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Penn College Athletics Celebrates Past, Looks to Future

Classes begin Aug. 20 at Pennsylvania College of Technology and, while athletes are preparing for this season’s openers, there are several things to celebrate since the end of last season and some changes are on the way in the North Eastern Athletic Conference.

2018 Hall of Fame class announcedThree New Hall of Famers Named
Kierstin Steer, of South Williamsport (women’s basketball and women’s soccer); Amber (Geckle) Dreese, of Lewistown (women’s volleyball); and Skylar Gingrich, of Lititz (baseball), represent the Class of 2018 chosen for induction into the Penn College Athletics Hall of Fame. They will enter the hall in a 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5 ceremony in the Thompson Professional Development Center.

Steer earned all-conference honors during each of the four basketball seasons she played, from 2009-10 through 2012-13, being named Penn State University Athletic Conference Honorable Mention as a freshman and a senior and to the PSUAC First Team as a sophomore and junior. As a senior, she also received United States Collegiate Athletic Association Honorable Mention honors. Steer led the Wildcats in scoring during her first three seasons and, in her final year, she became the first woman in Penn College history to crack the 1,000-point career scoring mark, finishing with a then-record 1,246 points. Twice during her career, as a freshman and as a senior, Penn College reached the PSUAC quarterfinals.

As a four-year women’s soccer starter, Steer was awarded USCAA All-American honors as a freshman and sophomore and USCAA All-American Honorable Mention honors as a junior. Twice during her soccer career, the Wildcats reached the USCAA National Championships, where they tied for third during the 2009-10 season when she led the team in goals and total points.

(Geckle) Dreese came onto the Penn College scene during the 2002-03 season and was called by women’s volleyball coach Bambi Hawkins the program’s first “true” setter. A three-year team captain, the Wildcats reached new heights during her four seasons of play, going 9-10 when she was a freshman (when she earned all-Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference honors), 10-5 as a sophomore in 2003-04 when Penn College reached the playoffs for the first time in school history, 21-2 during her junior season in 2004-05 and winning the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Association West Division and overall championships, and 12-10 during her senior season in 2005-06 and the team finished second in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. At least twice during her career she was awarded team “Most Inspirational” honors.

Gingrich was a leader on Penn College baseball teams that not only reached the playoffs each year he played but posted a combined record of 93 wins and just 45 losses. During 2008-09. the Wildcats went 36-9 (during fall and spring seasons) and captured the PSUAC championship. In 2009-10. the squad finished 12-11 and was fourth in the conference. In 2010-11, Penn College went 22-11 and was third in the PSUAC and, during his senior season in 2011-12, the team went 23-14, finishing among the top four in the PSUAC and top 10 in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. That year, Gingrich was named to both the PSUAC and USCAA First Team and he was awarded PSUAC Player of the Year honors.

Penn College Fourth in Presidents’ Cup
Penn College placed fourth in the NEAC Presidents’ Cup. It is highest finish for the institution since joining the conference in 2014-15.The Wildcats finished 14th in 2014-15, 10th in 2015-16 and sixth last season.

“I’m extremely proud of what our student-athletes and coaches accomplished,” Penn College Director of Athletics John Vandevere said. “We’ve challenged them to improve every year and they’ve answered that challenge each year.

“The improvement this department has shown since our first season in the conference is very impressive and is a credit to all of our students and coaches, and I’m excited to see how they raise the bar next year.”

This is the fourth year that the NEAC has determined its Presidents’ Cup winner by utilizing the core values of NCAA Division III. In addition to calculating athletics success, which was the only factor taken into consideration when awarding the cup in the past, the NEAC also now takes into account academics, sportsmanship and community service.

Each category of the Presidents’ Cup produces individual cup winners, with Lancaster Bible, Keuka College, Morrisville State College and Penn State Berks earning recognition throughout the week. Each of the NEAC’s full-member institutions are given a ranking based on their results from each category. The total rankings from all four categories are added together, with the lowest overall score determining the honoree. This model is the first of its kind across all NCAA Division III conferences.

Penn College placed seventh in the Faculty Athletics Representatives’ Cup, which recognizes academic success among conference schools. The Wildcats had 58 scholar-athletes, which is 36 percent of their 161 student-athletes, and an average GPA of 3.03.

Penn College was 10th in 2014-15, eighth in 2015-16 and 11th last season.

