July 31, 2014

Top 10 Stories of 2013-14 - #9 Seven Greyhounds Named All-Americans

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College continues its look back at the 2013-14 athletic campaign with Top 10 Stories from the past year including the No. 9 story – seven Greyhounds earn All-America honors.

Moravian had seven student-athletes achieve a total of 11 All-America accolades in 2013-14 with senior Kristopher Joint earning three honors in track & field. Senior Katie O'Rourke was named to a pair of All-America teams after the women's basketball season while junior Matt Hanson earned spots on two baseball All-America squads. Seniors track & field thrower Timothy Lorah and baseball pitcher Chris Soltys, junior softball first baseman Jenn Dalickas and sophomore pole vaulter Ryan Karnopp rounded out the Greyhounds' All-America honorees.

Joint entered 2013-14 after competing at the NCAA Division III National Championships the prior year, earning All-America honors indoors in the long jump. He started the indoor season strong at the Lehigh University Fast Times Before Finals last December, posting triple jump a mark of 14.82 meters (48 feet, 7.5 inches), the second best jump in school history. He hit the same distance again at the 22nd Annual John Covert Class at Lehigh in January and the Princeton University Invitational in February as he remained second in the nation in the event.

At the Landmark Championships on March 1, Joint won the titles in both the long jump and triple jump, and he moved into the top 10 in the country in the long jump with a mark of 7.17 meters (23 feet, 6.25 inches). The following week at the ECAC Championships, Joint won the triple jump title with a school-record leap of 15.09 meters (49 feet, 6.25 inches), becoming the first jumper in school history to surpass 15 meters.

On March 14 and 15, Joint competed at the 2014 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships at the Bob Devaney Sports Center at the University of Nebraska, and showed why he was one of the top jumpers in Division III this past season. In the long jump, Joint was in the first flight and had to wait to see if he made the finals. He did, and for the second straight year he placed sixth in the event with a mark of 7.01 meters (23 feet) on this second attempt of the finals earning All-America honors.

"My feelings on being named an All- American are not only great because in track and field that is the highest achievement to can accomplish but it means so much more," stated Joint. "All of my sweat and tears are a part of every All- American that I have gained in my career at Moravian. For those that didn't believe there it is."

The next day, Joint was looking for his first All-America jump in the triple jump, what he considered to be his best event. He began the competition with a mark of 14.62 meters (47 feet, 11.75 inches), and his second jump would be his best of the meet at 14.80 meters (48 feet, 6.75 inches). That mark would make Joint the runner-up in the competition and earn him another All-America trophy.

"It is much harder than it looks," Joint said of competing in two events at Nationals. "Having to be so focused for not just one event but two and winning one previously just took me back to last year's indoor nationals and how I didn't want to experience the same feeling having won my first All-American the first in the long jump and coming back the next day a little cockier in the triple jump. There is a lot of self-motivation in it, I just reminded myself why I am here and I am a man that does not like to waste his time. Three times in a year is just a blessing. For me, the long jump has to be the hardest one to get because there are more long jumper than triple jumpers and the triple jump came a little more naturally to me."

When his outdoor season started three weeks later, Joint didn't let up. He opened the Muhlenberg College Invitation by going over 15 meters outdoors for the first time in his career with a mark of 15.10 meters (49 feet, 6.5 inches) in the triple jump, a distance that had him first in the nation for most of the spring. Joint also put himself in the top five in the long jump at the same event with a mark of 7.13 meters (23 feet, 4.75 inches).

As he did indoors, Joint remained consistent for the outdoor season. When the Landmark Championships rolled around on May 3 & 4, Joint captured both the long jump and triple jump titles to earn his second Landmark Field Athlete of the Year award of 2014. Two weeks later, Joint was the ECAC Outdoor Champion in the triple jump as he geared up for his second straight trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Joint's outdoor meet didn't fare as well as indoors as he opened with a 16th place finish in the long jump at Ohio Wesleyan University. Two days later, when he stepped on the runway for the triple jump, Joint was ready to show why he was first in the nation heading into the meet. He three preliminary round jumps were all over 14.63 meters, and his best mark of 14.79 meters (48 feet, 6.25 meters) came on the first attempt of the finals and it would earn Joint a third-place finish in the meet.

