TERRE HAUTE —
Settling into his second season as football coach at Rose-Hulman, Jeff Sokol admits preparing for 2012 has been somewhat easier than preparing for 2011.
“Everything here runs in cycles,” he told the Tribune-Star this week. “Once you’ve been through it one time, you’re definitely a little bit more used to it. You’re not caught off guard by anything.”
Coming off a 5-5 campaign last season (tied with Mount St. Joseph, Bluffton and Hanover for second place at 5-3 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), Sokol will have two skill-position starters returning on offense.
The most notable is 5-foot-8, 185-pound running back Kyle Kovach, named a Preseason NCAA Division III All-American by USA College Football, the d3Senior Classic and Beyond College Sports Network this summer.
“He’s as good of a running back as you can get at this level,” Sokol emphasized. “He’s an exceptional player who performs at a consistently incredibly high level. We’re very excited to have him for his senior year.”
Although Kovach will be fed the ball early and often, he can’t carry it every single time. Greg Lee, a 5-9, 175-pound sophomore, and Danya Francis, a 5-9, 180-pound junior, are two who might receive some of the leftovers.
The other notable offensive returnee is third-year starter Mitch Snyder (6-2, 215), a senior quarterback from Casey, Ill.
“He’s really progressed,” Sokol said. “It seems like he’s much more productive in practice than he was last season and doing a much better job of taking care of the ball.
“Our main goal coming into the season was taking care of the football. He had too many interceptions  last year, too many catastrophic interceptions for touchdowns. We’re really trying to cut down on those and make sure he knows why he’s going where he’s going with the football and making the right decisions.”
Backing up Snyder is 6-6, 220-pound junior Ryan Landwehr.
“He’s also really come a long way,” Sokol noted. “We feel completely confident in Ryan, if he gets called upon, that he’ll be able to step up and produce as well.”
Names of the 2012 wide receivers might be unfamiliar to some Rose fans because none of them started last season. One young player from last season did not return to the team because of concussion issues.
Battling for playing time will be junior Connor Gerhart (5-10, 175), seniors Kris Geyer-Roberts (5-10, 180) and Shane Boschert (6-1, 180) and sophomore Matt Palla (6-0, 195).
“It’s a group of guys who have kinda worked themselves up and created opportunities for themselves,” Sokol explained, adding that 6-1, 170-pound freshman Jacob Dye also could end up in the mix.
Alex Sonneberger (6-1, 205, senior) is penciled in at tight end after recovering from a broken wrist suffered last season, although freshman Jordan Patterson (6-2, 205) and sophomore Zac Erba (6-0, 185, a converted center) might see action as well.
Sokol named senior center Trey Cahill (5-10, 240), sophomore guard Eric Taylor (6-1, 280) and junior guard Kie Bates (6-0, 245, a converted tackle) as the mainstays of the Engineers’ offensive line.
“Trey runs the show for us up there,” Sokol pointed out. “His poise and ability to get us in the right call are really critical to what we do up front.”
Sokol said at least two freshmen appear ready to make an impact on the offensive line — Jason Waldenmeyer (6-3, 260) and T.J. Demos (6-2, 230) — along with sophomore Nick Buchta (6-4, 245).
“We’ve got a lot of different ways to try to get Kyle Kovach the ball,” Sokol said in response to a question about the offense as a whole. “He was our leading receiver last year [46 catches for 408 yards] as well as our leading rusher [1,295 yards on 298 carries]. We try not to mash our best player into a wall all day long. We try to stay pretty balanced and keep the defense guessing, but Kyle Kovach will get his fair share of touches. That’s for sure.”
Handling the placekicking duties will be junior Matt Angel (6-0, 185, returning from a hip labrum tear) and/or freshman Craig Larew (6-1, 170), while junior Eric Schaible (6-4, 210) will return at punter.
“Eric is one of the best punters in the country at our level,” Sokol stressed. “We expect him to have a tremendous season.”
Turning to the defense line, 6-2, 230-pound junior end Dean Griffing (hip labrum tear) is another Engineer who’s returning from off-season surgery to start. Joining him in the trenches are junior D.J. Lawson (6-0, 225) at the other end and junior Marcus Tucker (5-9, 240) and freshman Dane Irving (5-11, 255) at tackles.
“We expect Dane to be an excellent player for us for a long time,” Sokol mentioned.
Another freshman, Casey Thomas (5-11, 235) should see time filling in at end.
Sokol added that Mark Fitz (broken foot) won’t be able to return to the field for another two weeks, while junior Josh Yoder suffered a knee injury on the first day of preseason practice and will be forced to sit out the season. Both are junior defensive linemen.
