Athletes both seasoned and new to the collegiate scene contributed to a successful Hope College fall sports season.
Conference championship performances in women's cross country, men's golf and women's soccer brought Hope closer to a milestone in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). Hope's men's and women's teams have now won 199 conference championships over its 78-year affiliation with the nation's oldest collegiate conference.
The championship in men's golf was Hope's fifth in six years under coach Bob Ebels. The title in women's soccer was the first for coach Leigh Sears. And the crown for coach Mark Northuis' women's cross country team ended the domination of a rival.
Three Hope athletes were selected the MIAA's most valuable. Two seniors culminated outstanding collegiate careers while a first-year player made an immediate impact. Tina Pike led the league's female cross country runners en route to an opportunity to run at the NCAA Division III nationals while Dawn Gillam achieved all-league honors a third consecutive year as the Flying Dutch repeated as soccer champions. Freshman Tommy Yamaoka continued a tradition of excellence in men's golf.
Through the fall sports season, Hope leads the MIAA Commissioner's Cup standings which is presented to the conference member with the best cumulative performance in the 18 MIAA- sponsored sports. Hope is bidding to win the Commissioner's Cup an MIAA-record 27th time.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
The Flying Dutch captured their first MIAA championship since 1989, ending a string of 14 consecutive titles by rival Calvin. At the league championship meet five Hope runners finished in the top eight.
Senior Tina Pike of Rochester, Minn. received the league's most valuable runner award, finishing first at the conference meet. She went on to finish fourth at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional meet and was 36th at the national championships.
Six runners achieved All-MIAA first team distinction led by Pike who was honored a third consecutive year. Others on the first team were sophomore Leslie Tableman of Lansing, Mich. freshman Anne Hoekstra of Kalamazoo, Mich., junior Heather Kamps of North Muskegon, Mich., freshman Charlotte Meeker of Traverse City, Mich., and sophomore Ashley Dean of Cadillac, Mich.
Senior Katrina Alvesteffer of Whitehall, Mich. received All-MIAA second team honors.
The Flying Dutchmen won the MIAA championship for the fifth time in six years. Freshman Tommy Yamaoka of Zeeland, Mich. captured conference medalist and most valuable player honors marking the seventh straight year that a Hope golfer has led the league.
This year's accomplishment came none too easy. Trailing frontrunner Tri-State the entire fall by as many as 21 strokes, the Flying Dutchmen were able to close the gap in the final league tournament to finish on top of the seasonal standings by a mere two strokes. It was the close finish in league history.
Yamaoka and freshman Matt Lapham of Brighton, Mich. received All-MIAA first team honors. Seniors Justin Spyker of Portage, Mich. and Ryan Shedd of Coldwater, Mich. achieved All-MIAA second team honors.
Senior Dawn Gillam of Portage, Mich. was voted the MIAA's most valuable player. A midfielder, Gillam played an instrumental role in leading the Dutch to a second consecutive conference championship, a 13-5-2 overall record and a berth in the NCAA playoffs.
The Flying Dutch bowed to eventual national champion Wheaton, Ill. in the second round of the playoffs.
Gillam was joined on the All-MIAA first by sophomore teammates Rachael Sauerman of Naperville, Ill. and Holly Nestle of Mason, Mich. Gillam was a three-time first team honoree while Sauerman and Nestle were honored for a second time.
Players named to the All-MIAA second team included freshman Ellie Tresslar of Bloomington, Ind. and senior Stephanie Bylsma of Hudsonville, Mich.
The Flying Dutchmen posted a 6-4 record and tied for second place in the MIAA.
Senior Phil Morse of Dearborn Heights was presented the league's Pete Schmidt Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award.
Senior defensive back Andy Snyder of Berrien Springs, Mich. was chosen a first-team honoree for the second consecutive year. He was joined on the first team by senior wide receiver Jack Schrock of Clarksville, Mich. and senior defensive lineman Bryan Scheffers of Portage, Mich.
Second team honorees included junior offensive tackle Josh DeHaan of Fremont, Mich., senior linebacker Paul Hoeksema of Grand Rapids, Mich., junior defensive back Joe Diekevers of Jenison, Mich, senior punter Seth Kovarik of Traverse City, Mich., and junior placekicker Nate Barnett of Goodrich, Mich.
Snyder was also honored by being invited to join other outstanding Division III football players to represent the United States against the Mexican National Team in the Aztec Bowl. Snyder had an outstanding senior season leading the team in tackles. He intercepted six passes, blocked two punts, returning one for a touchdown, and ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns, one a school-record 90 yards. He became the fifth Hope player invited to play in the Aztec Bowl. Coaching this year's U.S. team for an eighth consecutive year was Hope alumnus Ron Schipper.
Schrock ranked among the nation's Division III leaders with a school-record average of 26.1 yards per reception. He had 14 touchdown receptions on just 40 catches.
The Flying Dutchmen finished second in an MIAA race that went down to the final game of the season. Back-to-back 1-0 losses on the road to rivals Kalamazoo and Calvin spoiled Hope's bid to repeat as conference champions. The Flying Dutchmen played eleven one-goal games en route to a 15-5 overall record and 12-2 conference mark.
Nine games ended in a 1-0 score with Hope winning five. One of them, a 1-0 victory at Alma, marked the 200th triumph under coach Steve Smith. In 15 seasons, Smith has guided the Flying Dutchmen to an outstanding 207-71-19 record, including six MIAA championships. He entered the 2004 season ranked 17th by winning percentage among NCAA Division III coaches.
Eight Hope players were voted to the All-MIAA men's soccer teams. Juniors Devin McNeil of Lansing, Mich. and Geoff Meyers of Grand Rapids, Mich. were voted to the first team.
Six players achieved All-MIAA second team distinction -- junior Karter Klingenberg of Holland, Mich., senior Tyler Basler of Auburn, Mich., junior Bryan Johnson of Portage, Mich., freshman Dan Tresslar of Bloomington, Ind., senior Todd Chappa of Portage, Mich., and junior Kevin Butterfield of Zanesville, Ohio.
Under first-year coach Becky Schmidt 'xx, the Flying Dutch posted a 19-14 record and finished fourth in the MIAA standings. Season highlights included winning the Wheaton Invitational and finishing second at the Midwest Invitational.
Junior Julie VanderSlice of New Era, Mich. was voted to the All-MIAA volleyball second team. An outside hitter, VanderSlice was among the league leaders in kills.
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
The Flying Dutchmen finished third in the conference standings and seventh at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Junior Tyson Warner of Portage, Mich. achieved All-MIAA first team designation. Receiving All-MIAA second team honors were junior Matt Casillas of East Grand Rapids, Mich., sophomore Aaron Kenemer of Zeeland, Mich., senior Kyle Morrison of Niles, Mich., sophomore Ryan TerLouw of Pella, Iowa, and junior Jeff Weber of Grandville, Mich.
The Flying Dutch finished seventh in the MIAA standings. Sophomore Holly Sneller of Holland, Mich. achieved All-MIAA second team honors for the second consecutive year.