March 17, 2015

My Championship Experience -- 2015 Women's Basketball Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

Western Illinois senior Tori Niemann writes about her experience at the 2015 Summit League Women's Basketball Championship: 

What an atmosphere! The Summit League doesn’t get enough credit. Playing in the new Danny Sanford PREMIER Center was incredible. As a senior, it was really special to end my career in such a great basketball environment. The competition between all the teams this year made the season a lot of fun. There were no guaranteed wins or losses for any team and that carried over into the tournament. I’m going to miss playing, but I will also miss playing in The Summit League.

A little about our game day…

We played on Sunday, which was Daylight Savings and that was pretty rough! It’s always hard
to wake up when it’s still dark out. We had shoot around at 7:30 a.m. (which was actually 6:30 a.m.) and then went back to the hotel. Don’t worry, we napped. When we came down the elevator to leave for the game, all of our parents were waiting to send us off and wish us luck. Our parents and fans are awesome and have been so supportive over the years. Obviously, we’re a little further from Sioux Falls than SDSU or USD, so it was really neat to see so many purple shirts and familiar faces in the stands cheering us on.

We lost in the first round, which was really tough, but I read something the other day about what makes athletes special- and that’s the ability to fail more times than we succeed, but we always get back up and find a way to win. I’m so proud of my team and proud to be a Leatherneck! Oorah!


Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Women’s Golf Championship, April 20-22 and throughout the 2014-15 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

March 16, 2015

WIU Trio Named to Rainbow Wahine Classic All-Tournament Team

HONOLULU, Hawaii - Following the conclusion of the 2015 Rainbow Wahine Classic, Sammy MarshallTierney Bottino, and Kacyee Hart were named to the All-Tournament Team. Western Illinois had the most representatives on the team.

Marshall hit .500 over five games, stealing a pair of bases from the leadoff spot for Western. The senior also scored three runs and drove in another. Marshall led the tournament with seven hits.

Bottino hit .412 and capped her week off with a solo home run to left against St. Bonaventure on Saturday, the second home run of her career. The junior hit two doubles against Hawaii and also scored three runs during the week

Hart finished the weekend with a 1.11 ERA and a perfect 2-0 record. The junior recorded complete game victories over Hawai'i and Columbia. Hart finished the week with 17 strikeouts. Hart struck out seven batters against Hawai'i and Columbia, one shy of her single-game high. The righthander threw 19 innings, allowing five runs, three earned, on 12 hits.

Western Illinois finished the tournament 3-2 with victories over Hawai'i, St. Bonaventure, and Columbia. The Leathernecks three representatives were the most of any team.

March 11, 2015

Greysen Hertting's (USD) Season Ends at NCAA Zone Diving

IOWA CITY, Iowa—South Dakota sophomore Greysen Hertting completed her season on Tuesday at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships hosted by the University of Iowa. Hertting represented South Dakota at one of five diving meets that serve as a qualifier to the NCAA Championships.

The Appleton, Wis., native started off the competition with a 31st-place finish in the three-meter dive on Monday. She recorded a score of 263.35 points. Hertting returned Tuesday to take 48th in the one-meter with a score of 201.70 points. Hertting was the only qualifier in the region from the Summit League.

Texas sophomore Samantha Bromberg captured the top mark in the 3-meter dive with a score of 721.90 points. Bromberg had 359.35 points in the preliminary round. Minnesota’s Yu Zhuo had the top mark in the 1-meter competition with a score of 645.60 points, with 318.45 points from the preliminary round.

Hertting ends the 2014-15 swimming and diving season with Summit League Diving Championship MVP honors, 27 individual victories, a new school record in the three-meter dive and a trip to the NCAA Zone Diving Championships.

ORU's Estala Earns Spot at NCAA Indoor Championshps

TULSA, Okla.  – Sophomore pole vaulter Justin Estala received some good new Tuesday evening as he learned that he would get a spot in the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championship meet.
Estala’s season and personal best mark of 5.38m (17-7.75) ranked 20th in the nation this season, and the sophomore did not make the initial cut into the championship meet. Scratches by other pole vaulters opened the door for the 2015 Summit League Indoor Champion, who will compete at 6 p.m. Friday, March 13 in Fayetteville, Ark.

March 03, 2015

North Dakota State Pitcher Krista Menke has been named Madness Summit League Softball Player of the Week

North Dakota State Pitcher Krista Menke has been named Madness Summit League Softball Player of the Week for her exceptional performance during the past week’s action. College Sports Madness identifies the players who have made the greatest impact to their team from each conference and on a national basis each week. The college softball players who have achieved national honors for this past week were:
National Field Player of the Week: Michigan Outfielder Sierra Lawrence
National Pitcher of the Week: Florida Pitcher Delanie Gourley

You can see all the Players of the Week from each conference at Softball Weekly Awards.
College Sports Madness has additional Softball coverage updated each week.
3/2 Softball Top 25 Rankings – latest team rankings
3/2 Softball Bracketology Breakdown – Projected Tournament Bracket
College Sports Madness covers all aspects of college sports...from recruiting right up through the professional draft. Our preseason previews prepare fans for the upcoming season of their favorite teams and can then follow their team all the way through the post season. The Madness helps the college fan follow their favorite teams with our unique team pages that, in one place, brings together information about that school’s sports teams from the football squad to the women’s soccer team and everything in between.

