Monday, November 25, 2013

Baseball Program up to $1,547 for Movember

Movember: Cliff Brown and Bill Smith 2013
Head coach Cliff Brown and former Harper baseball player Bill Smith are still sporting their moustaches.
PALATINE, Ill. – With just under a week remaining in the month of November, the Harper College baseball team has raised $1,547 for "Movember".

The mission of Movember, according to their website, is for men to grow moustaches for the month of November to raise funds and awareness to combat prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health challenges in men.

The baseball program has 27 members in its group, with Grant Meranus leading the charge at over $800 raised for the cause. The team's mission states that, "We strive to be not only great students and athletes but great people. We feel it is important to be involved in the community and promote mens health. All the while having fun doing it."

There are still six days remaining in the challenge. To view their team page and/or donate to the cause, click here.

Barajas Models Consistency for Hawks

Athlete of the Week: Juan Barajas 2013
PALATINE, Ill. – On the nation's top NJCAA Div. III men's cross country team in 2013, competition among teammates was at an all-time high on a team loaded with talent. With the incredible depth the Hawks possessed, any of the top eight runners could place as the No. 1 runner in the meets.

However, freshman Juan Barajas (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Schaumburg) stood out among the group. Barajas was a model of consistency for the Hawks in 2013, placing as the team's top runner in six of seven meets. The Region IV Runner of the Year and All-American can now call himself the 10th Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

Head coach Jim Macnider knew of Barajas's ability back in 2009 and 2010 when he coached Barajas as a freshman and sophomore at Schaumburg High School. Barajas made an immediate impact for Harper in his first collegiate meet, placing 29th in a time of 26:45 in his first career 8K race.

"He does what you tell him to, and it paid off," Macnider said. "He ran quite a bit over the summer, and that's obvious by how he started off the season."

He continued to be the Hawks' top guy throughout the season, finishing as Harper's top runner in the Illinois Intercollegiate, College of DuPage Invite, Benedictine Invite, Bradley Classic and Region IV Championship (PR time of 26:25). Many of these meets featured four-year universities.

Athlete of the Week: Juan Barajas File
At the national meet, Barajas got a side stitch with about two kilometers to go but still managed to take eighth place and earn All-American honors.

"I'm not sure if it was the hilliness or the travel. He still hung in there and probably would have been in the top five if that didn't happen," Macnider said. "He had a great season. He was our most consistent and reliable guy."

Barajas enjoyed the trip to nationals, where he and his teammates visited The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as well as four different states.

"We accomplished what we said we wanted to do in the beginning of the season, to become three-time national champions," he said.

Barajas is looking forward to the spring 2014 track and field season, when he will run the 5k and 10k races.

Becker Signs with Lewis University

Baseball: Becker Signs with Lewis University
Harper baseball player Kurt Becker recently signed with Div. II Lewis University. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – While sophomore baseball player Kurt Becker (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) still has one more year of baseball ahead of him at Harper College, he now has a home beyond the 2014 Hawks season. Becker recently signed an NCAA National Letter of Intent to continue his baseball career at Div. II Lewis University in Romeoville.

Becker, a Palatine High school grad, earned Second Team All-Region honors as a freshman in the spring of 2013, hitting .377 with two homers, 28 RBIs, and 14 doubles.

Lewis pitching coach Scott Sobkowiak first talked to the standout third baseman at the Oakton sophomore showcase over the summer. Sobkowiak liked Becker's swing and what he brought to the table in the field.

After back-and-forth conversation throughout the fall, Becker made a trip to Lewis' campus a few weeks ago and liked what he saw.

"He (Sobkowiak) just handed me off to the players to get a tour around campus. It was pretty cool because that means they really trust the players," Becker said. "They seemed like they were having a lot of fun there."

Becker then met head coach Tim McDonough on campus, who is in his seventh season in charge of the Flyers program. Last year under McDonough, the Flyers were 33-18 overall and set a program record with 23 conference wins. In 2012, the Flyers earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996, where they finished fifth.

"When I talked to him, his baseball philosophy seemed consistent with coach (Paul) Belo (Palatine coach) and Coach (Cliff) Brown of Harper," Becker said.

Becker, who plans on getting his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Mathematics Education Degree at Lewis, feels that with the pressure to find a four-year school to play at gone, he can really focus in on the upcoming spring season for the Hawks.

"I can focus on working towards our team goal to get to Tyler, Texas, and I think I could try to help other guys find a place to play at in the future because we have a lot of talented players."

