Archive for April 26, 2016

IUK COUGAR ATHLETICS HOSTS ANNUAL ‘CELEBRATION OF CHAMPIONS’ BANQUET

IU Kokomo senior student-athletes (class of 2016). Photo provided

IU Kokomo senior student-athletes (class of 2016). Photo provided

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - Indiana University Kokomo hosted its annual Celebration of Champions Banquet, honoring its student-athletes as the 2015-2016 campaign winds down. During the banquet, several awards were presented to recognize the hard work of the program’s top performers.

“This afternoon is truly about our student-athletes and their amazing achievements this year,” said IUK Athletic Director Greg Cooper. “All of the awards were voted on by the student-athletes.”

Awards were presented for work on the court, in the classroom and in the community. It was noted that five of the seven varsity teams finished the fall semester with a 3.15 grade point average or higher, three student-athletes had a GPA of 4.0, 37-percent had a GPA of 3.5 or higher and 42 had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The KIAC champion volleyball team earned the Chancellor’s Cup for having the highest team GPA.

BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Keeana Walton, volleyball

COMEBACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Dejianna Butler, women’s basketball

COMMUNITY CARE IMPACT AWARD

Women’s basketball team

COUGAR COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD

Diana Tenbrook of Solidarity Community FCU

COUGAR PRIDE SCHOLARSHIPS

Casey Colgate, volleyball

Christian Smith, men’s basketball

LEGACY AWARD

Jerome Campbell, men’s basketball

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

David Kelly, men’s basketball

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Lindi Thomas, volleyball

SENIOR STUDENT-ATHLETE RECOGNITION

(Volleyball) Rachel Allen, Cortney Hanson; (cross country) Amy McCauley, Javier Vasquez; (basketball) Jerome Campbell, David Kelly, Nick Teeter; (golf) Derek Glass, Kelsey Crabtree.

KOKOMO’S SHAWN FLANARY NAMED TOP BOYS TENNIS COACH IN STATE BY COACHES ASSOCIATION

Kokomo Schools board president Crystal Sanburn presents a proclamation to Shawn Flanary as KHS AD Jason Snyder looks on. (SJ Photo: Dean Hockney)

Kokomo Schools board president Crystal Sanburn presents a proclamation to Shawn Flanary as KHS AD Jason Snyder looks on. (SJ Photo: Dean Hockney)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - Last fall, the Kokomo Wildkat boys tennis team surprised the North Central Conference by traveling to Richmond and knocking off the then-undefeated Red Devils 3-2. The victory gave the Kats its 15th conference title while coach Shawn Flanary was named the NCC Coach of the Year. Three weeks later, Kokomo defeated Taylor 4-1 to claim its 25th sectional title overall and 11th under the guidance of Flanary.

For his efforts, Flanary was named the 2015 Indiana High School Tennis Coach of the Year by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association after previously earning the organizations District III Coach of the Year honors. District awards are determined by a vote of coaches in attendance at the spring and fall district meetings while the IHSTCA board of Directors selects the state winner.

“The KHS boys had a great season, and the coaches felt like our boys really carried themselves well from a sportsmanship standpoint,” said Flanary as he deflected the attention away from him and towards his student-athletes. “We also knocked off a couple of teams that some people thought we shouldn’t have. Our boys had a tenacious attitude. They weren’t willing to give up, and that goes a long way. You couldn’t ask for more than what our Kokomo High School student athletes gave us during the 2015 season.”

Wildkat Athletic Director Jason Snyder noted the Kats also have seven regional titles since Flanary took over the program in 2002.

“We are very excited for Coach Flanary, who has done an outstanding job for many years with Kokomo-area tennis,” said Snyder. “This is a well-deserved honor, specifically the outstanding performance of our team in 2015. Shawn was able to bring a group of guys together that really leaned on each other, supported each other, and made each other better as they became a team over the course of the season.”

WILDKAT CHASE PEARCE SIGNS TO PLAY BASEBALL AT OAKTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Chase Pearce on the Kokomo Municipal Stadium mound. (Photo by Slater Young)

Chase Pearce on the Kokomo Municipal Stadium mound. (Photo by Slater Young)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - Kokomo High School has a long tradition of producing pitchers ready for the next level. This year is no exception after right-hander Chase Pearce signed a letter of intent to play this fall at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois. Pearce said his summer squad, the Indiana Eagles, has close ties to Oakton and that helped influence his decision.

“They have sent a lot of players there, and Oakton was interested in me,” said Pearce. “I made a visit, liked the area, and one of my catchers will be there. And I liked Skokie, where one of the campuses is located. There is a lot to do, and it is close to Chicago. And I get to live with teammates, which is tight. My passion is baseball and that is what I love to do.”

“I love these types of days,” said Kokomo head coach Sean Swan. “It is a culmination of a lot of years of hard work on their part and their families part. Getting to see them take their dream to the next level and continue playing after high school is a neat thing. Chase has really willed himself into being a college baseball player. He decided early on he wanted to be a college baseball player, he knew it would take a lot of hard work and energy, and he did that.”

Pearce said as a pitcher, having the same catcher will help his transition.

“I think it’s key because I’ve had the same catcher throughout high school,” said Pearce, an all-conference performer a year ago. “For a guy to come up last year in the summer and make adjustments for me as a player; that’s just huge.”

Swan is thrilled to send another player to the next level and believes Pearce will find success at Oakton. He said Pearce, a Kokomo starter, is a gamer and wants to be on the hill every day and every pitch.

“I tip my cap to him because he has been one of the hardest workers in our program,” said Swan. “He’s kind of a bulldog. He’s going to go right at people. He’s going to try to get ahead early and then try to throw off-speed pitches to be effective. He wants the ball. If his arm is able to throw, he wants to be out there and take on any and all comers. That’s the type of kid you want on your team. He may succeed or he may get knocked around, but he’ll be back the next day just as hungry and an anxious to get back at it.”

Pearce led the Kats a year ago with 35 innings pitched. He was 2-2 in 10 appearances and threw a team-high 336 strikes with a respectable earned run average of 3.20. He finished 2015 with 20 strike outs against 16 walks. He cites a two-hitter against North Central Conference-rival Marion as a highlight last season.

“I think my strength is I am not afraid to throw any pitch at any time,” said Pearce, who is a member of the KHS Student Athlete Leadership Team. “I am the dude that will throw a full-count change-up, curveball or fastball; I don’t like being obvious.”

Pearce said he intends to transfer to a four-year institution after graduating from Oakton – hopefully to continue his baseball career. He plans on studying financial advising with a minor in political science.

The Owls are the defending Skyway Collegiate Conference champions, going 12-2 in league play a year ago. They also hosted the NJCAA Region IV Sectional tournament last season. They start the 2016 season ranked in the preseason top 25 poll of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II division.