Year in Review

From the volleyball team’s inspiring finish in conference play to the men’s basketball team’s third trip in four years to Branson, Missouri, it’s been an incredible athletic year in Lancer sports. Jessica Stolle and MariJean Wegert, two of the all-time greats in Grace women’s athletics, completed their probable hall of fame careers this season, and we witnessed junior baseball player Nate Wottring climb to the top of Grace’s hitting records. Check out Grace’s End of the Year Awards and Top 10 Stories of the year, chosen by athletic director Chad Briscoe and Grace’s Sports Information Department.

END OF THE YEAR AWARDS

Male Athlete of the Year: Bruce Grimm Jr. (men’s basketball)

Grace’s only male athlete to receive NAIA Honorable Mention accolades helped lead the Lancers to another NAIA national tournament appearance, averaging 13.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.9 apg and 2.1 spg. Grace’s sophomore transfer was also named First Team All-MCC.

In Grace’s last seven regular season games, Grimm had three games with 27 points or more, helping secure the Lancers’ bid to Branson. He had a season-high 29 points against Spring Arbor on February 12, totaled a season-high 11 rebounds against Taylor on January 8 and contributed a season-high 10 assists in Grace’s final game of the season on March 10.

Honorable Mention: Nate Wottring

Transfer of the Year: Bruce Grimm Jr (men’s basketball)

Last February, the 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball Runner-up was playing for East Tennessee State, preparing for a first-round matchup against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. This February, he helped Grace finish second in the MCC and earn a bid to the NAIA national tournament.

Honorable Mention: Clifford Buttermore

Female Athlete of the Year: MariJean Wegert (women’s track and cross country)

In her senior season, Wegert’s unorthodox barefoot running style got her to the NAIA championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. She finished 17th in the 800-meter in outdoor nationals, finished eighth in the 800 at indoor nationals and finished 60th in a field of 331 runners at cross country nationals.

After a stressful junior season, “MJ” contemplated her return for her senior campaign. Under first-year head coach Jeff Raymond, however, Wegert returned and completed her probable Hall of Fame career, resetting the Grace College record books and becoming one of the most successful runners in Lady Lancer history.

Honorable Mention: Jessica Stolle

Freshman of the Year: Dana Johnston (volleyball), Juaneice Jackson (women’s basketball)

Right from the start, Johnston proved she would be a key component to the team when she tallied 16 kills in the Lady Lancers’ first match. Johnston was second on the team with 318 kills overall, leading Grace to a third-place finish in the MCC and receiving First Team All-MCC honors. She totaled a season-high 19 kills against both Bluefield College on Aug. 27 and Goshen College on Oct. 5. Her stellar .309 kill percentage was the highest on Grace’s team.

On the hardwood, “JJ” earned Freshman of the Year honors in the MCC as Grace’s sixth man and averaged 7.3 ppg. Jackson filled in for injured Hannah Lengel nicely on Jan. 29 when she exploded for 26 points against Marian University. She had another big performance two games later when she tallied 17 against Goshen College.

Honorable Mention: Olivia Winget

Comeback of the Year: David Henry (men’s basketball)

After an injured back sidelined him for all but 10 games of the 2009-10 season, Henry bounced back in his senior campaign and was an integral part of the Lancers’ national tournament run. Henry ranked No. 12 in the NAIA in 3-point percentage (.434) with 72 made threes in 166 attempts.

Henry drained five threes a trio of times throughout the season and had a season-high 20 points on Dec. 1, leading Grace to a victory against conference foe Bethel College, Grace’s first win against Bethel in four years.

Honorable Mention: Kiera Gray, Jessica Anton

Two-Sport Athlete of the Year: Kiera Gray (basketball and track & field)

One year after tearing her ACL, Gray averaged 9.2 ppg for the Lady Lancers in their 2010-11 season. She also competed in the high jump for track and field.

Gray scored a season-high 22 points in Grace’s last game against Mid-America Christian on March 19. She scored in double-figures 13 times throughout the season and shot 36.1 percent from the floor. In the high jump, Gray qualified for NCCAA Nationals and finished in seventh place.