Hawks Nab First Win of Season

Women's Basketball: Rachel Payne 2013-14
Payne scored a career-high 27 points to lift the Hawks to victory. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. – Rachel Payne (Wheeling, Ill./Schaumburg Christian Academy) scored a career-high 27 points to propel the Harper College women's basketball team to a 65-43 victory over McHenry County College on Thursday night. The win gave head coach Jenny Turpel her first career college coaching victory.

The Hawks (1-6) jumped out to a 35-16 halftime lead. Payne continued pouring it on in the second half and finished 10-of-18 from the floor while grabbing eight rebounds. Her previous career high was 23 points, on two separate occasions last season against Triton (Jan. 26) and Wright (Feb. 9).

Kelli Berglund (/Wheeling) scored 12 points and Monica Hinderer (Arlington Heights, Ill./The Willows Academy)chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds in the win.

The Hawks have the weekend off before hosting Elgin Community College on Tuesday at 5 PM. Elgin topped Harper 59-49 in the Hawks' season opener on Nov. 5.

Basketball Games Tonight to be Web-Streamed Live

Women's Basketball: Kelli Berglund 2013-14
The Harper women's and men's basketball games will be web-streamed live tonight. (Jim Cummins)
CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. – The Harper College women's and men's basketball games scheduled for tonight at McHenry County College will be web-streamed live. The live stream can be found at

The women's game will tip at 5:15 PM while the men will follow at 7:15 PM.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Game Preview: Harper vs. Morton

Men's Basketball: Coach Amarino 11-12
Head coach Tony Amarino and his team head to Morton tonight for a 7 PM game. (Jim Cummins)
CICERO, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team, coming off an 88-80 win over Moraine Valley last Thursday, will look to get their second win of the season tonight as they travel to Morton College for a 7 PM game.

Harper (1-3) had five players score in double-figures in the win over Moraine Valley while Morton (4-1) is coming off a 72-62 win over DuPage on Saturday.

Last Meeting

The Panthers topped the Hawks 84-63 on Nov. 20, 2012.

Amarino Back at Morton

Harper head coach Tony Amarino returns back to his old stomping grounds for this matchup. Amarino spent 15 years as the head coach at Morton, compiling a 263-226 record.

Key Players

Bradley Reibel (/Prospect) (13.5 PPG) and Kevin Sexton (/Prospect) (11.8 PPG, 5.8 APG) lead the Hawks in scoring through four games.

Kevin Walsh (/St. Viator) (10.0 PPG) is the team third-leading scorer and has scored 30 points in the team's last two games. Forward Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) is leading the team in rebounding at 6.0 RPG while Luke Potnick (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) (8.2 PPG) has provided a scoring boost off the bench for the Hawks.

The Panthers will lean heavily on freshman Nicholas Dixon (19.5 PPG) for scoring. Sophomore guards Kylan Anderson (14.0 PPG) and Jimmy Stamas (11.5 PPG) are also key pieces offensively for Morton.

Seven Hawks Net Postseason Honors

Women's Soccer: Postseason Awards 2013
Kruczek, Cosentino, and Zelek all earned First Team All-Conference and All-Region Honors. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – At last night's Harper College Fall Sports Banquet, seven Harper women's soccer players were recognized with postseason awards. Coach Dwayne Cruz's squad went 5-4 in 2013 and finished as the Region IV runner-up to DuPage.

Nicolette Kruczek (Wonder Lake, Ill./Woodstock North) was a First Team All-Conference and All-Region selection for the Hawks as well as Team MVP. Kruczek scored nine goals in just seven games, including a three-goal effort in the season opener against Milwaukee on Sept. 11. The forward also spent some time in goal when Cruz needed her.

Jessica Cosentino (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) and Jillian Zelek (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) also earned First Team All-Conference and All-Region honors. Cosentino scored three goals and had four assists on the year while Zelek tallied two goals and two assists in four games before a season-ending injury.

Stephanie Hurwitz (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Fremd)Sancha Ogden (Hanover Park, Ill./Hoffman Estates)Lacey Richards (Hobart, Ind./Merrillville) and Vanessa Salazar (/Proviso West) all earned Second Team All-Conference and All-Region honors. Hurwitz scored eight goals in nine games, including an incredible five-goal performance in the Region IV Semifinals against Triton on Oct. 15. Ogden was the backbone of the Harper defense while Richards helped guide the offense as a midfielder. Salazar netted two goals and had an assist in nine games.