"Of the three honors this year, they all share a special moment in my heart," Joint commented. "The long jump indoor was the hardest to get so that's special in its own way. The triple jump indoor was my first and Moravian College's first triple jump All- American and my triple jump outdoor gave me my first outdoor All-American which was important for me to do. I had to end it on a good note and I think i did just that. So they are all special in their own way."

O'Rourke helped the women's basketball squad to a 20-8 record this past winter that saw the Greyhounds nationally-ranked for a portion of the season and earn berths in the Landmark Conference Tournament Championship game and the first round of the 2014 NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.

"Playing in the NCAA Tournament is the accomplishment that I am most proud of from my time at Moravian," O'Rourke explained. "As a team, our improvement can be seen from year to year. It was a great experience on and off the court for our team. Ending my senior year in any other way would have been a huge disappointment."

O'Rourke was selected as a Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division III Honorable Mention All-America and Women's DIII News Honorable Mention All-America to go along with spots on the Landmark All-Conference First Team and the D3hoops.com All-Mid-Atlantic Region Third Team. O'Rourke also shined off the court and was honored as the Landmark Conference Senior Scholar-Athlete for women's basketball as she combined her academics and athletics.

"It's a huge honor being recognized with some really talented players from our region," commented O'Rourke. "For me it was very unexpected, but made an already great season even better."

She averaged 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest to go with 103 assists versus 91 turnovers in a team-leading 814 minutes of action. During the season, O'Rourke reach 1,000 career points and finished her career as the only player in school history to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals with 1,019 points, 561 rebounds, 355 assists and 202 steals in 109 career games.

O'Rourke and Joint were named Moravian's Senior Athletes of the Year, and O'Rourke was also honored as the Lehigh Valley Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Outstanding Athlete in women's basketball and was also Moravian's LVAIAW Outstanding Athlete.

Hanson helped the baseball squad put together one of the most impressive seasons in school history this past spring as the Greyhounds won a school-record 32 games as part of a 32-12 campaign, earned the program's first-ever national ranking, were the top seed in the Landmark Conference Tournament and also received the top seed in the 2014 NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Regional at PNC Field in Moosic, Pennsylvania.

Hanson's list of postseason accolades is long and led by earning a spot on the D3baseball.com All-America Second Team and the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-America Third Team. He was also the D3baseball.com Mid-Atlantic Region, ECAC Division III South and Landmark Conference Player of the Year while also garnering positions on the D3baseball.com and ABCA/Rawlings All-Mid-Atlantic Region First Teams, the Landmark All-Conference First Team and the ECAC South All-Star First Team.

"It means a great deal to me," Hanson said of being an All-American. "Coming in as a freshman at Moravian obviously one of my goals for myself was to be the best player I can be and constantly improve from year to year. Being named an all American is like seeing my personal goals become a reality. To be recognized as the caliber of player to be placed up there with Soltys, as well as Dave Zubia and Brendan Close from my freshman year means a lot to me."

On the field, Hanson hit .408 (sixth in school history) while starting all 43 games he played in this season. Hanson ripped 62 hits, which was tied for the team lead and is tied for second in a single season in the Moravian record books. He also scored 53 runs this spring, just one shy of the school record and drove in another 48 RBIs, the third most in s single season.  Hanson also paced the Hounds with three homers, and he added 10 doubles and four triples for 89 total bases, the fifth most in a season, and a .586 slugging percentage, which is eighth in the record books. Hanson was walked 25 times and hit by pitch 13 more times for a .518 on-base percentage, second in the record books, and he contributed 13 stolen bases. From his right field position, Hanson recorded 72 putouts and three assists in 77 chances.

