Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Grace Clinches Berth to NCCAA World Series

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Pictured is Grace's softball team celebrating its 2014 NCCAA Midwest Region championship on Tuesday

Grace’s softball team capped off its best season in nearly two decades by securing a trip to the 2014 NCCAA World Series. Grace defeated Cedarville 9-5 to win the NCCAA Midwest Region championship on Tuesday. The Lady Lancers (27-28) will play in the NCCAA World Series for the first time since 1997. The national tournament is held in Roanoke, Va., beginning May 15.

Entering the regional tournament, Grace was given the No. 4 seed in the five-team field. The Lady Lancers won three straight games on Monday to earn a place in the finals. After losing 7-2 to Cedarville in the opening game on Tuesday, the automatic bid for the World Series came down to one final game between Grace and Cedarville. This time the Lady Lancers made good on their chance, claiming a 9-5 victory to punch the team’s ticket to Virginia.

“The first game we were really tight and played not to lose. We hit the ball but didn’t make things happen,” said head coach Heather Johnson. “My challenge to the girls in the second game was to play for each other, communicate and give it all for each other. That’s exactly what they did, and we played how we were capable of playing.”

The Yellow Jackets struck first in the championship game and maintained a 1-0 lead over the first two innings. Hannah Adams swung momentum back in Grace’s favor with a three-run home run in the third inning. Grace seized control of the game with a five-run fourth, highlighted by two RBIs from Clarissa Knight and a two-out RBI single from Alex Shipley. Shipley, Olivia Winget and Tiffany Featherston made critical defensive plays to keep the Yellow Jackets off the scoreboard until the final inning.

After Winget drove in Grace’s ninth run, Cedarville faced a 9-1 deficit in its final at-bats. The Yellow Jackets managed to score four runs, but Amanda Bowman finished the job from the mound. In the opening game against Cedarville, the Lady Lancers did not warm up their bats until the sixth inning. Grace cut a 4-0 deficit in half as Knight’s drive brought in Brooke Shell and Featherston to score during the sixth. But Cedarville ballooned its lead to 7-2 with three more tallies in the seventh inning, and Grace had no response.

“Reaching NCCAA Nationals was a goal we set at the beginning of the year. Making it to nationals feels like proof that we’ve been doing the right things as a program,” Johnson said. “Our first few years [at Grace] were hard, so you start to question things. But this year has been great in many ways, including seeing spiritual growth since the preseason. We feel like this is proof that if you do the right things off the field, you’ll see the results on the field.”

Grace Softball Wins Three, Advances to Regional Championship

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Three games. Three wins. That’s what it took for Grace’s softball team to advance to the championship game of the NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament on Monday.

Grace defeated Oakland City, Spring Arbor and Indiana Wesleyan by a combined total of four runs to complete a remarkable charge to Tuesday’s title game.

The Lady Lancers will play for a berth into the 2014 NCCAA World Series on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the regional championship. Grace will take on whichever team advances from the losers’ bracket. The Lady Lancers will need to be defeated twice in the double-elimination format. The NCCAA World Series is held in Roanoke, Va.

Grace won 4-3 against Oakland City, 5-3 against Spring Arbor and 5-4 against Indiana Wesleyan.

More details will be released as game results and statistics are made available.

“I really felt like we kept making adjustments throughout each game and didn’t panic. If the other team got a run, we focused on getting it back. Our defense made some really kept plays to get out of innings too,” said Grace head coach Heather Johnson. “Lots of different people played well for us today, and our senior leadership stepped up big today with timely hitting. The girls are very motivated and understand what needs to be done. We’ll get some rest tonight and come out tomorrow playing to win.”

Rex Wins Prestigious NCCAA Wheeler Award

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Pictured is a filed photo of Jonathan Rex.

Senior Jonathan Rex became Grace’s second NCCAA Wheeler Award winner, announced at the NCCAA Outdoor National Championships.

The Wheeler Award recognizes the outstanding NCCAA Division I men’s track and field student-athlete who excels in competition, skill, academics and Christian service during his career.

Rex follows Tim Sprankle (2002) as Grace’s winners of the NCCAA Wheeler Award.

