August 24, 2016 by lmorgan · Comments Off
By Dennis Morgan
ELGIN — Having reached the district finals the last three years, Elgin Public-Pope John has established itself as one of the best volleyball programs in northeast Nebraska. This year, with a change in classification, the roadmap for the Wolfpack’s postseason aspirations will take a different direction.
Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher said the team’s classification may have changed, but the Wolfpack remain focused on reaching the state tournament.
“Well, I was a little bummed going to D-1 because the NSAA went to substates this year in C-2 so was excited to be a part of that,” Thiele-Blecher said last week. “But we’re excited, looking at our schedule we play a lot of D-1 teams which is only fair since we used the schedule from when we were separate teams and both D-2. We have made some adjustments obviously the last couple of seasons; so now our schedule will only really help us prepare for the post season.
“It is nice going into the season, knowing that Crofton is not in our district; however we have some tough teams in our subs with North Central and Clearwater/Orchard. And in the district is Lutheran High, which has had a great volleyball program the last couple of years, and Randolph. Just because we went “down” to D-1, isn’t going to make it any easier. We are going to have to work hard each practice and game and prepare for the post season.”
Last season the Wolfpack posted a 25-7 record, their season coming to an end in the district finals falling in the fifth game to Crofton. Gone from last year’s team are Jenna Parks, Nicole Beckman, Jill Schindler and Terri Seier, each playing a vital role in the success of last year’s team. Yet, looking at this year’s squad, Thiele-Blecher knows there is plenty of talent coming back.
Five starters return from last year’s team, led by All-NVC First Team selection Elizabeth Selting. Last year Selting led the Wolfpack with 303 kills and should finish her career, barring injury, with a host of individual records. Second Team All-NVC selections Baylee Wemhoff and Jordan Mescher will make their mark. Wemhoff last season had 288 set assists, three off the team high set by Parks. Mescher led the Wolfpack in serve receive one year ago with 471 and digs with 248.
Amy Nelson provided EPPJ with strong play as a blocker with 52 solo blocks. The other returning starter is junior Paige Meis. As an outside hitter, Meis had 83 kills one year ago. Both Nelson and Meis should post bigger numbers this year.
The core of the Wolfpack team has plenty of experience, but there are a number of other players who’s contributions will be vital to the success of this year’s team. They are setters Nicki Payne and Ally Wemhoff, attacker Grace Henn and back row specialist Calli Krebs.
“We have a great bunch of hard-working, fun-having girls,” Thiele-Blecher said. “Being in the district finals the last three years, they want even more this year!”
Describing her team as being very athletic, Thiele-Blecher said the team hustles very, very well. “I don’t see too many balls dropping on our court.” One concern the coach does have going into the season involves height. “We are a little short,” she said. “We’re looking to replace some good leadership due to graduation. We aren’t a real vocal group, I’m having to tell them to talk and communicate a lot.”
The Niobrara Valley Conference remains very competitive. Thiele-Blecher said Stuart, North Central, St. Mary’s and CWC are the teams to beat.
The Wolfpack will open the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 1, on the road, at Stuart.
Professional sports have their pre-season games.
This year, so too, the Wolfpack varsity volleyball team who will compete in a “jamboree” triangular leading up to the start of the regular season.
The volleyball jamboree will be held Monday, August 29th beginning at 6 p.m. at Elkhorn Valley (Tilden).
The schedule will be as follows:
Laurel-Concord-Coleridge vs. Elkhorn Valley
Elgin Public-Pope John vs. Laurel-Concord-Coleridge
Elkhorn Valley vs. Elgin Public-Pope John
This jamboree will take place of the scrimmage and parent meeting that is normally held.
The following are a few things to note about the jamboree:
• This will be for varsity only.
• The games will be two sets only to 25.
• These games do not count toward our record or NSAA wild card points.
• Cost for the jamboree games will be $5 for adults and $4 for students. No passes will be accepted. All proceeds go to the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.
August 24, 2016 by lmorgan · Comments Off
By Dennis Morgan
ELGIN — Victories came easy for the Wolfpack last season, posting an 8-3 record. Then, 10 seniors led the way as EPPJ made a run deep into the state playoffs.
On Friday night a new season begins, with new Friday night heroes waiting to bask in the glory of cheering fans.
Coach Randy Eisenhauer faces a big challenge and one of the toughest schedules in all of Class D-1 as the Wolfpack seek to remain among the elite high school programs in the state.
“After losing 10 seniors off of last year’s team we have a lot of positions to fill,” he said last week. “The kids have been working hard to improve throughout the summer and the first two weeks of football practice.”
The Wolfpack return just two starters from last year’s team. Senior Chad Bode is the lone backfield starter from a team which racked up 3,555 yards rushing last season. Bode, at 6’1” and 190 pounds, will be the featured back this season. Last year he averaged five yards per carry as he rushed for 315 yards on just 63 carries. Those numbers are sure to increase this season.
“He’s working really hard,” Eisenhauer said about Bode.
A running back is only as good as the blockers in front of him. Teammate Miles Schrage is the only other returning starter, anchoring the offensive line. At 207 pounds on a 5’10” frame, Schrage’s experience will be crucial up front. Eisenhauer said senior Liam Heithoff saw plenty of action last year and easily steps in as a starter. Another senior, Brody Hupp (6’4” and 220 pounds) will likely fill the other spot at center. This marks the first year for Hupp to play for the Wolfpack.
“With two returning starters we will have to have a lot of kids step up in the program and be a key asset to what we do. Bode will be our workhorse throughout the year as he has been starting the last two years for us.”
