Local athletes make news in college sports

From August to May, my sports pages are generally dedicated to covering the Howard County area high schools, middle schools and Central Methodist University.

When the time comes around, we’ll cover a local high school athlete signing a Letter of Intent to play sports at the collegiate level. In fact, one player signed a letter this past school year, with New Franklin’s Tyler White deciding to continue his baseball career at North Central Missouri College.

But with the busy sports season in the area during the school year, it isn’t always the easiest to try and keep up with each of these athletes throughout the year. Well, now that we have a few down weeks before fall sports begin to pick up in August, I’ve had the chance to look into what these athletes accomplished over the past year.

But through it all, I came across 12 names. Each entry goes into detail to tell what they did this past school year in their respective sport.

* * * * * * * *

Zach Beringer

ZachBeringerThe former ace pitcher for the Harrisburg baseball team nearly had his baseball career come to an end following a car accident in November 2011.

According to an article in The Wichita Eagle, Beringer had two rods and five screws placed in his back to repair eight vertebrae during surgery after the accident. He also tore three ligaments and the meniscus in his left knee. In January 2012, former Wichita State head coach Gene Stephenson said he was unsure “whether (Beringer)’ll be able to pitch at this level again.”

After missing the entire 2012 season due to injury, Beringer returned to the mound for the Shockers this spring for his second full season.

Beringer missed the first 10 games of the 2013 season while serving a suspension because of the alcohol-related car accident. He made his return to the mound on March 6 at home against the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Beringer earned the win in his season debut, going five innings and allowing one run on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. Of his 74 pitches, 55 were for strikes.

As it turns out, that would be the only win of the season for Beringer. In 2013, the redshirt sophomore appeared in a total of 11 games, starting five of them. In 28 innings, he posted a 6.43 ERA and struck out 23 batters while walking 14. Of the 33 hits he allowed, only five went for extra bases.

Beringer suffered his three losses against Hawaii, Arizona State (ranked No. 22 at the time) and Kansas. He appeared in one Missouri Valley Conference game, throwing two scoreless innings on April 26 in a 5-4 loss at Southern Illinois.

Wichita State won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, earning one of the 64 spots in the NCAA postseason tournament. The Shockers joined Arkansas and Bryant for the Kansas State regional. Wichita State, the No. 4 seed in the bracket, lost to Kansas State 20-11 and Arkansas 3-1, ending the 2013 season with a 39-28 record.

Beringer’s final appearance of the season came in the Kansas State game, throwing 1-1/3 innings and allowed one run on one hit with three walks and two strikeouts.

In two seasons at Wichita State, Beringer has a 4-6 record with a 4.97 ERA. In 70-2/3 innings, he has struck out 56 and walked 37 batters.

Following the end of the season, the Shockers fired Stephenson after serving as head coach for 36 seasons. Wichita State hired Todd Butler as his replacement.

* * * * * * * *

Tabatha Dickey

TabathaDickeyIn her senior season at Central Methodist University, Fayette’s own Tabatha (Leaton) Dickey was a piece of yet another historical season for the Central Methodist University women’s cross country team.

Dickey was one of seven runners to compete for the Eagles at the 2012 NAIA Women’s Cross Country National Championships, which were held in Vancouver, Wash., on Nov. 17.

She finished in 224th place out of 320 competitors, posting a 5K time of 20:30. CMU came in 25th place out of the 32 teams that qualified and Dickey posted the fourth-best time for the Eagles, finishing behind Emily Nealley, Taylor Beaverson and Elise Schreiber.

For the second straight season, the Central Methodist women won the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship, this time at Graceland University. At conference, Dickey took 11th place out of 68 competitors in a time of 19:21.30. She was named to the All-Conference honorable mention team.

In six competitions last fall, Dickey posted sub-20 minute times on four occasions. Her best 5K time was at the HAAC Championships, but she also had a time of 19:22.28 at the Gary Stoner Invitational at Fayette Golf Course, Central Methodist’s only home meet of the season.

Dickey ran cross country at Central Methodist for four seasons, but she also competed with the track and field team in the spring. She ran the 10,000-meters at a couple of events during the outdoor season, posting her best time of 40:57.05 in March at the Washington University Invitational.

Her final collegiate competition came at the HAAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships on May 4 at Baker University. Dickey finished in sixth place out of eight competitors, running the 10,000-meters in a time of 42:34.13.

Dickey leaves Central Methodist as one of the top 15 cross country runners in the program’s history.

* * * * * * * *

Ashley Fisher

AshleyFisherAfter spending two seasons with the Columbia College women’s basketball team, Harrisburg graduate Ashley Fisher was well on her way to scoring 1,000 points for the Cougars. But for the second time in as many seasons, Fisher stepped away from college basketball, and this time, she didn’t come back.