“Jonathan [Rex] has been a consistent and valuable performer in competition, but more importantly, has been a quiet leader who is liked and respected by everyone on our team,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “Some of his contributions are hard to quantify, but he has nonetheless made an impact during his time in our program and around campus.”

Rex has earned two NCCAA All-American honors during his career with the 4×800-meter relay teams in 2012 and 2013. He was also part of the 4×800 squad that set the school record in indoor track in 2013.

He has been heavily involved in campus life at Grace as well, serving in various dorm leadership positions.

Graham Named All-American, Two School Records Fall

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Pictured is Donovan Graham (left) running for the Lancers.

ROME, Ga. – Donovan Graham’s All-American performance highlighted Grace’s track and field team’s final two days at NCCAA Outdoor Nationals.

Graham finished second in the 800-meter run in 1:56.83 to earn NCCAA All-American status (top-three finish). His first lap was slow and tactical, but he made his burst late to place second nationally.

Grace also set two new school records over its final two days at the national meet. Sabrina Whitaker cleared the high jump at a Grace-record mark of 5-feet-3.75, finishing sixth overall. Jo Boren shattered her own school record in the 400, placing fourth in a time of 58.22.

“This trip has been a great experience as we were able to compete against some very good competition in a championship atmosphere,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “We set three new school records and posted some other season-best performances. With a large group of underclassmen, we look forward to the future of the Grace track and field program.”

Lance Taylor, who qualified for NAIA Nationals earlier in the season, ran a 48.83 in the 400 to finish sixth nationally. Jonathan Rex closed out his Lancer career by competing in the 800 and 1500.

Erin McPherson placed eighth in the hammer throw, reaching the mark in the final throw of her collegiate career. The women’s 4×800 relay team of Allison Zylstra, Jenna McClellan, Katelyn McCullough and Rachel Fehring also placed eighth.

Other notable standouts included Jesse Feitz’s PR in the javelin, Drew Perrin’s ninth-place finish in the triple jump, Brandon Smith’s 10th-place finish in the 3000 steeplechase, Matthew Lee’s PR in the 800.

The Lancers will have one last chance to qualify athletes for NAIA Nationals at the Dr. Keeler Invitational on Friday.

Trio of Lancers Named All-League

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Pictured is former Warsaw Tiger standouts Jacob Bloom (left) and Joey Hickerson. Both players were named All-Crossroads League for Grace.

Grace’s baseball team under head coach Bill Barr hauled in several All-Crossroads League awards, released on Monday.

The Lancers placed three players on the All-CL Team in Jacob Bloom, Joey Hickerson and Sammy Wilkerson. Bloom was also named the league’s Gold Glove winner for right field.

Jacob Bloom completed his final regular season with the Lancers by pacing the team in nearly every offensive category. Bloom hit .381 for the season, leading the team with 45 hits, 29 runs, 9 doubles and 3 home runs. He also stole eight bases and did not record a fielding error in 41 games patrolling Grace’s outfield.

The senior outfielder ranks highly among Grace’s career leaders, including No. 2 in hits, No. 3 in runs, No. 9 in RBIs, No. 4 in doubles, No. 5 in triples and No. 5 in walks.

Joey Hickerson was elected as the CL’s top designated hitter in 2014. The speedy outfielder led Grace with 4 triples, 21 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He batted .349 in the regular season, notching 44 hits with seven doubles and a homer.

Sammy Wilkerson was named the CL’s best relief pitcher in his freshman campaign. He posted a team-low 4.71 ERA on the season, striking out 35 batters in 49.2 innings. Wilkerson earned a 4-1 record, appearing in 14 games on the mound.

The Lancers earned a spot in the CL Tournament and will face top-seeded Mt. Vernon Nazarene on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. The double-elimination tournament continues through Wednesday.

Shell, Knight, Adams Earn All-League Honors

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Pictured are (left) Hannah Adams and Brooke Shell

A trio of Lady Lancer softball players picked up All-Crossroads League awards for their performance in the regular season.

Junior outfielder Brooke Shell and freshman Clarissa Knight were named First Team All-CL, and freshman Hannah Adams was an honorable mention for All-CL in her first season.

