posted March 28, 2012

2011-12 Winter Sports Season in Review

Hope sports fans had plenty to cheer about this past winter season as athletes accomplished on a number of fronts.

The tradition of excellence in basketball continued for both the men’s and women’s teams, which combined for an impressive 49-7 record. The women’s and men’s swimming/diving teams topped MIAA schools in the number of qualifiers to the NCAA Division III championships.

The combined successes keeps Hope atop the standings of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Commissioner’s Cup race, an award given to the member school with the best cumulative finish across the 18 league-sponsored sports. Through the winter season, the six sports for men have each finished second or higher in the MIAA standings while the women's teams have been first or second in five of six sports.  Hope is seeking to win the honor a record 12th consecutive year.

Men’s Basketball

The Flying Dutchmen repeated as MIAA champions, at one point in the season had a 23-game winning streak, and qualified for the NCAA championships for a seventh consecutive year. Eleven times during the season the Flying Dutchmen played in a sold-out DeVos Fieldhouse. A season highlight was defeating rival Calvin three times

Senior guard David Krombeen of Grandville, Mich., was named a Division III first-team All-American and the MIAA’s most valuable player. Joining him as All-MIAA honorees were junior Nate Snuggerud of Zeeland, Mich., and senior Peter Bunn of Lansing, Mich. Coach Matt Neil ’82, who has guided the Flying Dutchmen to a 50-9 record in two seasons, was named the Great Lakes Region Coach-of-the-Year and was nominated for the John McLendon National Coach of the Year award, which is presented to the outstanding head basketball coach encompassing all collegiate levels.

Women’s Basketball

For a ninth consecutive year, the Flying Dutch posted a 20-win season. Coach Brian Morehouse ’93 in 16 seasons has guided the Flying Dutch to a 397-67 record, which ranks among the best in all of NCAA Division III.

Three team members were presented all-conference honors by coaches in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). Honored were junior Liz Ellis of East Grand Rapids, Mich., junior Courtney Kust of Cincinnati, Ohio, and senior Maddie Burnett of  Grand Rapids, Mich. Ellis for the second consecutive year was voted the MIAA's defensive player of the year.

Swimming/Diving

Hope's swimming and diving teams, coached by John Patnott, each finished second at the MIAA championships, combining to win the gold medal in 18 events.

Ten athletes were named to the All-MIAA teams. Junior Libby Westrate of Grandville, Mich., was named the women's most valuable swimmer. She was a triple winner at the MIAA championships, capturing the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle races.

Seniors Sarah Sohn of Arlington Heights, Ill., and Jeff Shade of Davison, Mich., were each named All-MIAA for a fourth consecutive year. Other honorees were junior Josh Grabijas of Howell, Mich., senior Matt Gregory of St. Joseph, Mich., junior Nick Hazekamp of Janesville, Wis., sophomore Maria Kieft of Spring Lake, Mich., senior Andrew Rose of Holland, Mich., junior Kyleigh Sheldon of Hastings, Mich., and senior Chelsea Wiese of Rochester, Mich.

Outstanding accomplishment in both athletics and in the classroom was highlighted at the NCAA championships, when Chelsea Wiese (pictured) was presented the Elite 89 award for maintaining the highest cumulative grade point average among all of the competitors at the Division III swimming and diving championships. The Elite 89 award is presented to the top scholar-athlete at each of the 89 NCAA championships held over the year. An accounting major, Wiese has maintained a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Co-captain of the team, she was the MIAA champion in the 200- and 400-yard individual medley events.

Hope had three honorable mention All-America performances at nationals -- Libby Westrate in the 50-free; Josh Grabijas in the 1,650-free; and the women’s 800-free relay of Libby Westrate, Sarah Sohn, Chelsea Wiese and junior Erin Holstad of Traverse City, Mich.

 Hockey

For the 11th consecutive year, the Flying Dutchmen qualified for the national tournament of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. Coached by Chris VanTimmeren ’97, the Flying Dutchmen were 1-1-1 at nationals and finished the season with a 26-7-1 record. Seniors Chris Kunnen of Des Moines, Iowa, and Dave Nowicki of Littleton, Colo., were named ACHA All-Americans.