Written by Reid Maus and Ty Avila
As the weather begins to bitter and we exchange falling leaves for glistening snow, we reflect on the end of the fall sports while beginning to gain excitement for the winter and spring. The fall had some ups and some downs, but we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate some of the best athletes in each sport on their accomplishments this fall. So without further adieu, we would like to introduce The Witmarsum’s first Fall Sports awards.
Freshman of the Year: Darian Greeley
From the moment he stepped on the field, Greeley (Mt. Clemens, Mich./Chippewa Valley) shined. Stepping into the backfield at the end of the Franklin game, the running back immediately pushed his name up on the depth chart. Attacking the hole like a bulldog, the freshman was able to lead the conference not only with 6.1 yards per rush but also led in yards per game with 97.8 yards. Greeley was one of the focal points of the offense at the end of the season as he averaged over 100 yards in the last four games.
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Micah Roberson
There is no debate that Micah Roberson (Ada) is the best receiver in Bluffton history, instead, the fun conversation is where he sits as a receiver in the nation at the D3 level. The slot receiver haunted defensive coordinators for the past seasons and capped his illustrious career with another fantastic season in 2017. His 82 catches this season are third all-time in school history only shy of the numbers he put up the previous two seasons. A broken wrist hindered him slightly at the tail end of the season, yet the gamer played through the injury and helped the Beavers bring home the hammer in his final game for Bluffton.
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Isaac Zickafoose
If being honored the conference defensive player of the year in 2016 didn’t put a target on his back, being chosen as a preseason All-American certainly did. Opposing teams would shift their offensive game plans in order to neutralize the junior defensive playmaker, often times not to great avail. With the majority of the season being shut down facing double and triple teams, his heroics were most felt in the home game against Anderson where “Zic” had a field day. Three sacks, a blocked punt and a forced fumble, which lead to a scoop and score capitalized the day and highlighted the dominant season. Zic added to his stats and is currently sitting in third on Bluffton’s stat sheet with 43.5 TFL’s (tackles for losses), 176 sack yards and his 14 quarterback hurries are tops all-time at Bluffton.
Freshman of the Year: Remi Bower
Bower (Hamler/Patrick Henry) was the easy choice for freshman of the year. Her numbers speak for herself, as she ranked ninth in the conference in kills (264), a 13th rank (2.44) in kills per set in the conference. Bower was second only to Martini for the Beavers this year in these categories, and that earned her a spot on the HCAC All-Freshman team. The dual threat of Martini and Bower will be a force to be reckoned with going into next season.
Most Valuable Player: Bethany Martini
The junior, who has had a big role on the team in previous seasons had to kick it up a notch this season, and that’s exactly what she did. Leading the conference in kills and kills per set, Martini (Pickerington/North) asserted herself as one of the premier hitters in the conference. Only two hitters in Bluffton history had better seasons in terms of total kills, although she stands alone in the record books with 4.25 kills per set this season.
Freshman of the Year: Hannah Wagner
With about four freshmen out of the 13 total starting the entire year, Hannah Wagner (Cincinnati/Mother of Mercy) earned the women’s soccer Freshman of the Year award. With the majority of the women’s soccer team saying how much of a leader she was on the field, she continued to show constant improvement from start to finish. Wagner and the rest of the women’s soccer team will look to build off a good rebuilding year with all but two of their players returning next season.
Most Valuable Player: Brittany Huff
The senior, who hasn’t missed one single game in her entire career, secured a second-team all-conference honor in her final season on the pitch. The defensive player was actually able to find the back of the net on three different occasions this season, able to knock it in from at least midfield. With her name scattered through the record books and her leadership on the pitch, Huff (Union/Northmont) was the easy selection for Most Valuable Player.
Freshman of the Year: Timothy Murphy
The freshman midfielder was one of only two players to get an all-conference nod, as Murphy (Chesterfield Township, Mich./L’Anse Creuse) was chosen as an honorable mention. With youth and conference notice, Murphy should be a name to keep your eye on for years to come on the pitch, as he was one contributing factor as to why the Beavers allowed 12 fewer goals in the conference this year.
Most Valuable Player: Blake Hershberger
Being a focal point of the team suited Hershberger (Canton/McKinley) perfectly as he slotted himself in the leadership role quite nicely this season. Leading the team in goals and being a team leader made Hershberger an easy selection for the honor of Most Valuable Player.
Freshman of the Year: Kimmie Hetrick; men had no freshmen
This decision was tough because there were two solid freshmen runners on the team who you could argue for this award, but looking at the stats throughout the 2017 cross country season, Kimmie Hetrick is deserving of this FOTY award. Hetrick finished in the top scoring five in all of her races this year and was a key factor in some races to help this impressive women’s team reach a third-place finish in the HCAC meet. This women’s team will stay strong and look to improve next year as they have the majority of the team returning.
Most Valuable Player: Dakota Frost (Men’s); Alexis Cash (Women’s)
Heading into the season, Kris Lyons was the number one runner on the team and the focal point to drive the men to a great season. Lyons went down with a season-ending injury at the beginning part of the season, leaving a huge role on the shoulders of sophomore, Dakota Frost. Frost took that pressure and made a heck of a year out of it. He set new personal records and kept this men’s team on the tracks where there was a bit of a worry on who would step up and lead this team. Frost ran his hardest in the last two races of the year at the HCAC conference meet and crossed the finish line at 7th place and earned All-Heartland Conference honors. Then, two weeks later at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship, Frost finished in 28th place out of 242 runners with a time of 26:13 and earned an All-Academic performance. Frost’s finish helped lead the men to a 22nd place team finish out of 36 teams, beating conference rival Manchester for the first time in school history. The men have a lot to look forward as they bring all of the team back while losing one senior to graduation.
After having a great year last year as a freshman, Alexis Cash did not have a sophomore slump! Coming out of the gates battling for the number one runner with Jennie Matteson, she continued to shine throughout the season and having the best race of her illustrious career at the HCAC meet. Cash had never won a race until that day, becoming the Beavers first women’s conference cross country champion in school history and breaking the women’s 6,000-meter school record with a time of 22:57. A couple of weeks later, Cash helped lead the women’s team to its best-ever finish at the regional meet, 19th out of 35 teams. Cash finished 61st in a field of 247 runners with a time of 26:56. With this placing, she secured Bluffton’s best women’s regional finish in school history. Cash also earned an All-Academic performance.
*In order to achieve All-Academic standing, one must finish in the top 25 percent of their competing field and have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or better*
Most Valuable Player: Mercedes Burns
Starting off the year with four women on the team, Burns finished as the lone woman golfer for the inaugural season. Burns deserves this award because she consistently improved throughout the year, where it would be tough being the only golfer on a team and no teammates to provide the competition needed to improve. It will be interesting to see how Coach Craig recruits and brings in new women golfers to build off of the inaugural year.