Additionally, Shell won a place on the CoSIDA Academic All-District team, which honors both academic and athletic achievement.

Brooke Shell highlighted Grace’s outstanding year with one of the best offensive seasons in team history. She led the Crossroads League in batting average and stolen bases for much of the regular season and currently boasts a .444 average with 37 steals.

She has already broken three single-season records for the Lady Lancers in 2014, including most hits (79), most runs (57) and most steals (37).

Clarissa Knight has impressed in her first collegiate season, batting .373 with 56 hits, 32 runs, 10 doubles, 2 triples and a team-best 43 RBIs. Knight led Grace in CL games with a .394 batting average. She also swiped 13 bases.

Hannah Adams displayed a variety of skills in her freshman campaign, batting .331 with 44 hits, 20 runs, 11 doubles, 2 homers and 36 RBIs. She also topped Grace’s pitching staff with 98.2 innings on the mound, posting a team-low 2.54 ERA in league play.

The Heather Johnson-coached Lady Lancers wrapped up the 2014 regular season with their most league wins (20) and highest finish (fourth) in team history. They also topped 20 wins in a season for the first time since 1997.

Grace will next try to qualify for the NCCAA World Series at the Midwest Regional Tournament starting May 5 in Oakland City, Ind.

Lancers Take Seventh at League Championships

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Pictured is senior Caleb Rovenstine

Playing their final tournament of the year, Grace’s golf team placed seventh at the 2014 Crossroads League Championships.

The three-round tournament was held at Harbour Trees Golf Club on Monday and Tuesday.

Grace’s team score of 953 tied with St. Francis for seventh place. The Lancers’ best round came on Monday with a second-round 310. Grace struggled to a 321 in the opener and a 322 in the third round.

Senior Trey Stoll paced the Lancers with a 230, including a team-low 73 during the second round. He tied for 11th place on the individual list.

Taylor Fanning carded a tournament total of 239 (77-80-82) to finish second for Grace. Caleb Rovenstine concluded his Lancer career by improving every round with an 83-80-78 scorecard. Kyle Condon rounded out Grace’s scoring with a total of 245, including a second-round 78.

Zachary Allyn played as an individual, firing 84-79-91.

Stoll finished a strong year with a pair of medalist honors and two second-place finishes during the 2013-14 season. He was an NAIA Third Team All-American in 2013.

Winget Nabs League’s Player of the Week Award

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Pictured is Olivia Winget at bat for Grace (photo credit: Patrick Stukkie)

Olivia Winget’s standout performance last week was honored when she won the Crossroads League Player of the Week award on Monday.

Winget became the fourth Grace softball player to win a player of the week award from the Crossroads League, joining Brooke Shell, Samantha Johnson and Hannah Adams.

Winget pounded out 11 RBIs on a .462 batting average last week to help the Lady Lancers secure their highest league finish (4th) in program history. The senior first baseman/pitcher homered twice in Grace’s series with IWU, tying the score each time with her homer. She tallied a hit in seven of the team’s eight games this week and scored eight runs.

She is the program’s all-time leader in hits and home runs with a handful of postseason games remaining in her sparkling career.

The Lady Lancers open up the CL Tournament on Wednesday against fifth-seeded Mt. Vernon Nazarene. The double-elimination tournament will continue through May 2.

Area Businesses Contribute to Mock Interview Night for Grace Students

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Pictured is Grace College student, Miles Barber.

A mock interview event for Grace College juniors and seniors was hosted last week by the Center for Career Connections at Grace College. On Wednesday, April 16, more than 50 Kosciusko County employers gathered at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center to give students an opportunity to practice their interview skills. Set up in “speed dating” style, mock interviews were conducted in two shifts with a networking session and dinner in between sessions.  Freshmen and sophomores from the Millennial Scholar Academy and the Orthopaedic Scholar Institute were also privileged to attend.

“The feedback we received from employers and students was exceptional,” said Denise Terry, director of the Center for Career Connections at Grace. “Everyone was impressed with how well the event flowed and how valuable this experience was for both our students and the employers.  Several employers are pursuing the students they met with for actual employment opportunities within their companies.”