That being said, Fisher’s collegiate career hasn’t come to a close. Instead of hitting the hardwood, she hit the links this spring for the inaugural season of the Columbia College women’s golf program.

Fisher was one of six members competing for the start-up program. In addition to being a two-time All-State basketball player, Fisher also golfed in high school for the Lady Bulldogs. She qualified for the state tournament during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, finishing as high as 35th place individual at the Class 1 state tournament in 2008.

Due to the wet weather this spring, the Columbia College women’s golf team was only able to play in three tournaments in 2013. In her debut, Fisher came in 36th place at the Owls Spring Invitational hosted by William Woods University, shooting a two-day score of 193.
In her only other appearance during the spring, Fisher took eighth place at the Hannibal-LaGrange Spring Invitational, shooting a 189. The Cougars also competed at the American Midwest Conference Championships, but Fisher did not finish the tournament.

Following the 2012-13 season, Fisher was announced as one of 131 recipients of the NAIA Scholar-Athlete award for women’s golfers. To receive the award, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 and attain at least a junior standing academically.

In addition to playing for the women’s golf team, Fisher also served as an assistant coach for the Harrisburg girls basketball team this past season under Dan Bachmeier.

* * * * * * * *

Haley Heuer

HaleyHeuerHarrisburg’s four-time All-State track and field medalist took her talents to Warrensburg this past season, competing in throwing events for the University of Central Missouri at the NCAA Division II level.

Working under UCM throwers coach Tucker Woolsey, Heuer competed in the weight throw and shot put during the indoor track and field season. In her collegiate debut at the UCM Invite, she took fifth place in the weight throw with a distance of 44’-6” and finished fourth in the shot put with a throw of 40’-4.25”.

In high school, Heuer threw the shot put and discus, so the weight throw was new to her repertoire this year. Her best throw in the event came at the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships in Warrensburg, where she threw it 45’-1.75”. Her best throw in the shot put during the winter indoor season was 43’-0.5” at the Jayhawk Classic at the University of Kansas.

Heuer continued to throw the shot put during the spring outdoor season, while dropping the weight throw and adding the hammer throw and discus to her list of events. A three-time state medalist in the discus during high school, Heuer’s best throw of the season came at the Mule Relays in Warrensburg. Her top throw traveled a distance of 128’-8”.

Heuer’s best all-around day during her freshman season came at the Baker Wildcat Open on April 27. She placed in the top-six in all three of her events, taking fifth place in the discus and sixth place in the hammer throw and the shot put. During the indoor and outdoor seasons, Heuer combined to have six top-six finishes in her various events.

Her best throws in the hammer throw and shot put came at the MIAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Heuer threw 134’-1” in the hammer throw and 39’-2.25” in the shot put.

* * * * * * * *

Tyler Hudlow

TylerHudlowPlaying in his second and final season for North Central Missouri College, the Harrisburg native played eight games for the Pirates, who finished the spring 2013 season with an 18-33 record.

Hudlow had 18 plate appearances, going 3-for-15 with a .200 batting average. He scored three runs, drove in one run and struck out just one time while drawing three walks.

Defensively, Hudlow posted a .957 fielding percentage, committing just one error in 23 chances while playing infield for NCMC.

As a freshman for the Pirates during the 2012 season, Hudlow played 32 games, going 12-for-75 at the plate. He scored six runs, drove in four and had a .259 on-base percentage.

* * * * * * * *

Sam Kircher

SamKircherThe sky seems to be the limit for the New Franklin graduate following her sophomore season with the Lincoln University softball team.

Kircher led the Blue Tigers offensively this past spring, posting the team’s best batting average at .336. She led her team in hits (43), runs scored (18), runs batted in (19), total bases (63) and on-base percentage (.394). She started all 42 games at shortstop for Lincoln, which finished the season with a 14-27-1 record.

At the plate, Kircher went 43-for-128 with 11 extra-base hits, including four home runs. The three-time All-State softball player for New Franklin also stole six bases in eight attempts and had 12 multi-hit games and once had a six-game hitting streak. Kircher spent 21 games batting in the No. 3 spot of the batting order and 17 games hitting out of the leadoff spot.

As for top performances in a single game, Kircher scored three runs in a 5-0 win against Southwest Baptist on April 13. In that game, she went 3-for-4 — all singles — and stole three bases, also a season-high.

Defensively, Kircher posted a .919 fielding percentage at shortstop, committing 12 errors in 149 chances. She recorded a season-best six assists on April 3 against Truman State.

Through two seasons, Kircher has never missed a start for the Blue Tigers in 93 games. She is 18 hits away from reaching 100 career hits at Lincoln and has a .297 batting average through two seasons. She’ll return next season as Lincoln’s top offensive threat.

For her efforts this season, Kircher received All-MIAA honorable mention honors, along with three of her teammates. In addition, the MIAA honored Kircher by placing her on the conference’s Academic Honor Roll. Kircher, who is majoring in biology, had a 3.6 GPA.