"This was a really good group to be around," Cruz said at the banquet. "We had to battle through a lot of injuries, but the girls fought hard no matter how many we had out there. This was a great group of freshman, and I'm looking forward to having them back next year."
Women's Soccer: Postseason Awards 2013
Hurwitz, Richards, Ogden, and Salazar were all Second Team All-Conference and All-Region. (Jim Cummins)

Men's Soccer Recognizes Five Players

Men's Soccer: Postseason Awards 2013
Murphy (left) was named First Team All-Region while Vargas and Correa were named First Team All-Conference. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – At last night's Harper College Fall Sports Banquet, the Harper College men's soccer team recognized five of their players who received postseason awards, highlighted by forward Ryan Murphy(Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) being named First Team All-Region. Coach Jason Diebold's team went 3-9 in 2013 and lost a hard-fought 2-0 game at Triton on Oct. 23 to end the season.

Murphy was second on the team with six goals in 12 games and also had three assists. Midfielders Luis Vargas(Palatine, Ill./Palatine) and Starsky Correa (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) were named First Team All-Conference. Vargas tallied three assists in a game against Milwaukee on Sept. 11 while Correa helped guide the offense with a team-high four assists in 2013. Correa was also named Team MVP by his teammates.

Sophomore goalkeeper Sean Cox (Schaumburg, Ill./Conant) was named Second Team All-Conference for the Hawks. Cox started 10 of the team's 12 games this year. Defender Eric Ayala (Hanover Park, Ill./Bartlett) also earned Second Team All-Conference honors.

While the season did not go as planned in terms of wins of losses, Diebold liked what he saw from his group.

"We had 40 guys come out for the team, making our roster decisions tough," he said at the banquet. "The commitment from these guys was definitely there. We have a strong group of freshman coming back."
Men's Soccer: Postseason Awards 2013
Cox and Ayala were named Second Team All-Conference. (Jim Cummins)

Hawks Compete at Dan Gable Open

The Hawks boasted two individual champions at the Dan Gable Open over the weekend. (Jim Cummins)
OSHKOSH, Wis. – The Harper College wrestling team competed at the 11th Annual UW-Oshkosh Dan Gable Wrestling Open over the weekend. Two Hawks – Jacob Bellis (/Bloomington) (125 pounds) and Blake Santi(Roselle, Ill./Lake Park) (149 pounds) – were individual champions at the meet.

Bellis captured an individual title with a perfect 3-0 record on the day. He defeated Calumet College's Robert Chicvara by fall in 28 seconds to advance to the semifinals. In the semis, he bested North Dakota State's Tirso Lara 15-4. Bellis took down his own teammate Tanis Arcos by pin in the final.

Santi, who has moved up from 141 pounds to wrestle at 149 this year, went 3-0 on the day as well. He pinned UW-Oshkosh's Jerome Scott in the opening match and followed it up with a 7-0 victory over Calumet College's Andrew Kepchar in the semis. Santi earned a convincing 6-0 decision over North Dakota State's Alex Blaney in the final.

Other notable Harper wrestlers from the Dan Gable Wrestling Open:

Greshman Henderson (/Lake Zurich) (141 pounds)-Lost his first match but bounced back with three straight victories followed by a loss. He then defeated teammate Blake Tisza (/Thornton Fractional South) for fifth place.

Daniel Roach (/Portage) (141 pounds)-Lost his first match but earned two victories later in the day.

Messner Makes the Most of One Year

Athlete of the Week: Alex Messner 2013
PALATINE, Ill. – Sophomore volleyball player Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) has only known one sport for her entire life. After playing volleyball for the DePauw University Tigers in 2011 and then transferring to DePaul University for two quarters, Messner decided to come to Harper College to save money.

Harper volleyball coach Bob Vilsoet talked to Messner's younger sister, Arianna, who he coaches on his Sky High volleyball club team, about Alex playing for the Hawks. Messner took Vilsoet up on the offer and blossomed into a star for the Hawks in 2013.
Harper's top outside hitter who improved greatly and played her best in big matches, Messner can now call herself the ninth Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

Touted as Harper's best two-way player on the court this year by her head coach, Messner settled into the season and became a star with the full repertoire of skills - powerful outside hits, stellar defensive skills in reading the hitter and top-notch serve receiving ability. This was most reflected in wins and losses in the second half of the year, as the Hawks won 19 of their final 26 matches.

In postseason play, Messner was named to the Region IV Volleyball All-Tournament Team, where the Hawks defeated Triton and Rock Valley before losing a close five-set match to No. 1 Madison.