Regarding the linebackers, senior Ryan Gallagher (5-9, 190) and sophomore Grant DePalma (5-10, 205) are returning starters on the inside.
“They’re two very exceptional players,” Sokol insisted. “They’re versatile. They’re great in the run game, great in the pass game. They’re fast. They’re physical. They’re very, very good football players.”
The Rose-Hulman coach said Craig Voges (6-0, 190) will start as an outside linebacker/safety, with freshman Andrew Schuelke (6-0, 205) also seeing time at that hybrid position.
In the secondary will be senior co-captain Jordan Martin (6-1, 190, third-year starter) at strong safety, junior T.J. Chin (5-10, 180) at the other safety and sophomore Spencer Balash (5-10, 185) and junior John Burt (5-10, 170) at cornerbacks. Burt is a former West Vigo High School standout.
“A lot like Trey Cahill on the offense, Jordan is the guy who makes all the calls, gets everyone lined up correctly,” Sokol explained. “He’s been a very productive player from a tackles and interceptions standpoint.”
Kovach, Lee and Dye will serve as the primary kick and punt returners, Sokol said.
Sokol figures Franklin again will be the team to beat in the HCAC, with Mount St. Joseph, Defiance, Hanover, Bluffton and Rose trying to catch up to the Grizzlies.
“We expect to win the conference,” Sokol boldly stated. “We have to stay healthy. We have to play great for 10 straight weeks… To beat a team like Franklin [on Oct. 20], we have to be perfect. We’re going to do everything we can to get our guys in that frame of mind that week.”
Rose-Hulman will open its season Saturday against Kalamazoo College at Cook Stadium, starting at 7 p.m.
TERRE HAUTE —
Settling into his second season as football coach at Rose-Hulman, Jeff Sokol admits preparing for 2012 has been somewhat easier than preparing for 2011.
Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect
Reed took his talents to Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference in 2011 and hasn’t looked back in the baseball sense. After a standout career at Terre Haute South — he was Indiana’s Player of the Year in 2011 — area fans had an idea of the wind Kentucky was sowing when it coaxed Reed to Lexington, Ky.
METRO ROUNDUP: Odum shines in Portsmouth Invitational
Former Indiana State guard Jake Odum had a productive first night at the Portsmouth Invitational late Thursday.
The Terre Haute native scored 16 points, had six assists and three steals for the Portsmouth Partnership team in its 88-81 victory over Cherry Bekaert.
ISU falls to Canisius in first of three-game road series
The Indiana State baseball team fell behind early and never could get the lead as host Canisius posted a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series Friday at Demske Sports Complex.
The Sycamores (24-11) and Griffins (21-13) will meet again at 2 p.m. today, but the venue will switch to Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, N.Y. The same two teams also will play Sunday back at Demske Sports Complex in a noon start.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sweeps doubleheader over Rose-Hulman
Over the years, defeating its crosstown rival has not usually been easy for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods or Rose-Hulman when they’ve met in college softball.
But on Wednesday afternoon at The Woods, the home team made its doubleheader sweep look easy to first-year coach Mark Feller with five-inning decisions of 10-0 and 11-1.
Terre Haute North grad O'Leary to transfer from Loyola
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The former Terre Haute North standout told the Tribune-Star he doesn’t yet know his next move.
Rose-Hulman, Woods to face off on softball diamond
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ISU baseball holds off Eastern Illinois for 24th win
Indiana State freshman left-hander Ryan Keaffaber won his first game as a Sycamore and senior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went 3 for 3 as ISU defeated host Eastern Illinois 6-4 in college baseball Tuesday.
Top returners lead Cream over Crimson in Hoosiers' spring game
The Cream team at Saturday’s Cream and Crimson intrasquad game had Indiana’s top returning rusher and receiver and the Hoosiers’ top-rated passer from last season.
No surprise, then, that Tevin Coleman, Shane Wynn and Tre Roberson guided the Cream to a resounding 24-14 win over the Crimson.
Rose-Hulman baseball gets wild doubleheader sweep
Host Rose-Hulman came back from an early six-run deficit in the first game Saturday and went on to a 13-12, 7-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball sweep over Mount St. Joseph.
The wild opener featured a Rose-Hulman comeback from an 8-2 deficit and included 18 hits and two school records for the Engineers.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball earns doubleheader sweep at Missouri State
Yvette Alvarez’s one-hit shutout capped a dominant day of pitching Saturday as Indiana State swept a Missouri Valley Conference softball doubleheader at Missouri State by scores of 6-1 and 4-0.
“We pitched well,” coach Shane Bouman said. “Both Taylor Lockwood in the first game and Yvette Alvarez in the second game threw great. When you pitch good and you play good defense and get some key hits, good things are going to happen.