"To keep it simple, I look to be aggressive in a smart way," talked Hanson of his approach at the plate. "If I come up to hit with a runner I'm scoring position with less than two outs I'm looking to swing at the first good pitch I can drive. I want to be aggressive to the point where I'm putting the ball in play hard no matter what but smart enough to not chase a bad pitch. Fortunately this year our lineup was so good 1-9 that I had a lot of good chances to drive runners in."

Lorah would garner All-America honors for the second consecutive year in the javelin with a fourth place finish at the 2014 NCAA Division III National Championships on a throw of 64.67 meters (212 feet, two inches) that came on his opening throw of the preliminaries. He was eighth in the nation in 2013 and was competing at the NCAA meet for the third straight year, just missing All-America honors as a sophomore with a ninth place finish in 2012.

"It is a great honor," commented Lorah on being an All-American. "When I started my college career, achieving this high form of NCAA recognition didn't even cross my mind. But it just goes to show that with the help of teammates and coaches, as well as support from your family and friends, if you really want something, there's nothing to stop you. Hard work, dedication, and determination are essential, take every bit of training seriously and always push yourself beyond your limits, also have fun doing it."

After opening the spring with a throw of 63.62 meters (208 feet, nine inches) at the West Chester University Golden Ram Invitational, Lorah spent most of the spring as the national leader in the javelin. Lorah had his best throw of a meet on his opening attempt of competition four times this spring, and that is something that likely came from a change in throwing motion. Where most javelin throws use a majority of the 100-foot runway on their approach, the coaching staff realized the Lorah was losing speed in the transition halfway through the run and switched him to a seven-step approach, one that had him at or near the top of the nation all spring.

"We did it for consistency' Lorah said of the change. "Bob Luciano and I discussed this matter. I didn't feel as comfortable and almost out of control with my old run up. By shortening my run up and only doing a half approach, I was in control and confident knowing that I would be able to hit 60+ meters every throw."

Lorah's shot to be an All-American nearly didn't happen this spring as he was injured around the time of the Penn Relays.

"Once I was informed by the doctor that my knee could not get any worse and all it depended on was my tolerance of pain, I was going to give it my best effort," commented Lorah. "I had no plans to back out of the last meet of my career, no matter what, I wanted go out as a great competitor."

Soltys joined Hanson in making the Greyhounds' baseball season one to remember in 2014. Soltys also had a long list of postseason awards including spots on the D3baseball.com All-America Third Team, the D3baseball.com All-Mid-Atlantic Region First Team, the ABCA/Rawlings All-Mid-Atlantic Region Second Team, the ECAC Division III South All-Star First Team and the Landmark All-Conference First Team.

"It's an honor being named All American, along with Matt and my previous teammates who were named All American before me," stated Soltys. "Receiving this award, with our difficult schedule, shows how amazing the Moravian baseball program is becoming. It was really a privilege being a part of the program the past four years, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for them."

Soltys pitched in 19 of the Greyhounds' 44 contests this spring, and he posted a 6-1 record to go along with four saves. He allowed four earned runs in 41.2 innings of action for a 0.86 ERA, the second lowest in a single season at Moravian. He struck out 47 batters and allowed 12 walks. Listed as a closer, Soltys tossed more than one inning in 10 of his 19 appearances over the last three months including a pair of stints of more than five innings.

"This year was very different for me," explained Soltys. "It was my senior year and I wanted the ball as much as possible. The games I was put into were all very close in scores. With the adrenaline going through my body, I usually didn't even realize how many innings I was pitching till the game was over. As a captain, I wanted to show what it was like to be a team player. Instead of just focusing on being a closer, I wanted to focus on doing everything I could to help the team out every chance I got."

Soltys completed his career with an 11-3 record, and his .786 winning percentage is fourth in school history. He is also second all-time with nine career saves and ninth with 116 career strikeouts in 120 innings on the mound.

"I definitely won't forget any of them, but the win that stands out to me the most is our game against Susquehanna on senior day," said Soltys recalling his final campaign. "I got my 100th strikeout, which doesn't happen very often for a closer. It was a really amazing feeling to achieve my goal and also come out of the game with a win. It was also really great to be able to do it on our home field, with all the parents and fans there to support us."

