Area alumni making impressions, earning honors at collegiate level
With the fall transitioning into winter, some collegiate athletes from Jackson County have or are wrapping up their seasons, while others are just getting started.
Some of those athletes who have closed out the fall season include some highly successful spikers on the volleyball court, like JHHS graduate Carrie Lierz.
Lierz and the Peru State University volleyball team saw the season come to a close in the quarterfinals of the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament, but both still managed some high marks on the season.
The Bobcats, led by Lierz and six other seniors, finished with the best record (24-14) since 2002 and Lierz earned individual recognition by being selected as a first team member of the Capital One Academic All-District team for the second straight year.
With changes to the selection process making it that much tougher, Lierz was one of just six players out of a pool of 95 nominees to earn the honor for accomplishments both on the court and off it, like involvement in student government, campus life and volunteer work on top of her grades.
Lierz was also fourth on the team with 188 kills this season and for making the All-Distirct team she is also eligible to be selected for Capital One’s All-America team.
Meanwhile, Holton alumni Christa Hill and Keri Tanking picked up some All-Conference honors in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference for their solid contributions to the Ottawa volleyball team this season.
Hill took ownership of the setter position for the Braves this fall and put together a spectacular season that saw her selected as KCAC Setter of the Week six times, KCAC Player of the Week three times and NAIA Player of the week once. Unsurprisingly, Hill was a first team All-Conference selection and was named the KCAC Setter of the Year.
Over the course of the season, Hill racked up 1,289 assist, 114 kills, 40 aces, 268 digs and 36 blocks. She currently ranks 21st in all of the NAIA in total assists.
Tanking’s efforts this season were a little more spread out as she tallied 358 kills, 41 aces, 430 digs and 47 blocks, all among the top three on the team, which earned her a spot on the All-Conference second team.
Both laid it all on the line, too, as Hill finished with 23 assists and 12 digs in the KCAC tournament championship against Kansas Wesleyan, while Tanking led the team with 11 kills and 13 digs. Ottawa finished the season 24-11 overall.
Former Wildcat Haley Jacobs also just wrapped up her first season at Highland Community College, finishing fifth on the team with 75 kills, while Kylie Miller and the Washburn University volleyball are still playing and getting ready to start NCAA Division II tournament action.
The 14th-ranked Ichabods will begin tournament competition against third-ranked Concordia-St. Paul, who also happens to be the seven-time defending national champion, at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday in Duluth, Minn.
On the gridiron, things are wrapping up and area alumni are starting to receive postseason honors there as well, like current and former Wildcats Gunnar McKenna and Tanner Clark at Baker University.
The pair were two of the three Baker football players selected as members of the Capital One Academic All-District football team, with McKenna starting at safety for the defense and Clark at offensive line for a Wildcat team that finished the season 8-3 overall.
A handful of former Jackson County players will see their seasons continue, like Royal Valley alumni Gary Stauffer, Joel Worrell and Josh Tessendorf. All three are on the roster for the Coffeyville Community college team that earned a spot in the Heart of Texas Bowl on Dec. 6 in Copperas Cove, Texas.
Worrell (eight catches, 52 yards) and Tessendorf (11 tackles) have made small contributions throughout the season, with both seeing action in nine of 11 games, while Stauffer has been the starting punter since the first game of the season and is averaging 36.7 yards per punt with a long of 56 yards this season.
The 10th-ranked Red Ravens (9-2) will have their work cut out for them in the bowl game as they will take on third-ranked Trinity Valley (11-0). The game will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Dec. 6.
Kansas State’s Trent Tanking is still in action as well with the Wildcats getting set to take on West Virginia in Morgantown on Thursday. Tanking, a special teams player for the Wildcats, has shined when given the chance, including picking up two tackles for loss in a blowout win (48-14) against Oklahoma State recently.
While the fall sports are wrapping up, some of the winter sports are getting into gear meaning some more former Jackson County athletes getting into the action on the hardwood and the wrestling mats.
Former Wildcat Ryann Bowser is transitioning to the Division I level this season and has seen a little bit of action for the Texas Tech women’s basketball team so far, chipping in two points in six minutes in a recent 81-77 overtime win over Texas State.
Holton grad Macy Wallisch has come out strong for the 10th-ranked Baker Wildcats, averaging 6.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game to go with 2.7 blocks per contest. She has scored 10-plus points in Baker’s past two games and nearly tallied a double-double (12 points, nine rebounds) in a tight 67-63 win over Saint Mary.
Fellow HHS alum Kyrstie Miller is also off to a strong start with a solid collegiate debut for Emporia State against Division I Kansas State, pouring in eight points, grabbing four rebounds and tallying two steals in a close 54-50 loss. She matched that point total and also added two assists and three rebounds in the Hornets’ most recent win, 62-51, over Midwestern State.
Three area players are chipping in for the Ottawa University women’s basketball team, including RVHS grad Chelsea Hodison, HHS grad Connor Strader and WHS grad Nichole Boden.
Hodison had eight points in the Braves’ lone win so far this season over Grace University (92-45), while Strader had five assists and five rebounds in a recent loss to Benedictine and all three have seen significant court time so far this season.
Collegiate wrestling is under way now as well and a handful of former Panthers and Wildcats are getting into the action on the mats as well.
A couple of Wildcats even met up in competition recently as Northeast Oklahoma A&M went up against Colby Community College recently, with former teammates Lane Lassiter and Hunter Price on opposing sides. Lassiter and Northeast Oklahoma picked up the win and Lassiter also got a win in his match, while the 2013-2014 NJCAA All-American Price was not as lucky.
Lassiter has had a solid start to the season in sporadic action. In a couple of tournaments so far, he has racked up a 7-4 record and also won the only other dual match he has been a part of this season.
At the NAIA level, some other area wrestlers are making strong debuts with RVHS grad Tanner Ogden competing at Bethany and Holton alum Jonah Lutz on the roster for Ottawa.
In tournament action so far, Ogden has compiled a 3-4 overall record, while Lutz has seen mat time in a few duals and picked up two wins and just one loss.
With the winter season starting to pick up, look for more updates on these athletes’ exploits to come. If you have a child or grandchild competing at that level that can be featured in the alumni watch, be sure to contact Kelly at The Recorder office (364-3141) or e-mail information to email@example.com.