Jeremy Mullins, commercial manager at Louis Dreyfus said, “This event was a great opportunity for different business owners to see what kind of talent we have in our own back yard. It also gave students the opportunity to see the businesses that are in their community. No matter what industry you are in, it pays to have those personal connections.”

Participating employers included: 1st Source Bank, ABC Industries, Best Schotz Productions, Big Brother/Big Sister, Biomet, Brandpoet, Cardinal Services, Center Street Partners, Kosciusko/Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, the City of Warsaw, Crowe Horwath, DePuy, Egg Innovations, EnPak, Grace College, Grace Village Retirement Community, Hand Industries, Harrison Elementary, Helvey and Associates, Jefferson Elementary, Lake City Bank, Leesburg Elementary, Louis Dreyfus, Maple Leaf Farms, Pierceton Elementary, Royal Blue, Smith Academy for Excellence, Silveus Insurance, Spherion Staffing Services, Star Bank, SYM Financial, Tree of Life Bookstore, uLead, United States Army, Warsaw Community Schools, Winona Lake Police Department, Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, Zimmer, and Zing! Recruiting.

Tim Minear, chief operating officer at Silveus Insurance, said, “As an employer in our community, this event was a great opportunity for us to team up and support the local college and students. The college is vital for our community, and the mock interviews event gave us the chance to jump in there and help.”

$350,000 Donation to Make Major Enhancements for Grace Soccer

Monday, April 28th, 2014

included is a visual rendering of the new soccer field by Design Collaborative

A comprehensive project is set to revamp Grace’s Miller Athletic Complex this summer, transforming the soccer complex to install lights, bleachers, team bench areas and a press box among other improvements.

A donor has pledged $350,000 anonymously to fund the soccer field improvements. Construction will be ongoing throughout the spring and summer and is scheduled to be completed by the start of the fall 2014 soccer season.

“These improvements to Miller Athletic Complex are a part of the college’s strategic plan to serve the needs of the entire Grace community,” said Grace President Dr. Bill Katip. “We’re creating valuable facility enhancements that will meet the needs for campus and varsity athletics and also attract members of the Grace community and prospective students. We cannot thank the donor enough for the commitment and passion to the continued growth and success of Grace College & Seminary.”

New lights installed at the soccer field will allow Grace men’s and women’s soccer games to be played at night for the first time. The teams will also enjoy upgraded team bench areas and a team meeting room at the field.

The soccer field itself will undergo a makeover with the pitch to be widened. The soccer complex will add 1,000 new bleacher seats, meeting the capacity requirement to host NAIA Opening Round matches.

Other upgrades to the soccer complex include a new scoreboard, fencing around the perimeter of the complex and a press box complete with wireless Internet to enable live video streaming of home matches.

The groundbreaking ceremony, held at the soccer fields, took place on Friday.

“We are very excited and thank the Lord for this gift that will enhance the soccer facility at Miller Athletic Complex,” said Grace Athletic Director Chad Briscoe. “We are humbled by the support from the donor who made this project a reality for our student-athletes, coaches, campus and community. This project will continue to impact the overall growth of the Miller Athletic Complex and make it an important part of campus life for the entire Grace community.”

According to Drew Flamm, Vice President for Advancement, the donor is an avid supporter of Grace College and the athletic programs. “We praise God for this gift. The family that made this gift loves Grace College and Grace College Athletics,” Flamm said. “They have invested their time, talent, and treasure to make the athletic program and our whole institution better. We have big plans for Grace College and Seminary, and so do our donors. We pray this is the one of many transformational gifts that makes a lifelong impact on students.”

Grace’s men’s soccer head coach Matt Hotchkin added: “We are extremely excited about this project. This is a huge deal for Grace soccer and Grace College. This will deepen the relationship with Grace and the community and will help us recruit the best of the best to Grace. Speaking for all of our former coaches and players, we are humbled with this great gift and are excited with how God will use this stadium to further His kingdom.”

Grace’s women’s soccer head coach Michael Voss remarked: “This is absolutely fantastic! I am super stoked for this renovation of our facility. The ceiling of possession-attacking futbol has been raised immeasurably. This positions Grace to host amazing matches and to exponentially increase the ability to live out our mission of loving God and being a baller. This is a fantastic time to be a Lancer!”