The Wildcats finished second in the Senior Woman Administrator’s Cup, which recognizes community service hours completed by conference institutions. Penn College topped the conference in total hours with 2,502, placed second in number of participants and SWA votes, and was fourth in total funds raised.

Penn College finished 13th in 2014-15, fourth in 2015-16 and tied for second last year.

Penn College placed fifth in the Athletics Direct Report Cup, which ranks good sportsmanship among conference institutions.

The Wildcats finished ninth in 2014-15, 11th in 2015-16 and seventh last season.

In the Athletics Director’s Cup, which is determined annually by athletic success, Penn College finished sixth overall. The Wildcats placed fourth in men’s sports – highlighted by playoff appearances from baseball and soccer, and top-three finishes in golf and cross-country. On the women’s side, the Wildcats placed 13th  – highlighted by a runner-up finish by women’s soccer and a second-round playoff appearance by softball.

Penn College finished 10th in 2014-15, 12th in 2015-16 and eighth in 2016-17.

Conference Honors Wildcat
Hanna WilliamsIn June, the NEAC announced Penn College’s Hanna Williams as the 2017-18 Female Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Member of the Year. Keuka College’s Dakota Skinner was recognized as the NEAC Male SAAC Member of the Year.

The SAAC awards were established in 2014-15 to recognize the multiple contributions of SAAC members throughout the conference. Each school has an opportunity to nominate one male and one female SAAC member from their institution based on leadership roles within the group, dedication to community service and involvement on campus. All nominations were reviewed and voted on by the SAAC advisers from each of the conference’s full-member institutions.

Williams, of Marion, New York, graduated in May with a degree in industrial design, and represented the Wildcats on the women’s soccer and women’s tennis teams. She was a four-year SAAC member, including this past year as president, and was instrumental in developing the Penn College SAAC. Williams helped organize various community service projects that include move-in day, student-athlete volunteers for the Salvation Army 10K/20K Community Challenge and the Penn College baseball Military Appreciation Doubleheader.

“Hanna has been a fantastic representative of what a true student-athlete is,” former Penn College women’s soccer coach John McNichol said. “Her dedication to helping grow the Penn College SAAC to a thriving student-run organization has been amazing. Her hard work, organization and energy led to more student-athletes getting involved and participating in many community service projects and SAAC-led events. Hanna’s leadership as SAAC president will be felt for years to come as she has helped lay the groundwork for the Penn College SAAC to continue to thrive in the future.”

Williams played a pivotal role in organizing Pie the Athletics Staff, Yards for Yeardley and Penny Wars, which served as the Wildcats’ three main events during NCAA Division III Week in April. As a dual-sport student-athlete with a 3.97 GPA, she also made an impact in the Williamsport community by helping facilitate a school supply drive and volunteering hours at the Firetree Place After-School program. Williams also spearheaded a three-day Read Across America event in various Williamsport Area School District elementary schools.

Penn College SAAC adviser and head softball coach Jackie Klahold recognized that Williams’ effort have created a new standard for the Wildcats’ SAAC group moving forward.

“I am so proud of Hanna,” Klahold said. “She has done an incredible job of demonstrating what it takes to be a successful Division III student-athlete on and off the field. This past year, Hanna was instrumental in leading our student-athletes and athletic department to our highest volunteer hours, participants and money raised. She has definitely left her mark here at Penn College and set the bar high for our current and future SAAC members.”

Williams, who served as an NEAC SAAC representative at the 2017 NCAA Convention, led the 2017-18 Penn College SAAC to 2,642 total hours volunteered. Under her leadership, 686 individuals participated in events and Penn College raised $4,683. Some of the charities that benefited from Penn College’s efforts include the Salvation Army, Autism Speaks, Ronald McDonald House, Wounded Warrior Project, Special Olympics of Lycoming County and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She is the second student-athlete from Penn College to be the recipient of the NEAC Female SAAC Member of the Year award. (Nicole Lo Furno, a softball player who earned degrees in applied management and baking and pastry arts, was honored for the 2015-16 season.)

“Hanna’s impact on our campus is immeasurable,” Vandevere said. “Her work ethic, character and passion are hard to quantify and she has left a lasting impression. We have been very fortunate to have Hanna for four years and we’re proud of all she has accomplished. We will miss her dearly.”

Classroom Standouts
In July, it was announced that Penn College had 58 student-athletes selected as NEAC Scholar-Athletes. The Wildcats finished seventh among the conference’s 14 teams.

