L to R: Nikki Gotschall, Molly Atkeson, Hailee Harmon, Amy Schmitz,
Paige Gaughenbaugh, Claire Everitt, Marie Sitz
The O'Neill Eagle golf team picked up another team title in the fledgling season by winning the Ainsworth Invite. After hoisting the Eagle Invite trophy, the team competed in a scramble in Atkinson before coming to Ainsworth. O'Neill played their top three golfers in the scramble and tied with West Holt's three for 2nd.
At Ainsworth, the Eagles were just one of three teams, but they finished 86 strokes in front to earn their second team trophy. Individually, it seems that the top area golfers have been defined, as the same three girls that led in O'Neill finished as the top three in Ainsworth. West Holt's Mackenzie Hale won the individual medal by five strokes with an 85, while Stephanie Sorensen of Plainview and Hailee Harmon finished 2-3. O'Neill placed four in the top ten, with Amy Schmitz (6th), Paige Gaughenbaugh (7th) and Molly Atkeson (10th) leading the varsity. Freshman Nikki Gotschall continued a strong start to her career with a 14th place finish as a JV golfer. West Holt also continues to impress, with their three golfers placing 1st (Hale), 4th, (Paige Mitchell) and 9th (Courteney Hostert).
Check out the full results in the Pinnacle Bank Scoreboard. The next action for our area teams will be at the Atkinson-Stuart Country Club with the West Holt Invite on September 4th.
O'Neill put together a 33 stroke win over runner-up Battle Creek to seal up their second straight win on their home course. The Lady Eagles have had much recent success in the O'Neill Invite, with back-to-back wins following a runner-up finish in 2012. It was a good start for O'Neill, who brought back four members from their state-qualifying and 4th place Class C team last year.
The individual title came down to the wire during regular 18-hole play as it was, and when the back nine was completed two golfers were sent to hole one for a playoff. Two returning state qualifiers, Plainview's Stephanie Sorensen and West Holt's Mackenzie Hale, battled in the sudden-death playoff. Sorensen won the playoff by two strokes, aided by a drive that went straight down the fairway and a chip that landed a couple of feet from the pin.
Stephanie Sorensen golfed an almost perfect hole in the playoff to earn the individual title.
West Holt and O'Neill rounded out the rest of the top five individuals. Lady Husky Paige Mitchell finished 4th, sandwiched by Hailee Harmon and Paige Gaughenbaugh in the top five. Breanna Attema of Pierce, another superb golfer returning from a 2013 State Golf appearance, placed sixth with the last score under 100. O'Neill's Amy Schmitz and West Holt's Courteney Hostert gave the Eagles and Huskies three medalists apiece. The Huskies actually medaled every golfer they had entered, as they only have those three girls.
This meet was not only the first of the golf season, but the first of the NSAA fall sports season. Softball is the other sport that began today, with the other three sports that involve area teams to follow in the coming week. To see the complete results from the O'Neill Invite, go to the Pinnacle Bank Scoreboard.
Cross Country has been around since the 1800s, but it’s unclear when people started running on golf courses. Your local Sports Guy theorizes that someone who was terrible at golf but liked running was trying to find their ball after yet another bad shot, and decided that it was a pretty nice environment to run in. However it actually happened, local golf courses will become the haven for high school runners beginning on September 4th this year. The sport shares its opening day with volleyball, becoming the final fall sports to get their seasons underway.
Cross Country is not offered by several schools in the area, but most have a program. Almost all of the KBRX area schools fall into Class D, which is a pretty diverse class because not every school offers it, but many small schools do. O’Neill finally got lucky with the classifications, as the OHS/SMH co-op was able to avoid Class B, and is the fourth biggest school in Class C. They are joined by folks on the fringes of our coverage area such as Pierce, Boone Central and Ord. Every other school KBRX covers is in Class D, with Ainsworth and Stuart being the biggest and smallest in the class, respectively. Overall, 104 schools are in Class D this year.
Don't call them Johnson: The Johnston twins could rule the Mid-State this year.
O’Neill brings back a solid pair of runners in the Johnston twins, who led the Eagles last year as sophomores. Grant earned an 11th place medal at State last year, and Blake finished with a pretty solid 38th place finish himself. They return as some of the top runners in the Mid-State, with most of the other conference state qualifiers graduating last year. Alejandra Vergara-Kersenbrock just missed the medals last year with an 18th place finish, but returns as a senior with quite a few accolades in her XC and track career. Unfortunately for her (and many other runners), Class C returns almost all of the girls’ medal winners from last year, and a bevy of talented girls in the Mid-State. The OHS girls’ team will be small but veteran, made up of seniors and juniors. One girl to keep an eye on is Ord’s Katherine Lansman, who was almost untouchable last year in the track season, but will move up a class after winning Class D last year. She is joined by Zoe Ritz, who was 22nd as a freshman.