Against Rock Valley, she had a team-high 17 kills on 38 attack attempts for a team-high 34% hitting efficiency. She also played excellent defense with a team-high 17 digs.

"She truly came alive for this match against the defending national champions and led the team with her desire, hustle and clutch play over and over on offense and defense," Vilsoet said.
Athlete of the Week: Alex Messner File

Messner shouldered the load again in the showdown with Madison, leading the team with 14 kills on a season-high 53 hitting attempts. She once again demonstrated her versatility with 22 digs in the most crucial match of the year.
Vilsoet explained that as her teammates got to know her throughout the year, they realized her potential as both a player and leader.

"The setters found their way and set her more often, and as her teammates discovered her true ability, more and more she became more of a vocal leader."

Messner, who had 13 double-doubles in 2013, said she wasn't too disappointed with the postseason outcome.

"Those last two matches were so intense and exciting. They were definitely our best matches of the year," she said. "The friendships that I made with the girls are something that's really important to me."

Next month Messner will get her associate's degree and look to transfer to a school with a criminal justice major.  After that, she'd like to go to law school and one day become a prosecutor.

She said some smaller schools have reached out to her about playing volleyball, but she is leaving her options open.

While Messner will graduate, her sister Arianna is committed to the 2014 Harper team. Vilsoet is excited about having "someone else with Alex's volleyball genes to play at Harper for the next two years."

Vilsoet is also looking forward to seeing Alex in future alumni matches.

"Alex and her Howitzer arm will get to play on our future alumni teams. So hopefully we continue to see Alex playing volleyball in the future in our gym, even if only for these alumni matches and in the stands to watch her sister play."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Game Preview: Harper vs. Moraine Valley

Men's Basketball: Tyler Gaedele 2012
The Hawks look for their first win of the season tonight against Moraine Valley. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team is seeking their first win of the season as they host Moraine Valley in the Wellness and Sports Center tonight at 7 PM. The Hawks lost 93-78 to Illinois Central on Tuesday to fall to 0-3 while the Cyclones lost their only game of the season 109-64 to Kishwaukee College back on Nov. 2.

Last Meeting

The two teams last played on Nov. 13, 2012, a game won by the host Cyclones by the score of 95-85. Moraine Valley's Karrington Ward led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

The Hawks had four players in double figures, led by Garett Gatz (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Conant) with 22 points.Connor Miklasz (Mount Prospect, Ill./Hersey) had 16 points while Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) and John Lorenz (Elk Grove, Ill./Elk Grove) each had 14. The Hawks were hot from downtown, hitting 12-of-22 3-pointers on the night.

Key Players

A pair of Prospect High School grads – Bradley Reibel (/Prospect) (12.7 PPG) and Kevin Sexton (/Prospect) (11.7 PPG) – lead the Hawks in scoring through the Hawks' first three games.  Sophomores Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) (7.7 PPG) and Tyler Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows ) (5.0 PPG) will also be key parts of the Harper attack. Gaedele has struggled with his shot in the early going, but he was a marksman from deep last season, hitting 84 3-pointers.

Guard Luke Potnick (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) (9.0 PPG) and guard/forward Kevin Walsh (/St. Viator) (10.3 PPG) will also see heavy minutes. Walsh is coming off a 21-point performance on Tuesday against Illinois Central where he was 8-of-11 from the field.

For Moraine Valley, Johnte Shannon (19.0 PPG) and Kyle Ward (18.0 PPG) form a dynamic scoring duo.

Game Preview: Harper vs. Moraine Valley

Women's Basketball: Ashley Packard 2012
The Hawks look for their first win of the season tonight against Moraine Valley. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College women's basketball team is seeking their first victory of the season as they host Moraine Valley tonight at 5 PM. The Hawks lost to Illinois Central on Tuesday to fall to 0-3 on the season while the Cyclones beat Kennedy-King College 59-55 on Nov. 5 to improve to 2-1.

Last Meeting

Last season's matchup on Dec. 20 was cancelled due to inclement weather. The two teams last met on Nov. 15, 2011, a game won by Moraine Valley.

Key Players

Sophomore center Monica Hinderer (Arlington Heights, Ill./The Willows Academy) is averaging a double-double with 17.3 PPG and 12.7 RPG. Point guard Rachel Payne (Wheeling, Ill./Schaumburg Christian Academy) (12.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG) and guard Shante Hill (/Hoffman Estates) (12.0 PPG) are the Hawks' second and third scoring options. Kelli Berglund (/Wheeling) (6.0 PPG) will also provide a threat as a shooter.