For the fourth straight year, the conference set a record with 899 student-athletes receiving a scholar-athlete distinction to top the record of 806 set last year.

This year’s list of honorees emphasizes the geographic diversity of the league and its member institutions with NEAC Scholar-Athletes representing 36 states, Puerto Rico and 15 countries.

In order to be selected, a student-athlete competing in a conference-sponsored sport must achieve a combined GPA of 3.4 or higher for the fall and spring semesters and must have been in good standing on his or her team.

The baseball, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s cross-country teams led Penn College with nine selections each.

Honored were:

Baseball (nine)
Maxwell Bair, senior, Centre Hall, applied management; Maxwell Conrad, freshman, Hagerstown, Maryland, aviation maintenance technology; Deric Ellerman, senior, Landisburg, building construction technology; Cole Hofmann, junior, Newtown, applied management; Nicholas Perna, senior, Frenchtown, New Jersey, construction management; Christian Perna, freshman, Frenchtown, New Jersey, building construction technology; Kole Pokrivsak, freshman, Nazareth, heating, ventilation and air conditioning design technology; Hunter Thomas, sophomore, Elizabethtown, forest technology; and Alex Zelger, junior, Red Lion, welding and fabrication engineering technology

Men’s Soccer (nine)
Greg Babbert, freshman, Flemington, New Jersey, architectural technology; Greg Dorsch, sophomore, Mount Airy, Maryland, welding and fabrication; Joseph Dreese, sophomore, Williamsport, information assurance and cyber security; Daniel Hibbs, junior Williamsport, sport and event management; Terrance Hillman, freshman, Williamsport, building construction technology; Jakob LeMay, sophomore, Miffilinburg, industrial design; Chris McFarland, freshman, Coatesville, manufacturing engineering technology; Cody Schwoyer, sophomore, Williamsport, electrical technology; and Brandon Wolff, junior, Effort, graphic design

Women’s Soccer (nine)
Breica Beck, sophomore, Mountville, physician assistant; Tiffany Brown, sophomore, Mechanicsburg, pre-nursing; Dominque Brown, freshman, Benton, nursing
Tayla Derr, sophomore, Selinsgrove, pre-dental hygiene; Taylor Gonzales, freshman, Lititz, nursing; Lauren Herr, senior captain, Lititz, construction management; Breelyn Johnson-Fite, sophomore, Bogota, New Jersey, landscape/horticulture technology: landscape emphasis; Jenna Rejman, freshman, East Aurora, New York, pre-physician assistant; and Hanna Williams, senior captain, Marion, New York, industrial design

Men’s Cross-Country (nine)
Seth Balkey, junior, State College, applied technology; Hayden Beiter, sophomore, Williamsport, building construction technology; David Carlson, sophomore, Elizabethtown, engineering design technology; Benjamin Ericksen, freshman, Norwich, New York, forest technology; Christopher Hogan, sophomore, Halifax, welding and fabrication engineering technology; Matthew Leiby, freshman, Danville, civil engineering technology; Jake Mashack, freshman, Bloomsburg, civil engineering technology; Thomas Runner, junior, Elkridge, Maryland, building construction technology; and Austin Weinrich, sophomore, Jenkintown, building construction technology

Women’s Cross-Country (five)
Abigail Duvall, freshman, Centre Hall, graphic design; Tiffany Griffie, sophomore, Newville, pre-physician assistant; Joelle Perelli, sophomore, Bath, welding and fabrication engineering technology; Sidney Trunzo, sophomore, Williamsport, plastics and polymer engineering technology; and Brittany Weiskopff, freshman, Blossburg, accounting

Softball (four)
Laycee Clark, freshman, Tyrone, physical therapist assistant; Morgan Heritage, freshman, New Castle, Delaware, pre-dental hygiene; Alexis Heritage, freshman, New Castle, Delaware, information technology: technical support technology emphasis; and Emily Wikane, junior, Bel Air, Maryland, graphic design

Men’s Tennis (four)
William DeMarco, freshman, Glen Mills, landscape/horticulture technology: landscape emphasis; Stephan Helminiak, senior, Williamsport, civil engineering technology; Joseph Morrin, freshman, Morrisville, graphic design; and Ethan Rosler, senior, Bloomsburg, welding and fabrication engineering technology