In Lincoln’s one full game against Central Methodist University, a game in which Kircher faced former New Franklin teammate Melanie Wilmsmeyer, Kircher went 2-for-3 against the Eagles with a double. The two teams played a scoreless tie in the second game of the doubleheader in Pensacola, Fla., a game in which Kircher had two hits off NAIA All-American pitcher Aubrey Utley.

* * * * * * * *

Lindsey Kunkel

LindseyKunkelThe former Fayette All-State sprinter spent her junior season running for the Emporia State University women’s track and field team, specializing in two events: the 400-meters and the 4×400-meter relay.

Kunkel spent her freshman and sophomore seasons at the University of Central Missouri, before transferring to Emporia State. Last season, she ran in a handful of competitions, but she did so as an unattached runner.

During the indoor season, Kunkel ran the 600-yards instead of the 400-meters. Her best showing in the 600 came at the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships in Warrensburg, where she finished in sixth place with a season-best time of 1:25.55 in the event finals.

Throughout the indoor season, Kunkel ran one of the legs of the 4×400. She started the winter season running on the Emporia State “B” relay in the event but quickly moved up to the “A” team. The relay team finished in fifth place in the conference and went on to take 11th place at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships at Birmingham, Ala. The relay team posted a season-best time of 3:47.53 at nationals.

Continuing onto the outdoor track and field season, Kunkel flourished in her first meet at the ESU Spring Open. She won the 400-meters with a season-best time of 58.12 seconds, her only individual event victory of the season. In comparison, Kunkel came in second place in Class 2 at state track in the 400-meters back in 2009, posting a time of 57.51 seconds.

On the 4×400-meter relay team, Kunkel and her three Emporia State teammates improved their time by 17 seconds over the course of the season. After their only win at the ESU Spring Open, the quartet came in second place at the conference meet and qualified for the national meet at Pueblo, Colo.

In the preliminaries, Emporia State claimed the final qualifying spot for the event finals. In the final race of the season, the Hornets finished in sixth place in the nation, running the 4×400 in a season-best time of 3:42.80. Kunkel ran in the third leg of the relay.

Following the season, Kunkel was placed on the MIAA Scholar-Athlete list. The health promotions major had a 3.7 GPA, which also earned her a spot on the MIAA Honor Roll.

* * * * * * * *

Bruce Marshall

BruceMarshallThe 6-foot-10 phenom made a splash in his senior season at Fayette and continued his playing career in Springfield at Missouri State University.

Wearing No. 35 for the Bears and listed at center, Marshall made his unofficial debut for Missouri State during a four-game tour at Costa Rica last August. In those games, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds, twice scoring in double figures. In a game against Abogados, Marshall had 10 points and nine rebounds.

During the regular season, Marshall played in 26 of Missouri State’s 33 games, starting in two of them: against Alabama A&M and New Mexico State. He made his NCAA Division I debut in the Bears’ season opener against Philander Smith on Nov. 9. In nine minutes, he grabbed two rebounds.

Marshall scored his first career points against Malone on Nov. 21 in Springfield. In 16 minutes off the bench, he made 4-of-7 shots, including his only 3-point attempt, and scored a season-best nine points while grabbing three rebounds.

He missed some time during the second half of the season after suffering a concussion, but he returned to the lineup in late February. Marshall’s final appearance of the season came in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on March 7 against Southern Illinois.

Although Missouri State plays in a mid-major conference, Marshall found himself guarding All-American Doug McDermott of Creighton at times when the Bears played the Bluejays. Wichita State, which reached the NCAA Final Four, also played three games against Missouri State.

For the season, Marshall averaged 1.5 points per game during 8.6 minutes per contest. However, after making 82 percent of his free throws in his senior year at Fayette, Marshall struggled from the charity stripe at Missouri State, making just 5-of-11 attempts. He shot 34.2 percent from the field and make 7-of-21 3-pointers. He totalled 38 points and 26 rebounds for the season.

Missouri State finished the season with an 11-22 record, including 7-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

* * * * * * * *

Eric Penton

EricPentonThe Harrisburg graduate spent his freshman year playing baseball for Rockhurst University of NCAA Division II after a fine career with the Bulldogs.

Although he is listed on the roster for the Hawks, Penton did not play in any varsity games for Rockhurst during the spring 2013 season.

Coming back home this summer, Penton is playing for the Moberly Sixers American Legion baseball team. In his most recent appearance on July 6, Penton pitched a complete-game 2-1 victory for the Sixers over Chillicothe Post 25. In the win, he scattered six hits with two strikeouts and did not allow a walk.

Moberly is hosting the Legion district tournament this week, which will include teams from Trenton, Chillicothe and Hannibal. The Sixers are managed by Rick Andrews.