For the Cyclones, Maggie Yandel is their go-to option, scoring 21.3 PPG, 11th best in the nation at the Div. II level. Samantha Holler (8.3 PPG) and Aileen Gorman (8.0 PPG) also pose threats on the offensive end while Jamilla Jones (8.0 RPG) leads the team in rebounding.

Hawks Unable to Slow Down Illinois Central

Men's Basketball: Michael Rose 2012
Michael Rose was one of three Hawks in double figures with 10 points. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team held a one-point lead at halftime over Illinois Central, but the Cougars surged ahead in the second half and picked up a 93-78 win over the Hawks in their home opener.

The Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 advantage in the early going but the Hawks (0-3) slowly clawed back in the game. Kevin Walsh (/St. Viator) provided a big boost off the bench in the first half, scoring 15 points. His basket with 6:50 to play in the half cut the deficit to 26-24.

The Hawks took their first lead of the game at 38-37 on a Tyler Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows )jumper with 1:47 to play in the half and led 42-41 at the break.

In the second half, the Cougars pushed the tempo in the early going, leading to many fast break points. Callen Boddie's layup off a steal put the visitors ahead 63-55 with 11:33 to play and forced Harper head coach Tony Amarino to call a timeout.

The timeout did not benefit the Hawks as the Cougars continued to push the pace and went on a 18-6 run to open up a 81-61 advantage with under six minutes to play, their largest lead of the game.

Harper got within 12 points at 83-71 with 3:31 remaining on a Kevin Sexton (/Prospect) layup, but the Cougars went on a 7-0 run capped off by a Devyn McGuire 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.

For the Hawks, Walsh led the team with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Sexton was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line and scored 14 points while Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) also scored in double figures with 10 points and a team-high five rebounds.

Harper Women Drop Home Opener to Illinois Central

Women's Basketball: Rachel Payne 2012
Harper point guard Rachel Payne had seven points on 3-of-5 shooting. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College women's basketball team ran into a strong Illinois Central team in their home opener on Tuesday night, falling 94-36 to the second-ranked (Div. II) Cougars.

In the early going, the Cougars led 4-0 before Monica Hinderer (Arlington Heights, Ill./The Willows Academy) got the Hawks (0-3) on the board with a layup. After that, Illinois Central clamped down on defense and went on a 29-2 run to open up a 33-4 lead with 7:12 to play in the first half. The Cougars took a 47-7 lead into the break.

The Hawks showed some signs of life in the second half. Hinderer scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the second half and added a team-high nine rebounds. Shante Hill (/Hoffman Estates) scored all 10 of her points after the break after being held scoreless in the first half.

Rachel Payne (Wheeling, Ill./Schaumburg Christian Academy) chipped in seven points for the Hawks. The Harper defense forced 17 Illinois Central turnovers.

Illinois Central had eight players score seven or more points, led by Gabby Williams' team-high 15 points.
Harper returns to action at home on Thursday against Moraine Valley Community College for a 5 PM time.

Harper Men Win Third Straight National Championship

Men's Cross Country: Nationals 2013
The Harper men captured their third straight national title. (Colin Weber)

NORTHFIELD, Mass. – The Harper men's cross country team placed four runners in the top ten on Saturday at the Northfield Mountain Recreation Center to win their third straight national title. The Hawks scored 45 points to top closest challengers Ocean County College (84 points) and third place Suny Delhi (117 points).

"We ran our normal race and moved up as we planned," said Harper head coach Jim Macnider. "I was impressed with the way the guys ran the races all season long."

Brennan Albuck (/Hoffman Estates), who steadily improved throughout the year, was Harper's top runner and finished in fourth place in a time of 28:02 on the hilly 8K course. Teammate Zach Stella (Palatine, Ill./Palatine)captured fifth place with a time of 28:07.

"Brennan stayed consistent and worked hard throughout the year," Macnider said. "In the beginning of the year, he wasn't in the top seven, but I knew he was good and would be in the top five before we were done."

Juan Barajas (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Schaumburg) crossed the finish line in 28:45 to take eighth place. Jhoan Lino (León, Guanajuato/Streamwood) rounded out the top 10 as he finished with a time of 28:50. Sebastian Ramirez (Lima, Peru/Palatine) rounded out the top five for the Hawks with a 21st place finish in 29:28.

Nick Modlin (Wheeling, Ill./Wheeling) and Andrew Guibord (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) also ran strong races, placing 30th (29:51) and 42nd (30:38) respectively.