Honorable Mention: Derek Zwier and Michael Humprey

Clutch Play of the Year: Grimm’s layup secures NAIA berth, Wottring’s home run breaks record

Trailing 56-55 with 17 seconds remaining, Bruce Grimm Jr. grabbed a long rebound and went coast-to-coast to score the go-ahead bucket with 12.7 seconds left to give Grace the 57-56 upset against No. 14 University of Saint Francis. The victory was a momentous one, most likely punching Grace’s ticket to Branson, Mo., for the NAIA national tournament.

On April 23, Nate Wottring completed his climb to the top of Grace’s hitting records. Wottring blasted a home run over the left-field fence against the University of Saint Francis for his 153rd hit, making him Grace’s all-time career hits leader in only his junior season.

Honorable Mention: Victoria Casey nets game-winner against Marian

Moment of the Year: Volleyball wins for Kastner

One week after the tragedy that took the life of freshman teammate Mallori Kastner, the Lady Lancers, supported by a packed-out OCC, defeated Huntington in straight sets on Sept. 24.

Hundreds wore orange to the game, Kastner’s favorite color, and the campus united in a time of sorrow and suffering.

Right, head coach Andria Harshman hugs Kastner’s father.

Honorable Mention: Wegert qualifies for three NAIA races

Character Award: Genevieve Benson and Dayton Merrell

Both were selected by athletic director Chad Briscoe for their exemplary Christian character on and off the athletic stage.

Benson was recently named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete and was also one of 14 NAIA student-athletes selected for the the Red Cross Collegiate Leadership Program in Washington, DC.

Merrell received the Inaugural NCCAA Game Plan 4 LIFE (GP4L) Character Award for men’s athletics in early April for his leadership on the team and his involvement in the campus community.

Honorable Mention: Bethany Michalski (volleyball), Brad Heintz (baseball), Victoria Casey (soccer) and Sean Smith (cross country, track).

Coach of the Year: Andria Harshman, volleyball

In her third year at the helm of Grace’s volleyball program, Harshman led the seniorless Lady Lancers to a third-place conference finish following an eighth-place finish the year before.

Grace improved from 9-24 overall in 2009 to 17-17 in 2010. The Lady Lancers’ conference success was their best since Harshman’s senior year at Grace.

More importantly, she led her team through a tragedy that shattered the campus and continued to win for the Kastner family. Following the tragedy, Grace won four of its next five matches and went on a three-match tear toward the end of conference season.

Honorable mention: Scott Blum, women’s basketball

TOP STORIES OF THE YEAR

1. Livin’ on a Prayer: “Crush Huntington on Friday. But remember, it’s just a game.” The motivational words came from Mallori Kastner’s father during her memorial chapel service on Sept. 23. The team played inspired the remainder of the season, defeating Huntington in straight sets on Sept. 24 and finishing third in the conference after an eighth-place finish last season.

2. It’s About Time: Grace’s men’s basketball team swept the rival Pilots of Bethel College with an 84-76 win on Dec. 1 and an 87-82 win on Jan. 25, their first victories in eight contests.

3. Barefoot Sensation: Senior MariJean Wegert capped off her stellar career with the Lancers, qualifying for the NAIA Championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

4. Quiet but Dominant: Senior Jessica Stolle completed the best tennis career in Grace’s history with a 48-8 overall record at No. 1 singles.

5. Busy, Busy, Busy: Starting next year, Grace’s athletic department will host both the men’s and women’s NCCAA basketball championships.

6. The Quest for No. 153: Junior Nate Wottring broke Grace’s all-time career hits record with style on April 23, jacking his record-breaking hit over the left field wall to break Mike Cox’s record of 152 hits.

7. A Signature Win: Head baseball coach Josh Bailey led the Lancers to a victory against Spring Arbor on April 20, Bailey’s first victory against the Cougars in his four years with the program and possibly the first victory against SAU since they joined the MCC.

8. It’s a Start: For the first time in the last half-decade, the Grace softball team earned a berth in the MCC tournament under head coach Heather Johnson.

9. Next Stop, Winona Lake: In their tour across the country, the Harlem Globetrotters stopped at the Orthopaedic Capital Center on Jan. 19.

10. Top of the Charts: Grace set a Guinness World Record with its 379-person Knockout game on April 8.

The award recipients and top stories were chosen by athletic director Chad Briscoe and the Sports Information Department.

One Response to “Year in Review”

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