College notebook: Ross to call shots for Wittenberg defense
As a hard-hitting linebacker, Sean Ross was the leading tackler on the only football team from Waynesburg University to make the NCAA Division III playoffs.
This fall, Ross will be calling the defense for the winningest program in Division III.
Ross, a Bentworth graduate, has been named defensive coordinator for Wittenberg University. Ross has been on Wittenberg’s coaching staff since 2007 and was promoted to replace Andy Waddle, who left the Tigers to become head coach at Marietta.
“It was not a hard decision to make,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham told the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun. “Sean is a good leader. His guys play hard for him. They respect his work ethic.”
Ross, 31, had been Wittenberg’s linebackers coach and made the Tigers’ group among the best, not only in the North Coast Athletic Conference, but all of Division III. In 2009, Wittenberg had three linebackers make the All-NCAC first team as the Tigers led the nation in defense.
“I’m very excited. It’s a great opportunity,” Ross said. “I’m fortunate to be at a great school with a great program.”
Wittenberg has won more games than any program in Division III history. The Tigers have won five national championships, qualified for the Division III playoffs 15 times and had only one losing season since 1955. Wittenberg was 10-2 last season and advanced to the second round of the Division III playoffs.
A four-year letterman (2000-03) and a three-year starting linebacker at Waynesburg, Ross led the Yellow Jackets in tackles in 2003, when Waynesburg won the PAC championship and qualified for the national playoffs. Ross was a two-time all-conference selection. As a senior, he was team captain and team defensive MVP.
Ross started his coaching career at Waynesburg, then spent two years at Westminster before moving to Wittenberg.
Point Park senior guard Emily Schartner of Finleyville has been named to the All-Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team. One of the best perimeter scoring threats in the league, Schartner was 11th in the conference in scoring at 12.3 points per game and was second in three-pointers made. A Ringgold graduate, Schartner has 61 three-pointers on the season and is four shy of the Point Park single-season record.
Schartner helped Point Park (25-6) win the KIAC tournament championship by scoring 11 points in the Pioneers’ 67-58 victory over Asbury in the title game. Schartner made six of seven free throws against Asbury and is shooting 83 percent from the free-throw line on the season.
The conference title clinched an automatic berth for Point Park to the NAIA Division II national tournament that begins today in Sioux City, Iowa. The Pioneers will play third-ranked Indiana Wesleyan (30-3) in the first round Thursday night.
Millersville’s Eli Obade was rewarded for his record-setting season Tuesday when he was named the PSAC East Division Defensive Player of the Year and to the All-PSAC East first team.
A 6-9 senior from Charleroi, Obade set the Millersville single-season record with 72 blocked shots and led the PSAC in blocks, rebounds (11.2 per game) and double-doubles (13). He is currently fifth in NCAA Division II in rebounding.
Obade was Millersville’s third-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game and he shot 58 percent from the field for the Marauders (19-10). He is the first Millersville player since the 2007-08 season to be named first team All-PSAC East.
Shawn Johnson, a three-time Class AAA champion at last year’s WPIAL Track & Field meet, won individual and team titles last weekend at the National Junior College Athletic Association Championships in Lubbock, Texas.
Johnson, a freshman at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, won the national championship in the high jump by clearing 6-10¾. He was one of four competitors to clear the height but won based on fewer misses.
Johnson also finished fourth in the triple jump (48-11¾) and was 11th in the long jump (21-11). His performance helped the South Plains men win the team title.
Hans Lubich, a junior at Slippery Rock, placed third in the heptathlon at the PSAC Indoor Championships held at Edinboro. A Jefferson-Morgan graduate and former WPIAL Class AA champion in the high jump, Lubich scored 4,603 points in the seven-event competition. Lubich had the fastest time in the first event, the 60-meter dash (7.02), was second in the long jump (21-3 7/8 ) and was fourth in both the shot put (35-5½) and 60-meter hurdles (8.96).
His performance earned Lubich All-Region status.
Lubich finished ninth last spring in the decathlon at the PSAC Championships with 5,837 points and was runner-up in the heptathlon in the indoor season as a sophomore with 4,700 points.
Behind strong performances by four local swimmers, the Grove City women’s team captured its fifth consecutive Presidents’ Athletic Conference title by winning the team title at the James E. Longnecker Invitational/PAC Championships last month.
Senior Angelo Palumbo, a Washington native and Trinity graduate, earned the Invitational’s Swimmer of the Year award as well as the PAC Most Valuable Performer. She swept the sprint races during the three-day event.
Palumbo had victories in the 50 freestyle (23.85), 100 freestyle (51.66) and 200 freestyle (1:52.29), and contributed to Grove City wins in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays and and both medley relay races. In all seven events, Palumbo qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships that will be held March 20-23 in Houston, Texas. She is a 15-time All-American.
Grove City freshman Megan Bilko of Canonsburg won two events, the 1650-yard freestyle in conference and pool-record record time of 17:20.59, and the 500 freestyle in 7:43.83.
Sophomore Lauren Cassano of Venetia swept the backstroke events. She won the 100 backstoke in 58.36 and the 200 in 2:06.44. She also had a fifth-place finish in the 200 individual medley and contributed to Grove City wins in the 200 and 400 medley relays. The 200 medley relay team’s time of 1:46.13 set the Grove City pool record. The relay teams also qualified for the NCAA meet.
Kait Riesmeyer of McMurray swept the butterfly races, winning the 100 in 56.91 and the 200 in 2:06.43. She also competed on both medley relays and the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays squads.
Bilko, Cassano and Riesmeyer each will join Palumbo at nationals. Riesmeyer, an 11-time All-American, and Cassano each will compete in two individual events, and Bilko will swim in the 1,650.
In the men’s competition at the PAC Championships, Westminster sophomore Jake Pletz of Venetia helped the Titans win the team title. Pletz, who was named first team All-PAC for the second year in a row, won the 200 freestyle (1:42.04), was second in the 200 individual medley and was part of two relays victories, the 800 freestyle and the 400 medley, the latter setting the school record of 3:23.90.
Former Peters Township pitcher Tara Konopka got her first college win Sunday for Drexel. Konopka, a freshman, pitched 6 2/3 innings of relief in Drexel’s 6-5 victory over Western Carolina in Myrtle Beach, S.C. She allowed five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
Konopka earned a save Feb. 25 with two scoreless innings in the Dragon’s 4-3 victory over Marshall.
Marshall University junior Karli Timko defeated Old Dominion’s Nika Khmolovska, 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-4, in a three-plus hour match Sunday to give the Thundering Herd a 4-3 victory over the Monarchs.
In addition to the marathon match, Timko, a Chartiers-Houston graduate, also won in doubles competition to account for half of Marshall’s points in the team score.
“I’m proud of how Karli finished the match, battling through adversity and bouncing back time and again,” said Marshall coach John Mercer.
Marshall has a 6-5 record. Timko, playing No. 6 singles is 8-3 after having a 10-4 record in singles play during the fall season.
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