"This whole group all season long has been pretty close. They were there for one another and supported each other," Macnider said. "They meshed really well, and we had an enjoyable time."

Harper Women Take Sixth at Nationals

Cross Country: Stephanie Chaires Nationals 2013
Stephanie Chaires was Harper's top runner in 23rd place at nationals. (Holyoke CC SID Nicky DiMarzio)

The Harper College women's cross country team took sixth place out of 12 teams at the NJCAA Championships on Saturday. The team scored 166 points to finish just ahead of seventh place team Howard Community College (172 points).

Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty) was Harper's top runner once again, finishing the challenging 5K course in 22:37 for a 23rd place out of 97 total runners. Marisa Andreuccetti (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Conant) was not far behind, capturing 31st place in a time of 23:19. Mary Piltaver (/Conant) took 37th place with a time of 23:37.

Lori Delfin (/Wheeling) and Gabby Beaupre (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) rounded out the top five with 49thplace (24:17) and 75th place (26:33) finishes. Cindia Salgado (Wheeling, Ill./Wheeling) finished the course in 27:18 for a 83rd place finish.

"I thought they all did really well," said Harper head coach Jim Macnider. "They got out together and were running together."

Ocean County College took top team honors, placing all five runners in the top-20 and totaling 65 points. Gloucester Community College placed second with 75 points while Suny Delhi was a close third with 78 points.

Women's Cross Country: Marisa Andreuccetti 2013
Marisa Andreuccetti came in 31st place. (Holyoke CC SID Nicky DiMarzio)

Chaires Invigorates Hawks in Second Half of Season

Athlete of the Week:
PALATINE, Ill. – Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay a young and talented college runner is that she has untapped potential. Those were the words used by Harper cross country coach Jim Macnider to describe Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty), the top runner for the women's team.

After missing most of the early part of the season due to injury, Chaires is peaking at the right time. Named Runner of the Year at the Div. III level after her performance in the Region IV meet this past Saturday, she can add another award to her list of accomplishments as the eighth Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

A First Team All-Region selection for the soccer team, Chaires ran for the track and field team in the spring. She ran a leg of the 4x800m relay team that won a national title, was a member of the 4x400m relay team that took fifth place and also captured fourth place individually in the 1500m.

Chaires ultimately decided to give up soccer for cross country because she says she's a better runner than soccer player. Despite missing the team's first three meets due to a foot injury, she has come on strong, placing as Harper's top runner in the last three meets.

"It was a little bit difficult coming back with only a little more than a month till nationals, but I knew with coach Macnider's training, I'd get back in no time," Chaires said. "Coach Macnider and Coach (Eric) Wallor are truly the best coaches I have ever had."

The Hawks run tomorrow morning at nationals in Northfield, Mass. Macnider credits Chaires for reenergizing the team.

"She should be our No. 1 runner at nationals, and I believe she can finish in the top 15," Macnider said. "Certainly this will give us a shot at finishing in the top five as a team."

Macnider also acknowledged the psychological boost she provides for the team.

 "She is very encouraging to her teammates, works very hard in practice and is a great example for them," he said.

Chaires believes her team has a shot at finishing in the top three considering the strides they've made throughout the year. The nutrition major and N4C Academic All-Conference athlete is hoping her running opens up doors for scholarships down the road.

"I love the sports program here at Harper," she said. "When I transfer, I hope to keep running. I am keeping my options open."

Wrestling Ready to Tackle 2013-14 Season

Sophomore Blake Santi is the leader of the Harper team this year and will wrestle at 149 pounds. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – After weeks of grueling practices on the mats and training in the weight room, the time has finally come for the Harper College wrestling team. The Hawks will begin to display their strength and skill in competition tomorrow as they travel to Dubuque, Iowa for the Loras Open to begin their 2013-14 season.

Coach Dan Loprieno has an outstanding track record in his 15 years as head coach of the Hawks, winning three national championships (2001, 2006, 2010) and finishing runner-up three times. In the 2012-13 season, the Hawks took 10th place at the NJCAA Nationals. Josh Tardy (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) captured a national title at 149 pounds while teammate Steven Dewitt (Sterling, Ill./Sterling) finished sixth at 157 pounds.

Tardy and DeWitt have departed, but Loprieno is confident in this year's squad after what he described as a down year in the 2012-13 season.

"We had one of our better recruiting classes in the last few years with several state place winners," Loprieno said. "A lot of what we do in the fall is to just get them ready for the grind of a college wrestling season."