2014 could be a promising year for the area Class D teams. Individually, three male runners return after State medal finishes last year: seniors Zach Welch of Ainsworth (2nd) and Osmond’s Cameron Moes (7th), and junior Colin Erickson from North Central (10th). CWC will bring back a pair of seniors that like to run together in former medalist John Walnofer and Shay Weber, who finished in the top 25% at State. West Holt’s Connor McDermott also placed 43rd out of 147 runners as a sophomore last year, and will lead a solid Husky team. Individually for the girls of Class D, Crofton will bring back a trio of seniors who placed last year. West Holt, like O’Neill, has their own dynamic duo in identical twins Jayden and Alyssa Reiman. Jayden medaled 14th as a freshman while Alyssa was only a minute behind, finishing 44th in the state.
They aren't going anywhere: West Holt made State last year with a team of underclassmen.
In the context of teams, Crofton swept State last year, so they are expected to continue their dynasty this year. West Holt generated some excitement last year by qualifying both boys and girls teams, and have an encouraging group returning. Sophomore Emma Laible joins the Reiman twins to give the Lady Huskies a very young core group from a team that placed 9th last year, and all six boys return from the 14th place 2013 Huskies team. Luke Welborn, Tony Bohnet and Lukas Laible will all be looking to leave an impact as seniors this year. Another young team that made school history last year is Neligh-Oakdale. Two seniors and three sophomores return from the Lady Warriors squad that placed 17th in the school’s first girls’ appearance at State XC. They are led by 10th graders Claudia Orozco and Jayda Chance, who had strong showings in both cross country and track last year.
Finally, there are several relatively new things to note for the 2014 season. Last year was the first year that the girls’ course was extended to 5,000 meters, and it will stay that way this year. Previously it was 4,000 meters, but it was changed last year to be the same length as the boys’ course. The other big change last year was that Class D was separated into six districts instead of five. District assignments for Class D will be released on September 1st. Both of those rules changes will remain this year. District XC competitions will be on Thursday, October 16 with State Cross Country held on Friday, Oct. 24 at the Kearney Country Club.
The Eagles won the program's first district title last year with a 9-3 win over Pierce.
Fresh off their first district championship and second State Tournament appearance, the Eagle softball team will look to continue building their program this year. Known for their summer program, O’Neill has had fairly good success with its NSAA counterpart, which is in its eighth year. Although the Eagles didn’t win a game at State, the trip to Hastings was well earned with a year that saw them go 20-9. O'Neill may have to battle a bit of inexperience, as six longtime starters and contributors graduated last year. However, plenty of talent remains on the Eagle roster.
The annual drama for O’Neill softball is not necessarily the play on the field (which has been pretty exciting, of course) but the yearly classification. The Eagles have been in Class C twice (last year and 2007), which have been the years when they have qualified for State. In the between times, O’Neill has been classified in Class B. While they haven’t qualified for State in B, they have had a winning record every year, and have generally competed well. Usually they are right on the edge of the B/C line, and this year is no exception. The Eagles fell on the Class B side this year as the second smallest team in the class. Familiar foe Wisner-Pilger is the smallest team in B this year. Wisner will host the B-4 district, which will feature powerhouse Blair. O’Neill seems to be the team best equipped to challenge Blair in the district, as the Eagles and Bears are the only two teams that had winning records last year.
The Eagles will see many of their usual opponents, although there are a few changes to the softball landscape in Northeast Nebraska. Lutheran High Northeast struggled to field a full team last year, so Norfolk High accepted LHNE and Norfolk Catholic into their program in Class A. Madison is joining with Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family this year, adding Lindsay into that co-op. Newman Grove will also join Boone Central in softball, after being with them in other sports previously. The Mid-State Conference will feature five teams that offer softball: O’Neill, Wayne, Pierce, Boone Central and Guardian Angels CC.
The first day of softball is Thursday, August 21, but the Eagles will wait until Saturday to play their first games, traveling to the always tough York Quad. The conference tournament will be Saturday, October 4 at Wayne. Districts are October 9 and 10 in Wisner, with the three-day State Tournament in Hastings starting Wednesday, October 15.
Lincoln – Fresh off the first AVCA rankings, the Big Ten Conference released its preseason volleyball poll on Thursday afternoon and Nebraska’s 2014 squad was picked second by the league’s coaches. Senior Mary Pollmiller and sophomore Kadie Rolfzen were named to the 15-member preseason All-Big Ten team, with Rolfzen an unanimous selection.
The 2014 season marks Nebraska’s fourth season as a member of the Big Ten Conference and the Huskers have finished no lower than second in each of their first three years, including a conference title in 2011.
Two-time defending Big Ten champion Penn State was picked to finish first in the conference, while the top five was rounded out by No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 Illinois and No. 5 Purdue.