Congratulations to these players selection to this exclusive list. We look forward to working with you to bring good college sports coverage to your fans and the entire college sports community.

February 25, 2015

Denver Rated No. 1 School to Play Women’s Soccer by USA TODAY

In a recent poll released by the USA TODAY, the University of Denver was rated as the top institution in the country to play women's college soccer. "The ranking of women's soccer teams is based on the athletic success of the team, the overall quality of the school and the academic success of the players," the USA TODAY stated in its release. Read more about the methodology of selections here.

"Our four year graduation rate has been through the roof and we have had a lot of success on the field, but more importantly, we've had some awesome young women and their families come through this program to make it what it is today," head coach Jeff Hooker said. "Our state of the art facilities along with administrative support have made this a great place for me to coach and teach these young adults."

Hooker will enter into his 24th campaign with the DU women's soccer program this fall, and boasts a 315-114-40 women's record, and a 335-126-44 record overall at the University (coached both the men's and women's team for two seasons). In his tenure, Hooker is a nine-time conference coach of the year, and has led the Pioneers to seven regular season and eight league tournament titles, while also making nine NCAA Division I Tournament appearances.

February 19, 2015

Ex-NDSU Shortstop Nicole Rivera Member of USA Women's Baseball Pan Am Qualifier Team

DURHAM, N.C.--Former North Dakota State University softball shortstop Nicole Rivera is a member of the 18-player USA Women's Baseball team that will be compete in the first-ever Pan American Games Qualifier for the sport on March 8-15 in La Vega, Dominican Republic.

Team USA will be vying to become one of four teams to qualify for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games scheduled for July 10-26. The Toronto Pan American games will be the first-ever multi-sport Games to host women's baseball.

Rivera, who started 225 career games for the Bison from 2008-11, was a two-time all-Summit League performer for North Dakota State including first team honors in 2010. She was a valuable member of three Summit League tournament championship teams including the 2009 unit that went on to win the NCAA Norman Regional and advance to the NCAA Tempe Super Regional.

Rivera, who is from Lakeside, Calif., finished her career with a .313 batting average, three home runs and 55 runs batted in. She ranks third all-time in stolen bases (95) and stolen base attempts (107); fifth in fielding assists (383) and double plays turned (31); eighth in at bats (726) and runs scored (147), and ninth in hits (147).

Featuring athletes from nine different states, the roster also includes 10 athletes from the 2014 USA Baseball Women's National Team.

If Team USA qualifies for the Pan American Games, the Women's National Team schedule will continue with National Team Trials, May 22 to 24, 2015. Thirty-six players have already been invited to participate in Trials following a multi-event selection process approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The final 18 players selected to represent the United States at the Pan American Games, should the U.S. qualify, will be selected out of those 36 individuals attending the National Team Trials.

For more information on the Women's National Team, please visit
The 18-player USA Baseball Women's Pan American Qualifying Team roster is as follows:
Name, Position, Hometown
Veronica Alvarez, C, Miami, Fla.*
Ryleigh Buck, IF/RHP, Wellington, Kan.
Samantha Cobb, OF/RHP, Garland, Texas*
Caitlin Everett, OF, Sunnyvale, Texas*
Alex Fulmer, RHP, Little Mountain, S.C.
Jade Gortarez, IF/RHP, Riverside, Calif.*
Tara Harbert, OF, Boulder, Colo.*
Tamara Holmes, OF, Albany, Calif.*
Lindsay Horwitz, RHP, Gurnee, Ill.*
Anna Kimbrell, C/RHP, Fort Mill, S.C.*
Jenna Marston, RHP/IF, St. Louis, Mo.*
Nicole Rivera, IF/RHP, Lakeside, Calif.
Michelle Snyder, IF/RHP, Wenatchee, Wash.*
Malaika Underwood, IF, San Diego, Calif.*
Meagan May Whitley, C, Spring, Texas
Kelsie Whitmore, OF/RHP, Temecula, Calif.*
Donna Williams, RHP/IF, Fremont, Calif.*
Codee Yeske, IF/RHP, Lexington, S.C.

USA Baseball Women's National Team alumni are denoted with an asterisk*

February 18, 2015


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Two IUPUI volleyball players who have been instrumental in helping the Jaguars claim three consecutive Summit League regular-season titles will get the opportunity to head to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to participate in the U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryouts.