Loprieno explained that the fall helps prepare the younger guys for seven minute matches when they were used to wrestling six minute matches in high school.  He is also confident in his group of sophomores led by Blake Santi (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park)Mike Romanelli (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) and David Hughes (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown).

In the first month of the season, the Hawks also compete at the Dan Gable Open at UW-Oshkosh, Coe College Invite, Parkside Open and Art Kraft Memorial Open. Their home schedule opens on Dec. 19 with a Waubonsee Dual, and the calendar year closes out with the Midland Wrestling Championships at Northwestern University Dec. 29-30.

Following winter break, the Hawks wrestle at the National Duals (Jan. 11-12) and the Al Hanke Invitational (Jan. 18).

Harper then competes in home meets on back-to-back weekends on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 with the Harper College Wrestling Invitational and Harper Open.

The Hawks wrestle at the Central District Championship at Triton on Feb. 16. NJCAA Nationals run from  Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at North Idaho College.

"With the combination of the great recruiting class and the guys we have coming back, it looks to be like a successful year," Lopreno said. "I expect us to be in the top five or six every year at nationals."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hawks Ready to Tip Off 2013-14 Season

Men's Basketball: Tyler Gaedele 2012
The Hawks begin their season tonight at College of Lake County. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – With seven returners and a solid group of newcomers, the Harper basketball program will look to get started on the right foot as they open their season tonight at 7 PM at College of Lake County.

Head coach Tony Amarino's squad went 13-17 last year, but he and his players are confident that won't be the norm for the Hawks.

"We have the potential to go really far," said sophomore guard Tyler Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows ), who averaged 12.0 PPG and knocked down a team-high 84 3-pointers last year. 

"With the group of returners and new guys coming in, our team goal is to definitely win conference and go to nationals."

Gaedele, forward Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) (12.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG as freshman) and guard/forward Charles Wright (Cheyenne, Wyo./Cheyenne East) (8.5 PPG as freshman) are the top returners scorers for the Hawks while forward Eric Porter (Arlington Heights, Ill./Lake Zurich) and center Stefan Vucicevic(Arlington Heights, Ill./Hersey) return for their second seasons. Harper also gets a boost to its frontcourt with 6-foot-9 center Will Botefuhr (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect), who missed last season with an injury. Keven Zelaya(/Elk Grove) also returns for his sophomore season after playing for the Hawks in the 2010-11 season.

The Hawks are deep at the guard position with sharpshooter Luke Potnick (/Buffalo Grove)Kevin Sexton (/Prospect)Kyle White (/De La Salle)Kameron Hill (/Wheeling) andMichael Boyd (/Lake Zurich) all ready to contribute.

Bradley Reibel (/Prospect) and Kevin Walsh (/St. Viator) provide versatility for Harper while forward Dexter Henley (/Thornton Township) provides more size in the frontcourt.

"I'm excited about our group. I think our players can really play the game," Amarino said. "We have the potential to be a really good basketball team. I'm looking forward to us meshing more as a team."

The Hawks finished fifth in the N4C last year with a 6-8 mark. While Joliet (13-1) and Triton (12-2) were atop the conference in the 2012-13 season, Gaedele and his teammates will prepare hard for every game.

"I see every team as big competition. You don't know who they have, who they brought in or who they're returning," he said.

In the first five weeks of the season, the Hawks play eleven non-conference games and the Highland Tournament (Dec. 13-14). The conference slate tips off with a road duel at Joliet on Jan. 8.

"Our conference will be strong again, but we shouldn't overlook our nonconference schedule," Amarino said. "South Suburban is very good, Illinois Central is solid and we'll play three solid teams at the Highland Tournament."

Fresh Start for Hawks under Turpel

PALATINE, Ill. – After enduring two straight losing seasons, the Harper College women's basketball program appears primed for a bounce-back season after going 9-14 last year. Jenny Turpel, who served as a Harper assistant for two years, takes over as the head coach and makes her coaching debut tonight as the Hawks travel to Elgin Community College for their season opener at 5 PM.

"It feels good, I'm definitely excited. I think I've got a solid group of girls this year," Turpel said.

That solid group starts with sophomore center Monica Hinderer (Arlington Heights, Ill./The Willows Academy), a Second Team All-Conference player in the 2012-13 season who led the Hawks in scoring (19.9 PPG) and rebounding (11.5 RPG). Hinderer and sophomore guards Rachel Payne (Wheeling, Ill./Schaumburg Christian Academy) and Ashley Packard (Wheeling, Ill./Buffalo Grove ) are the three returners for the Hawks.