ISU football set for first spring scrimmage
Thanks to a limited number of available offensive linemen — a group that will at least double in numbers in the fall with the addition of recruits and currently injured players — the Sycamores won’t have a full-scale scrimmage, but will still intersperse scrimmage plays (with officials) among other practice drills.
“We’re thin,” coach Mike Sanford admitted after practice Thursday. “The scrimmage will be part of practice — probably 30 or 40 plays altogether. We only have five to seven healthy offensive linemen, so we can’t go [in a scrimmage format] for long stretches of time.”
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Royce Waltman’s visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Methodist Church at 100 E. 86th Street, Indianapolis.
ISU baseball falls to Vanderbilt 6-2
The seventh-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores took control early to defeat the Indiana State Sycamores 6-2
ISU baseball sweeps doubleheader against Wichita State
Indiana State baseball coach Mitch Hannahs finally got what he’s been looking for from the Sycamores’ Friday and Saturday starters ... and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Wichita State is in town for a crucial series. With ISU 2-4 in the league, it was vital for the Sycamores to validate their better-than-expected form in nonconference play with MVC success in Saturday’s doubleheader at Bob Warn Field.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman's nine-game winnings streak snapped
Rose-Hulman had its nine-game winning streak snapped with two tightly contested losses at defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Manchester on Saturday.
Sycamores get commitment from junior-college point guard
Following Indiana State’s loss to Marquette in the WNIT, coach Teri Moren touched on the future of the program after the loss of Sycamore senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir.
Prusator gives ISU a shooter for 2015
Grant Prusator, a native of Rochelle, Ill., has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Indiana State starting in the 2014-15 season. He will have three years of eligibility with the Sycamores as he played just one year for Highland Community College.
Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium
The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Indiana State secondary could be mending into a strength
During Indiana State’s injury-ravaged 2013 season, there wasn’t a unit on either side of the ball that was spared from the carnage.
But if one had to be singled out as hardest hit in the injury department, it would be difficult to out-do the Sycamores’ secondary.
Every player that started in ISU’s season opener at Indiana not only missed at least one game last season, but the entire starting unit was out of action by the end of September.
Reed named Midseason National Player of the Year
Half of the college baseball season is done and one prominent college baseball publication thinks Terre Haute’s A.J. Reed is best player in the land.
Reed, a junior at Kentucky, was named the Midseason National Player of the Year by Perfect Game USA, a website devoted to college baseball.
Laramie to transfer from ISU women's basketball program
Indiana State forward Marina Laramie averaged 9.9 points and started all 32 games as a sophomore for the Sycamores.
But the 6-foot-2 women’s basketball player will continue her career elsewhere.
Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings
Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.
Chicago guard commits to ISU women's basketball
The Indiana State women’s basketball team picked up a verbal commitment from Chicago guard Kiera Brooks on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-7 junior for North Lawndale College Prep visited ISU’s campus for the first time, met the team and chose her college home. Brooks averaged 18.7 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for coach Corey Morgan’s 15-11 squad.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball tops IU 7-5
The Indiana State softball team remained a perfect 13-0 when scoring in the first inning as it defeated Indiana (9-24-1) 7-5 Tuesday for its second consecutive victory over a Big Ten opponent.
Dedicated to helping others
It’s not like Marissa Stout is bored out of her mind and lacking for things to do.
Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC
Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.
ISU baseball shows mental toughness in win over Illinois State
When the pressure’s on, there’s nothing a coach likes more than to see his team double down on their approach and grit out a positive result.
Going the distance: Redbirds ace Savas allows just five hits while shutting down Sycamores
Indiana State’s pitchers weren’t their best in Friday’s series opener against Illinois State, but it seemed the Sycamores might get away with it. Through seven innings, ISU had issued six walks, gave up six hits and hit a batter, but still trailed by just a run. But ISU’s luck with its generosity would give out in the eighth, and even if it hadn’t, Illinois State standout starter Dan Savas had the Sycamores’ bats in a deep freeze anyway. The Redbirds defeated the Sycamores 5-2 at Bob Warn Field.
Woods softball team wins 4th straight
The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods softball team swept Grace College with a pair of wins in its home opener Wednesday.
Devoted brothers: Mahurins relish chance to team up and win NAIA title
It wasn’t a great year for NCAA basketball in the Hoosier state outside of Indiana State’s 23-victory season.
But a team in NAIA Division II with eight Indiana natives — and coached by former Valparaiso point guard Greg Tonagel, an Indiana All-Star for his hometown of LaPorte — brought home a national basketball championship.
Tonagel, the scrappy point guard who played alongside Bryce Drew for that magical Valpo team, created more March hoops memories with the help of Rockville brothers R.J. and Lane Mahurin.
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