* * * * * * * *

Josh Taylor

JoshTaylorThe Harrisburg graduate has battled plenty of injuries during his college baseball career, and 2013 wasn’t any different.

Battling a broken finger this past spring while playing for Fontbonne University, an NCAA Division III program in St. Louis, Taylor started in 22 games and appeared in four other games for the Griffins. Of his 22 starts, 15 were in left field, three in center field and four were as the designated hitter.

Taylor batted .269 this season for Fontbonne, going 21-of-78 with two doubles, one triple and one home run. He scored 18 runs, drove in 10 runs and stole nine bases in 10 attempts.

As for fielding, Taylor had a .971 fielding percentage, committing one error in 35 chances.
Taylor’s best day of the season was on April 29 in a doubleheader at Principia College. In the first game, he went 2-for-4 with a double, three runs and one stolen base. In the second game, he went 1-for-2 with three runs, two RBIs and a home run.

Fontbonne finished the season with an 18-24 record, but posted a 14-10 record in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Before coming to Fontbonne, Taylor spent a year at St. Louis Community College in Forest Park. Since the start of his college career, he has had surgery on his labrum and dislocated his shoulder during his junior year. His best season, his sophomore year in 2011, Taylor batted .301 for the Griffins and did not make an error in 21 games.

Although Taylor was able to redshirt one season and has one year of athletic eligibility remaining, he said he is ready to move past his baseball journey. He is moving to Birmingham, Ala., to be closer to family.

* * * * * * * *

Hank Wellborn

HankWellbornAfter spending two seasons at Pratt Community College in Kansas, Wellborn signed as a junior college transfer with Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.

The 5-foot-11 right-handed pitcher was all set to make the move to the NCAA Division II level this spring, but arm problems prevented Wellborn from playing this season. On March 29, Wellborn underwent Tommy John surgery on his right arm, effectively ending the 2013 season for the 2010 Glasgow graduate.

Wellborn said he took a medical redshirt this season and still has two years of eligibility remaining with the Ichabods.

The 2012-13 baseball season wasn’t a total wash for Wellborn, who said he got to play some during the fall for Washburn. He said the team scrimmaged several times and spent three weekends of scrimmages against area community college teams before wrapping up the fall with a World Series.

At Pratt, Wellborn split time between the infield and the pitcher’s mound, but at Washburn, his focus is shifting entirely to the pitcher’s mound. The Ichabods coaching staff worked him as a starter, middle reliever and closer during the fall months. In his final appearance of the fall, Wellborn pitched 5-2/3 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit.

* * * * * * * *

Melanie Wilmsmeyer

MelanieWilmsmeyerThe New Franklin graduate made it to the NAIA World Series for the second consecutive season with the Central Methodist University softball team, playing in 26 of the Eagles’ 48 games this past spring. She started in 20 of those games.

Wilmsmeyer spent the season as Central Methodist’s backup catcher and also served as the team’s designated hitter in some games. She finished the 2013 season with a .286 batting average, going 18-for-63 with two doubles, four home runs, 10 runs scored and 21 RBIs. As a catcher, Wilmsmeyer had a .972 fielding percentage and committed just two errors in 72 chances.

Wilmsmeyer had two standout games at the plate this season for the Eagles. On March 23 against Graceland, she went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Then, on April 4 against Hannibal-LaGrange, Wilmsmeyer again went 3-for-4, this time with a double, a home run and three RBIs. She also scored three times in the game.

Her final appearance of the season came in the quarterfinals of the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals. Wilmsmeyer struck out in her one at-bat as a pinch hitter in a 9-0 win against Graceland.

The Central Methodist softball team won the HAAC regular-season and postseason tournament championships, earning another automatic bid to the NAIA World Series. In 2012, 32 teams competed at one big tournament, but in 2013, the format was adjusted to send teams to opening round four-team regionals, with the winners advancing to the World Series.

The Eagles went 1-2 in their opening round bracket at Claremore, Okla., picking up a win against Morningside College. Wilmsmeyer did not make an appearance in the NAIA World Series.

In three seasons at Central Methodist, Wilmsmeyer has a career .295 batting average with five home runs and 38 RBIs. As a catcher, she has thrown out 2-of-8 basestealers.

Following the end of the season, Wilmsmeyer was one of nine Central Methodist softball players named to the NAIA Scholar-Athlete team. To make the list, players must have at least a 3.5 GPA and have at least a junior academic standing. The Eagles had the most scholar-athletes of any NAIA softball program.

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About hocosportsblog

I cover high school and college sports in the Howard County area for The Fayette Advertiser and the Democrat-Leader. All views and opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fayette Advertiser or The Democrat Leader.
This entry was posted in Fayette High School basketball, Fayette High School track, Glasgow sports, Harrisburg sports, New Franklin sports. Bookmark the permalink.

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