Another player on offense who has big shoes to fill will be sophomore Hunter Reestman who will play quarterback. Reestman saw limited action last season backing up Seth Schumacher, completing two of two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
“Hunter came in and did some real good things for us last year,” Eisenhauer said. “He does a good job of seeing the whole field. He’s very smart about the game of football.”
Last year the Wolfpack averaged 42 points per game on offense and surrendered 24 points per game.
On defense, linebacker Bode is the top returning tackler. Last season he was third on the team in tackles with 97, Schrage had 40 from his defensive end position including two quarterback sacks.
Heithoff will anchor the other defensive end position and look for Carter Schindler and Nick Iburg to see action in the line also. Aside from Bode, other linebackers will be Reestman, Ken Bush and Hayes Miller. Kyle Schumacher will see action at safety as will Cameron Nielsen.
Eisenhauer said work ethic remains one of the team’s strength, but depth and physicality are concerns heading into the season.
This year’s Wolfpack team is made up of five seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and six freshmen.
When Reestman goes to the air, expect to see split end Kenny Bush, as well as running backs Hayes Miller, Kyle Schumacher and Cameron Nielsen.
“We are going to have to be a sound football team with not a lot of mistakes and turnovers,” Eisenhauer said about the keys to producing a winning season.
The first four weeks of the season can be described in one word: brutal. Opening with Burwell followed by High Plains, Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing and Clearwater/Orchard, all four of those teams reached the semi-finals or finals in the state playoffs in their classes last season. “We’re going to need to start very strong,” Eisenhauer said. “Hopefully, we’ll learn a lot of things … We want to go out and make a name for ourselves right away.”
Looking at the district race, Eisenhauer pegged Neligh/Oakdale and Howells-Dodge (new to the Wolfpack schedule this year along with Clarkson/Leigh) as pre-season favorites.
“We want to be able to compete in all our games and get better each week,” Eisenhauer said.
Assisting Eisenhauer as coaches this year are Michael Becker, Tyler Reestman and Ben Spiegel. Student managers are Cade Heithoff, Luke Henn and Logan Henn. Doing statistics will be Andrew Heithoff, Jesse Schindler and Trent Ostransky. ©The Elgin Review
By Marie Meis
The 2016-2017 school year marks the return of Pope John foreign exchange student, Wenting Yu. It’s rare for an exchange student to return to the same school for a second year, but Wenting is excited to be back after a summer of traveling to places like Australia with her family. Last year, she spent the year with Paul and Diane Dicke but this year she is staying with Steve and Becky Kerkman.
There are multiple reasons for Wenting’s return, but she says she just really likes Pope John. When asked to describe the school she said, “Fantastic, that’s a new word I just learned!” This year will be a lot easier of a transition than last year, as she said the different language was hard at first.
Wenting has made quite an impact in the school, as she went out for many school activities such as one act, speech, musical and choir. She was recognized by all the judges in Pope John’s one act competitions, which was quite a feat. She also received 5th place at district speech for her poetry piece written by Doctor Suess.
Not only is Wenting excited to come back, but Pope John is excited to have her back. She has achieved a lot academically and in extracurriculars.
As she said, “Pope John is a nice choice for a school.”
The Elgin Swimming Pool may have closed for the season Sunday afternoon, but there’s still one more opportunity to make a big splash in its’ light blue waters.
“The Last Splash” for the pool before it is torn down and replaced with a new pool, will be held Saturday, August 20.
There will be free swimming at the pool from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. During that time, drawings will be held for prizes for those splashing in the water.
Free will donations will be accepted with all proceeds going to the pool fund.
The festivities won’t end at 9 p.m. Instead, they will shift over to the adjacent tennis courts where children and adults alike will be treated to an outdoor movie. People are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs to get comfortable in as they enjoy the movie “Zootopia.”According to Pool Manager Sue Vanis, snacks will be provided for a movie night under the stars. No alcohol is permitted at the movie, she said. In case of inclement weather, the movie will be shown in the Elgin Public School gymnasium. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. with the movie to start at 8 p.m.
District #41 State Senator Kate Sullivan received one of the highest awards from the Nebraska Press Association during a presentation Saturday night at the Wheeler County Fair.
With Governor Pete Ricketts assisting, 2015/16 NPA President Dennis Morgan presented Senator Sullivan with the 2016 President’s Award prior to the start of the rodeo.
“From time to time, the Nebraska Press Association selects an individual or organization to receive the President’s Award which demonstrates protection of the First Amendment/Free Speech; and open meetings and open records laws to make sure citizens have a direct pathway to participation in government,” Morgan said. “She has steadfastly fought for transparency in government and has always defended the First Amendment.”
For the past eight years, Senator Sullivan, from Cedar Rapids, has served in the legislature, most recently serving on the education committee.
Ricketts praised Sullivan for her service to Nebraskans.
“I had the honor and privilege of working with Senator Sullivan this past year on property tax bill LB959 and I can tell you it was absolutely a pleasure to be able to work with her. She is somebody who is incredibly intelligent, passionate about Nebraska, worked with grace and dignity through some very tough negotiations … She has done a wonderful job of representing you in the Nebraska Legislature.”
After accepting the award, Senator Sullivan shared some thoughts. “The First Amendment has always been important to me. This award is very meaningful,” she said.
“This also gives me a chance to say farewell as your state senator. This is probably the last county fair in District #41 that I will be attending as a state senator. I assure you it won’t be the last time I come to the Wheeler County Fair,” she said.
“It has been such a pleasure and an honor to serve all of you. I hope I have served you with dignity and certainly respect for all of you hard-working citizens in District #41 … This will always be home to me, I grew up about 25 miles from here. It’s still my home, it’s still in my heart and there is nothing better than the people from Nebraska and the heart of the Sandhills. Thank you very much!”