Dalickas used her explosive bat to earn a spot on the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Louisville Slugger All-America Second Team. The honor was part of a long list of awards for the slugger who was also the ECAC Division III South Player of the Year, a First Team ECAC South All-Star, a Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-East Region First Team selection, the Landmark Conference Player of the Year and a Landmark All-Conference First Team honoree.

"Getting All-American has been a goal of mine since I got to Moravian," Dalickas stated. "It was really a 'I cannot believe it' kind of moment when I first found out. I was so excited. This past season is totally unreal to me still. I was seeing the ball better than I ever have. I had the opportunity to play with a fellow All-American teammate in Shannen Mohr, and it was fun to be able to learn a few things about how she got to that point. Being named All-American was such an amazing, humbling, and joyful experience. Words really can't even describe it. It's certainly something I will never forget and will always be so proud of, especially being able to come back as an alum and getting to see my name and number out on the fence in the company of some of the best players Moravian Softball has ever had. I don't think it'll really set in until that moment happens. Until then, I'll be working hard to see if I can do it again for my final season, hopefully accompanying a Conference championship."

Dalickas helped Moravian to a 29-8 overall record and a berth in the Landmark Tournament. On the field, she led the Greyhounds with a .505 average to go with 54 hits, 38 runs, 12 doubles, two triples, a school record 12 home runs, a school record 53 RBIs, a school record 106 total bases, a .991 slugging percentage, 19 walks and a .579 on-base percentage. Dalickas made the defensive switch from right field to first base this season, and she made 218 putouts and seven assists in the field while starting in all 37 games, just one of two Greyhounds to play in every game this spring.

"Breaking records is something I never imagined doing," commented Dalickas. "Once everyone started telling me I was close to breaking them, I kind of just blew it off. You can't go up there thinking about breaking records because you'll start to press and put pressure on yourself. I was just playing some good ball this season, and it kind of just happened. I hit the scoreboard for the one that broke the single season home run record, and I just remember rounding second and saying to myself 'I did it.' Breaking records puts me in a special part of Moravian Softball history, and I think that's the coolest part about it all because those eight letters that are across my chest every game mean something special to me and that's who I play for ... my school and my teammates."

Karnopp took over the role of Moravian's top pole vaulter this year to keep the string of Greyhounds earning All-America honors alive. Since Anna Heim '10 earned her first All-America accolade in 2008, Moravian has had at least one pole vaulter finish in the top eight either indoors or outdoors garnering All-America honors every year.

"Being named All American is a big honor that every track athlete is striving for and it's an endless battle to get that honor," stated Karnopp. "That being said, it means a lot to be giving that title and it makes you want more. It made me want to strive to better myself for outdoors."

This past Match, Karnopp was making his first appearance at the NCAA Championships and finished seventh in the pole vault at 4.75 meters (15 feet, seven inches) to earn his All-America award. Leading up to the meet, Karnopp had captured the Landmark Conference Championship and first place at the ECAC Division III Indoor meet.

Outdoors, Karnopp competed at the Penn Relays and won the ECAC Outdoor title before making a return trip to the NCAA Championships. He would finish in a tie for 13th at a height of 4.75 meters (15 feet, seven inches).

Outdoors was much more competitive," Karnopp said. I'm not sure for the reasoning behind it but it usually ends up that way for all events. If I could change something from the outdoor meet, it would be thinking more positive. Pole vault is a big mental sport and once you think you can't do something ... you won't do it. Confidence is one thing that I'm changing and will be bringing into these next two years."

 

Top 10 Stories of 2013-14

#10 – Women's Basketball Leads DIII in Blocked Shots
#9 – Seven Hounds Earn All-America Honors
#8 – TBA
#7 – TBA
#6 – TBA
#5 – TBA
#4 – TBA
#3 – TBA
#2 – TBA
#1 – TBA