash College track and field team go head to head against talent from NCAA Division I schools in the Vanderbilt University Black and Gold Invitational this past weekend.
The Little Giants produced several quality times, including a first-place finish by Northview grad Joel Whittington in the men’s 400-meter hurdles. The junior captured the title with a top time of 54.4 seconds, the fourth quickest recorded for NCAA DIII men this season. Cole Seward, a freshman from Terre Haute North, took third place, crossing the finish line in 55.7.
College report: Former Terre Haute South player Conrady returns to coaching
Former Terre Haute South and Furman University basketball standout David Conrady has re-entered the coaching world after a short hiatus. Conrady was recently named head coach of the boys team at Chattanooga Christian, a prep school in eastern Tennessee.
College report: Valley softball pair help Ball State start off with 12-2 record
Two Wabash Valley products have helped the Ball State softball team get off to a 12-2 start, including five straight wins last weekend to capture the Louisville Slugger Invitational at Arizona State.
College Report: Valley pair square off in softball pitching duel
Administrators and coaches long ago scheduled the East Tennessee State and Indiana University softball teams to both compete in the Georgia State Panther Invitational in Atlanta last weekend. Little could they have realized, however, that a Sunday afternoon pitching matchup between the two teams would pair two successful, blonde, and versatile performers from western Indiana in a head-to-head clash.
College report: Versatile Vicars set to help VU baseball program
Chris Barney knew what qualities he wanted as he was searching this winter for a new assistant baseball coach at Vincennes University. He wanted someone familiar with his program and his coaching style, someone from the Wabash Valley area who understood the state’s high school and American Legion programs, someone who had played several different positions in the field and also someone who had made a successful transition from junior college to Division I baseball. It didn’t take him long to realize that Cole Vicars was his man.
College report: Terre Haute pair Berry, Comer to boost Sycamores’ lines
While many people have varying opinions on the most important position on a football team, most old-school gridiron veterans would consider strong line play as a necessity for anything else to work — kind of like pitching in baseball and guard play in basketball.
College report: Wabash Valley hoops pair earn MVC weekly honors
Two Wabash Valley natives picked up big honors this week from the Missouri Valley Conference for their excellence on the basketball court. Evansville freshman Sara Dickey of Riverton Parke earned the league’s Newcomer of the Week for the third time while Loyola sophomore Matt O’Leary of Terre Haute North was chosen as the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the week.
College Report: Mahurins playing major role for Indiana Wesleyan
R.J. Mahurin, a senior at Indiana Wesleyan, was selected as the Crossroads League’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 24-30.
The fifth-year senior from Rockville led Indiana Wesleyan, then ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division II, to an 88-82 win over No. 9 Bethel last month in the Crossroads League opener.
Mahurin scored 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3 point range. He also recorded seven rebounds and two assists while knocking down both free throws in the contest.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former WRC football standouts playing key roles for No. 1 Mount Union
It’s a huge jump from the Wabash River Conference, one of the smallest leagues that plays high school football in Indiana, to Division III national powerhouse.
But two Wabash Valley standouts have made that leap and are significant contributors for top-ranked and defending national champion Mount Union (Ohio).
College Report: North grad enjoying sophomore season at Virginia Tech
A.J. Hughes had an admittedly up and down freshman season as the punter for Virginia Tech’s football team, but the sophomore from Terre Haute North High School has elevated his game like one of his long, hanging left-footed punts.
Hughes ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in punting with a 44.8-yard average per punt, a 4.7 increase over last year and a lofty number that ranks him ninth nationally.
College Report: South graduate becomes Wabash College swim coach
Brent Noble’s climb up the collegiate swimming coaches has taken another big step, after the Terre Haute South grad was recently named the new head swimming and diving coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.
Noble joins the Wabash program after serving for a year as the women’s head swimming coach at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
College Report: People with Valley ties getting up-close look at top-ranked Crimson Tide
Trivia question: What do Trent Miles, A.J. Hughes and Johnny Manziel have in common?
Maybe nothing right now, but after Saturday they will all have played against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide already this season.
Manziel has no known local ties, but was involved in the most-hyped game of the year last month as Texas A&M fell just short in a late comeback against Alabama.
Hughes, a sophomore punter for Virginia Tech from Terre Haute North, did his part in the Hokies’ 35-10 season–opening loss to the Tide.
Turner hoping to prove himself in junior college
Jeffrey Turner hopes a couple of years at junior college will do for his basketball career what it did for Derek Shouse.
COLLEGE REPORT: Watson, Seliger move on in strength and conditioning careers
Three members of the Indiana State athletics strength and conditioning staff, including two from Terre Haute, have advanced their careers and moved on to other opportunities.
Daniel Watson, former graduate assistant from Terre Haute North, has been hired by Rocky Mountain College to serve an assistant football coach and the head strength and conditioning coach.
Matt Seliger, also a former graduate assistant and North Patriot, has been hired by Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas, to serve as an intern.
Longtime Butler assistant stays loyal to new job
Matthew Graves waited patiently for nine years as a member of the Butler men’s basketball staff for his chance to be a head coach.
COLLEGE REPORT: Several Valley standouts busy with baseball
Several of the Wabash Valley area standouts now in college baseball are busy with summer league teams.
COLLEGE REPORT: Kentucky baseball star Reed earns All-SEC
Kentucky sophomore baseball standout A.J. Reed of Terre Haute South Vigo High School earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in voting by the league coaches for the recently completed season.
- COLLEGE REPORT: Wabash College All-American relay team has TH flavor
Catching up as the school year winds down
Odds and ends from here and there as the school year quickly winds down. For starters, high jumper Nick Jaeger of Terre Haute South was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s male track & field newcomer of the year:
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
The NCAA “regular” signing period begins Wednesday for all sports except football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo.
COLLEGE REPORT: Conferences honor Valley softball players
Several Wabash Valley area college softball players have been honored by their respective conferences for outstanding play this spring.
COLLEGE REPORT: Jake Newton makes big impact for Lincoln Trail College
Jake Newton had a long time between playing in competitive basketball games, a span of about 18 months, and used the frustration from that long dry spell to produce a stellar freshman season for Lincoln Trail College this winter.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed earns SEC Player of the Week honors
After belting three home runs during a five games last week, Kentucky sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.
COLLEGE REPORT: Spring newcomers making marks
Several freshman baseball and softball NCAA Division I players from the Wabash Valley have already made immediate impacts at their new schools, while others are waiting for their turns to shine.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed named third-team preseason baseball All-American
Two-way sophomore standout A.J. Reed was one of three University of Kentucky players named third-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
COLLEGE REPORT: Sponsler honored after big week for Wabash men's hoops
Wabash College freshman Ross Sponsler of Terre Haute North was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 6.
COLLEGE REPORT: North grad Hughes finds success after facing preseason adversity
A.J. Hughes knew he was in for a battle as he competed with three other walk-on punters in the preseason for the lone starting job on the Virginia Tech football team.
Etling, Meggs enjoying great year
It’s been a great year so far with more to come for a pair of longtime friends and St. Patrick’s School classmates.
Former Terre Haute resident Jack Meggs quarterbacked the Bellevue Wolverines football team to the Washington Class 3A state championship this fall, culminating with a 35-3 win over Sammamish Eastside Catholic — Bellevue’s fifth straight crown.
Danny Etling, meanwhile, has completed graduation requirements at Terre Haute South and is preparing for an upcoming high school all-star game and his first college classes in a couple of weeks.
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- College Report: Haley Chambers making noise in OVC softball circles