Turpel is looking forward to Payne embracing her role as a scorer and Packard stepping up as a spot-up shooter.  She also acknowledged the importance of Hinderer to the team's success.

"She's (Monica) a great athlete, huge competitor and great leader," Turpel said. "We're looking to improve her game a bit more so she can become that much more of a threat."

Hinderer said coach Turpel has emphasized fundamentals and conditioning in the first month of practice. She likes what she sees from her new teammates, who she described as "solid passers, solid shooters and players who are interchangeable."

Turpel has nine first-year players this year who are good ball handlers and athletes. She acknowledged that they'll have to keep working to make the transition from the high school game to a more fast-paced college game. She also brought in Todd Zasadil, a talented recruiter and basketball mind, to be her assistant coach and bring a fresh intensity to the program.

Women's Basketball: Monica Hinderer 2012
Harper sophomore center Monica Hinderer returns for her sophomore season. (Jim Cummins)
Harper opens its home slate next Tuesday (Nov. 12) against Illinois Central College. The Hawks play 11 non-conference games and a tournament (Kennedy King Tournament Dec. 6-7) in the first two months of the season before beginning N4C play on the road at Joliet on Jan. 8.

The N4C figures to be a strong conference once again this year, highlighted by defending national champ Rock Valley, who went 32-2 last year with an unblemished 13-0 conference mark. DuPage also looks to be strong once again after an 11-2 conference record last year, and Madison and Joliet also finished with records above .500 in the conference.  

The Hawks were 5-9 in the N4C last year. That mark is something Turpel would like to improve this year.

"We'd love to beat Rock Valley this year," Turpel said. "With the other teams last year, we hung with them for a while but got gassed out at the end. I just want to keep bettering the program."

Hinderer likes the direction her coach is taking the team and is aiming high with her goals.

"I definitely think we can have a winning season and get to regionals. We just need to take it game-by-game."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hawks Nearly Knock off No. 1 Madison in Region IV Final

Volleyball: Team 2013
The Hawks beat defending national champ Rock Valley before falling in a five-set thriller to No. 1 Madison. (Jim Cummins)
Box Score 1 | Box Score 2

ROCKFORD, Ill. – The fifth-ranked Harper College volleyball team knocked off defending national champ Rock Valley (25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20) in the Region IV Semifinals on Saturday morning to set up a title match with No. 1 Madison. The Hawks took the WolfPack to a fifth set, and the match was tied at 10-10 before Harper lost 15-12. The scores of the match were 25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 20-25 and 12-15.

Harper's season ends with a 31-21 record. Three Harper players – outside hitter Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd), libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) and middle hitter Veronica Dabrowski(Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) – made the NJCAA Div. III Region IV All-Tournament team for their efforts.

Harper vs. Rock Valley-Region IV Semifinals

Messner had a season-high 17 kills to go with 17 digs in the four-set victory over the defending national champ Golden Eagles on their home court. She also showed her versatility with four big blocks. Setter Lindsey Murphy(Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) added to her nation-leading assist total with 35 assists and added 10 digs to record another double-double.

In the service game, Murphy was a perfect 25-for-25 with three aces while Dabrowski was 17-for-19 with three aces of her own. Defensively, Spychala was all over the court with 27 digs while freshman Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) contributed 16 digs.

"We played very well against the defending national champions and deserved the chance to play against the No. 1 team in the nation," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet.

The victory was the Hawks' third consecutive win over the Golden Eagles after losing the home opener to them in four sets back on Aug. 27.

Harper vs. No. 1 Madison-Region IV Finals
With a berth to the NJCAA National Championship on the line, both teams played their hearts out in an excellent five-set match.

The Hawks took the first set 25-18, but the WolfPack rebounded with a 25-15 win in the second set.

Harper claimed the third set with a 25-23 victory to take a 2-1 advantage in the match and inch closer to a bid to nationals. Madison once again showed its resiliency, bouncing back with a 25-20 win to set up the deciding fifth set.

In that fifth set, the WolfPack (31-3) found a way to beat the Hawks and win their 18th straight match.

"Both teams deserved to win this match. We were at 10-10 in game five, and we were playing well. Either team could have won this match," Vilsoet said.

Messner once again led the Hawks with a 14 kills coupled with 22 digs. Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft) played a strong match, putting down 14 kills while tallying 16 digs. Murphy once again provided a steady presence in the setting game, handing out 36 assists while adding 22 digs.

On the defensive end, Dabrowski had four blocks while Spychala recorded a season-high 38 digs.