Nebraska finished the 2013 season second in the Big Ten with a 16-4 league record, while then senior Kelsey Robinson was named player of the year. Pollmiller and Rolfzen each earned All-Big honors last season and the Huskers also return honorable-mention All-American Meghan Haggerty.
Rolfzen was one of six players in the conference to earn unanimous preseason honors, she was joined by Illinois’ Jocelynn Birks, Michigan State’s Kori Moster, Penn State’s Micha Hancock, Purdue’s Val Nichol and Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini.
2014 Big Ten Preseason Poll
1. Penn State
6. Michigan State
9. Ohio State
Four of O'Neill's State Qualifying golf team return in 2014, as Davita Dick (middle)
was the only senior on the varsity in 2013.
Girls’ Golf is one of the first NSAA sports to start off the new year, teeing off on Thursday, August 21. It shares that distinction with softball. State Golf is October 13 & 14, with sites in Norfolk, Lincoln and Columbus.
There are just a few girls’ golf teams in the KBRX area. O’Neill, West Holt, Elkhorn Valley, Plainview and Ainsworth are the schools within earshot that offer fall golf. Boone Central, Crofton, Battle Creek and Pierce are some of the others that are on the edge of our area as well. This year O’Neill didn’t have much luck in any of the classifications, as they bumped up to Class B this year after finishing as the 4th place team in Class C last year. Not only did they bump up, but they are the smallest team in Class B. Wayne and Crofton are some familiar opponents that will be two of the biggest Class C teams. Elkhorn Valley will be the third smallest team in C.
Mackenzie Hale is a returning State Qualifier from West Holt.
O’Neill was the only team to make State last year, but several individuals who did well last year will be returning. Senior Stephanie Sorensen of Plainview tied for 16th at State in 2013, while O’Neill’s Hailee Harmon was just two spots back as a sophomore. Mackenzie Hale of West Holt is also a returning State Qualifier, and will lead the Huskies in 2014 as a senior. Although O’Neill moves up to Class B, they do return four of their top five golfers, and will be very junior-heavy. Another team that all of the area golf teams will see a lot is Pierce, who brings back four pretty good golfers from last year's eighth place team and could be fairly tough this fall.
A former O’Neill Eagle has come out on top of a Nebraska PGA event.
Kyle Schellpeper shot the low round at the National Car Rental Nebraska Assistants Championship on Monday. Schellpeper notched a 76 on Sunday, and improved with a 73 on Monday for a three stroke win. The rounds were played at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club in Lincoln.
Besides a check of $1,150, the win qualifies Kyle for the national competition in a couple of months. The 38th National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship will be at Wanamaker Golf Course in Port St. Lucie, Florida from October 30 through November 2. The competition is for assistant golf pros and is run by the PGA of America. Schellpeper works as a PGA apprentice at Oak Hills in Omaha, and has competed in around a dozen tournaments this year, mostly in Nebraska. He has not missed a cut.
The Nebraska volleyball team came in at No. 7 in the preseason AVCA Coaches’ poll, released on Monday. The Huskers return all but one starter from last year’s team, which finished with a 26-7 record, a trip to the NCAA Regional Final and a No. 7 final ranking.
The preseason poll had a Big Ten flare, as seven conference teams earned a spot in the top 25, while Michigan was receiving votes. Six of the top 12 teams in the preseason poll were from the Big Ten Conference. Defending national champion Penn State was picked first, followed by Texas, Stanford, Washington and USC. Wisconsin, the 2013 national runner-up, came in one spot ahead of Nebraska at No. 6, while Purdue was ranked eighth. BYU and Florida, respectively, rounded out the top 10.
With the release of the first 2014 weekly poll, the Huskers have now been ranked in each of the AVCA’s 462 all-time polls, dating back to 1982. Nebraska has been ranked in the top 10 in 418 of those 462 polls, the highest total of any team in the country.
Nebraska’s ranking will be put to the test throughout this season. The Huskers will face a ranked opponent in 13 of their 29 matches this season, including six matchups with top-10 opponents. NU will face the top three teams in the preseason poll a total of four times, beginning with a contest against No. 3 Stanford in the second game of the season at the Devaney Center on Sunday, Aug. 31.
The Huskers open their season on Friday, Aug. 29, against 13th-ranked Florida State Seminoles. The back-to-back matchups with FSU and Stanford are part of the AVCA Showcase at the Devaney Center.
Creighton also made an appearance, being tabbed at #23 in the preseason poll. The Bluejays, who return three starters from their 23-9 team, open against Lipscomb in the Kansas Invitational on Aug. 29.
Also, limited number of single-match tickets for Nebraska’s 2014 home volleyball matches will go on sale to the public beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Tickets can be purchased on Huskers.com, but fans are advised that availability is limited and some tickets may be standing-room only. Tickets for the Huskers’ Red-White scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 23 are on sale now. Tickets for the scrimmage are available for $10 (reserved) or $8 (standing-room only).