NIC Fall Sports Preview for 2014
August 12, 2014By Greg Humnicky of Northern Indiana Conference
NIC Fall Sports Preview for 2014
Football preview to come later
The NIC starts its 15th season of girls' golf, although the IHSAA begins its 42nd year of offering a state tournament. Penn has dominated the NIC with 13 NIC crowns, with the only season where they did not a least win a share of the league championship was in 2006 when St. Joseph won the league outright. Penn has won four IHSAA titles ('94, '02, '04 & '05) and in 2011 and last year (2013) they were the state runner-up at the state finals for Jim Garrett's final year as the Lady Kingsmen coach.
In 2013, Penn finished 2nd at the state finals and in addition they earned the NIC crown along with Sectional and Regional titles. St. Joseph’s junior Brianna Hart leads the returning NIC lady golfers this year as she earned 1st team honors last year with Penn’s 4 seniors last year. Junior Cassidy Jurkaites of Penn (2nd Team All-NIC last year) leads the rebuilding Penn squad this year. Mishawaka has senior Aubri Young and Elkhart Central has senior Libby Tully to lead their respective teams this year as they earned 2nd Team All-NIC honors last year. Marian has a pair of juniors returning this year, Lauren Jankowski and Meghan Sink while Adams has junior Aine O’Connor returning.
Last year Penn won their 17th NIC title, their 9th out of the last 10 years. They return their NIC MVP senior singles player Michael Wang along with sophomore Stuart Feeley and senior Jacob Macri. Elkhart Central has senior Eric Burton (2nd Team All-NIC) returning in the singles along with a doubles team of seniors Scott Hanberg and Will Riblet. Riley has a 2nd Team doubles group of seniors Corey Fletcher and Matt Paluszewski returning.
In Sectional play last year, both Penn and St. Joseph won their respective sectionals, but both were beaten in Regional play. St. Joseph has to rebuild a squad that was dominated by seniors last year.
Riley won the NIC meet and the Sectional last year. Penn and Mishawaka finished 2nd and 3rd at the NIC with Penn securing a 2nd in the Sectional.
Riley’s Travis Kulczar is a senior 1st Team All-NIC returnee along with Penn’s
Jack Mader. From the 2nd Team All-NIC returning this year are A.J. Glick of Mishawaka and David Salmon of Riley. Riley, Penn and Mishawaka should lead the Boys NIC with St. Joseph providing more competitive balance with Matt Morris and Jacob Turner returning.
Last year SB Riley advanced to the State Finals after a 4th place finish at the Semi-State.
The NIC will conduct its 31st year of girls' cross-country this year as a conference sport. It became a separate girls' NIC sport during the 1984-85 school year. The IHSAA started a state tournament in girls' cross-country in 1981-82. Penn earned their 22nd overall girls' cross-country conference championship last year, their 5th in a row, their 8th in the last ten years when the NIC meet solely determined the conference championship.
Two years ago, Mishawaka’s Anna Rohrer not only was the NIC MVP, but she went on to win the IHSAA individual state championship as sophomore, then later in December won the national cross-country championship. She did not run in NIC girls’ cross-country in 2013 due to injury. This last spring (2014) she won the state championship in the 3200 m event in girls’ track for the second straight year.
Penn’s Danielle Frank won the NIC MVP honors with a 1st place finish at the NIC race at Oxbow as a sophomore. Riley’s Kacie O’Neal, 1st team All-NIC returns for the Wildcats, while Frank will have teammate Hannah Selis and Megan Dietz returning. In fact the entire All-NIC squad returns this year as there was only one senior that graduated last spring.
Penn won the NIC meet last year along with the Sectional. They qualified for the State Finals as a team where they finished 6th at the state finals with Maddie Woods of Penn winning the individual Regional and Semi-State titles.
Mishawaka’s senior Anna Rohrer has teammates Kiera Pelletier and Hanna Coppens returning this year to challenge Penn who has won the last 5 NIC titles in a row.
The NIC starts its 21st year in soccer. Penn and Elkhart Central shared the NIC crown last year. Penn and St. Joseph each won their sectional last year and then both lost at the Regional round. Marian in Class A lost in the Regional final. Marian senior Cruz Juarez and senior Jake Stillson of Mishawaka are 1st Team All-NIC players returning from last year along with Washington senior Alex Yanes. Elkhart Central returns five All-NIC 2nd Team and Hon.Mention selections to give the Blue Blazers a shot at leading the NIC this year.
All NIC schools except Marian play in the 2A state tournament, while Marian plays in the 1A tourney.
Last year St. Joseph earned the NIC title, their 8th title overall since they became full members of the NIC in 2004. The NIC recognized girls' soccer starting in 1994, which makes the upcoming season the 21st since NIC inclusion. Penn leads with 10 NIC titles earned since '94.
Penn and St. Joseph won their 2A sectionals as Penn won the Goshen Regional title, then lost at the semi-state, 1-0 to Fishers. Marian won in 2012 Class 1A State title but played up a class last year due to the IHSAA tournament success factor.
Returning 1st team All-NIC girls' soccer players include sophomore Mary-Claire Burnett of Adams. St. Joseph has senior Kelly Welsh returning with Sammy Kambol and Catherine Edmonds, while Marian has senior Shannon Hendricks and Denise Veldman returning. Junior Kamra Solomon leads the Penn returning players. Adams, Marian, Penn all figure to chase St. Joseph for NIC honors this year.
Marian interrupted Penn’s string of four straight NIC titles last year. Penn has 11 NIC titles to their credit while Marian’s crown was their fourth overall. Last year marked the 42nd year that IHSAA has conducted a state tournament in volleyball. It has been a NIC sport since the '76-77 school year (38 years).
Mishawaka has 26 NIC titles, either shared or outright, to lead the NIC in volleyball.
The NIC has state championships in volleyball from 5 different schools:
Penn (2 in '11, '12 - both 4A) Mishawaka (3 in '80, '83, '88)
St. Joseph (1 in '72 - 1st one) Marian (1 in '73)
SB Adams (2 - in '76, '78)
For the 2014 season, Marian’s Maggie Gibson is the sole returning All-NIC 1st Team returnee, but she has 2nd Team All-NiC selections Elizabeth Asdell and Alyssa Hasler with her, which puts Marian in the driver’s seat for a repeat NIC title.
Penn along with Mishawaka, Adams, Clay, Riley, Washington and Plymouth are in the 4A Sectional at Penn. Elkhart Central is in the Elkhart County 4A Sectional.
Marian and St. Joseph will be in the 3A Sectional at Rochester.
Last year Penn and Elkhart Central won the 4A Sectionals and Marian won the 3A Sectional.
Marian won the 3A Regional but lost in the 3A Semi-State final to FW Concordia at the Plymouth 3A Semi-State.
Elkhart Central won the 4A Regional over Penn but lost the 4A Semi-State championship match to Carmel.