Men’s golf (four)
Ned Baumbach, sophomore, Elizabethtown, electrical technology; William Dyer, freshman, Wallingford, Connecticut, heavy construction equipment technology: Caterpillar equipment emphasis; Austin Moscariello, sophomore, New Columbia, building construction technology; and Brian Whelan, freshman, Cresco, welding technology

Women’s Basketball (two)
Erin Shaffer, junior, Williamsport, graphic design; and Victoria Wolfe, freshman, Dalmatia, pre-occupational therapy

Women’s Tennis (two)
Meghan Herman, senior, Jersey Shore, industrial design; and Samantha Via, senior, Williamsport, industrial design

Men’s Basketball (one)
Ryan Lockman, junior, White Salmon, Washington, electronics and computer engineering technology

Matlack Named Interim Women’s Soccer Coach
Following the resignation in late spring of head women’s soccer coach John McNichol, who accepted the women’s head coaching position at Wilkes University, Christa Matlack, of South Williamsport, was named to guide the Wildcats this season as the team’s interim head coach.

A standout player at both South Williamsport Area High School and Bucknell University, Matlack spent three seasons as the head girls soccer coach at her high school alma mater. Prior to that she was an assistant at the University of Scranton (2013-14) and a graduate assistant at NCAA Division II Clarion University (2011-13).

During her four seasons at Bucknell, Matlack was one of the top players in the Patriot League, earning first-team honors in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She twice was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year (2009 and 2010) and was chosen as a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Scholar All-American twice (2009, third team; 2010, second team).

Matlack graduated as one of the top scorers in Bucknell women’s soccer history and helped the Bison reach the Patriot League playoffs in each of her four seasons. In the spring of 2011, she was presented with the Christy Mathewson Award, which is presented annually at Bucknell to the outstanding male and female senior athletes.

Among her high school career accomplishments: Matlack was a key player on the 2006 Mounties team that went 27-0-2 and won the PIAA Class AA state championship, earning all-state honors that season. One year earlier, Matlack became the first player in District 4 history to score 60 or more goals in a season, according to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, which named her its Female Athlete of the Year in 2006-07. She lettered four years in soccer and basketball and once in both track and softball at South.

NEAC Changes Coming
In July, the NEAC Presidents’ Council accepted Penn State Harrisburg as a full-member institution with an effective date of July 1, 2019. The addition of Penn State Harrisburg will maintain the number of NEAC full-member institutions at 12 in the 2019-20 academic year.

Penn State Harrisburg returns to the NEAC after spending the past six years with the Capital Athletic Conference. In its first stint with the NEAC, the Nittany Lions joined as a full member in 2007 before departing at the conclusion of the 2012-13 academic year.

Penn State Harrisburg sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports and will participate in NEAC competition in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.

With the addition of Penn State Harrisburg to the league, the NEAC will begin sponsoring men’s and women’s outdoor track and field beginning in the 2019-20 academic year as the conference will have a total of four teams in each sport. Outside of the NEAC, the Lions also will continue compete in men’s and women’s indoor track and field.

During their previous six-year tenure with the NEAC, the Lions claimed a combined seven conference championships in the sports of baseball (one), men’s golf (two), men’s tennis (two), women’s soccer (one) and women’s tennis (one).

NEAC membership has seen a number of changes over the past year due to conference reshuffling throughout Division III. Bryn Athyn College and Wilson College departed the NEAC at the end of the 2017-18 academic year and the College of Saint Elizabeth will join the Colonial States Athletic Conference for the 2019-20 year. The addition of Penn State Harrisburg will provide geographic balance for the NEAC with six full-member institutions in each of the North and South divisions.

Currently, the NEAC has 12 NCAA Division III member institutions: Cazenovia College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Penn College, Penn State Abington, Penn State Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and Wells College. Associate members are Cedar Crest College (women’s swimming), D’Youville College (women’s lacrosse), Hilbert College (men’s and women’s lacrosse), Medaille College (men’s and women’s lacrosse), Rutgers University-Camden (men’s golf) and Wilson College (men’s volleyball). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in men’s tennis and with the Colonial State Athletic Conference in field hockey.

Baseball Camp Saturday
Wildcats baseball coach Chris Howard, a former major leaguer, will hold a one-day camp for players in grades 9-12 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at Logue Field. The $95 fee includes a T-shirt. For more information, contact Howard via email or register onlineIn 12 seasons, Howard’s Penn College teams have gone 270-166, won three conference championships and finished among the top four eight other times.

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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