Senior Beth Howard and junior Kaitlyn Hickey are two of 232 athletes from 90 universities participating in the tryouts Feb. 20-22 for spots on the U.S. Women's National Team, U.S. Collegiate National Teams program and U.S. Junior National Team.

Hickey is a three-time All-Summit League selection, and this past season she became the second player in program history to earn AVCA All-Region honors. That led to her becoming the first player in IUPUI history to be named an All-American after she was tabbed an AVCA Honorable-Mention All-American.

"For Beth and I to have this opportunity to represent IUPUI shows the strength of our program right now," Hickey said. "This weekend, my main goal is to improve as an individual and learn from these high profile Division-I athletes and Olympic coaches so that I can come back as a better player and compete for a fourthstraight conference championship next year."

Howard completed her four-year career this past fall and ranks third in school history in career digs. The two-time All-Summit League performer was named the Summit League Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and a senior, marking just the second time in league history that a player has won the award in consecutive years.

"This opportunity means a lot to me," Howard said. "I get the chance to prove myself against some of the best players from all across the country. I hope to gain more experience and exposure."

The tryouts begin at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 20, and live streaming of the tryouts can be accessed here.

"This is a great opportunity for Kaitlyn and Beth to show what they can do on the court against some of the best competition," head coach Steve Payne said. "They are two great players who have done a lot for our program. We see what they can do on a daily basis, and now it will be great for others around the country to see what they are capable of."

Three-time Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Olympic Hall of Famer Karch Kiraly and the U.S. Women's National Team staff will lead the tryout process. Selected athletes will be notified by early March and USA Volleyball will announce the selections by the end of March once all roster spots are confirmed.

February 17, 2015

IPFW's Spencer Set to Try out for USA National Team

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Emily Spencer, IPFW’s two-time Summit League Volleyball Player of the Year, will travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado Feb. 20-22 for the U.S. Women's National Team tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Spencer ended here four-year career with the Mastodons as an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Honorable Mention All-American, an AVCA North All-Region First Team selection, and the Summit League Player of the Year.

A Jenison, Michigan native, Spencer was the sixth player in Summit League history to earn multiple Player of the Year honors in her career after earning the award as a sophomore in 2012. In her final campaign with the team, Spencer tied for a league-high with two Offensive Player of the Week honors and finished her career with a school-record 54-match streak with double-digit kills. She became the second player in IPFW and Summit League history to record 2,000 career kills. Spencer is also one of eight Mastodons players with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for their career.

The tryout will evaluate approximately 238 athletes from 93 colleges from across the country for spots on the U.S. Women's National Team, the U.S. Collegiate National Team program and for the U.S. Women's Junior National Team for athletes born in 1996 or 1997.

U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff will direct the entire tryout process, which can be viewed with an online video stream. The tryout will involve four sessions with three waves per session. Friday's first session goes from 2-8 p.m. MT with Queen of the Court competitions, while Saturday's sessions are at 8 a.m. (focus on serve/receive and individual work) and 2 p.m. (middle-centered and out-of-system focus). The tryout concludes on Sunday at 8 a.m. with tournament style play, along with 16-18 athletes selected by the staff to participate in a "USA" training session. 

February 11, 2015

NDSU Adds Gooris to Bison Track & Field Coaching Staff

FARGO, N.D. – The North Dakota State University women's and men's track & field programs announced the hiring of former NCAA All-American Daniel Gooris as an assistant coach on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Gooris served as an assistant coach at Western Illinois University for the 2013-14 season and has been a volunteer assistant at Columbus State University in Georgia this year. In his brief coaching career, Gooris has directed athletes in the sprints, jumps, hurdles, pole vault, javelin and multi-events.

"We are excited to welcome Daniel and his wife Krista to the Bison family," said NDSU head women's track & field coachStevie Keller. "Daniel brings a great deal of knowledge and passion for the sport of track & field that will help the Bison become stronger at the conference, regional and national levels. His experience as a decathlete has been impressive and gives him the opportunity to coach a number of events." 29057

Gooris competed in college for the University of Northern Iowa, where he earned four All-America honors as one of the top multi-event athletes and pole vaulters in school history. He was a three-time All-American in the multi-events and a seven-time Missouri Valley Conference champion.

A native of Albuquerque, N.M., Gooris has been one of the top multi-event athletes in the U.S. in his post-collegiate career. He placed third in the heptathlon at the 2014 USATF Indoor Championships and eighth in the decathlon at the USATF Outdoor Championships in 2013. Gooris represented Team USA in the Thorpe Cup decathlon in 2013, earning a fourth-place finish.

"I am very excited to be a part of NDSU track & field," Gooris said. "The program has a history of excellence on and off the track, and I am proud to say I am now a Bison. My wife and I are looking forward to the move to Fargo and joining the NDSU family."

Gooris graduated from UNI in 2013 with a major in exercise science and a minor in psychology.

The NDSU women have won 14 straight Summit League team titles between the indoor and outdoor seasons, and the Bison men have won five straight outdoor team titles.