Tag: Inside LU Athletics

Inside LU Athletics: Swick battles back from hunting accident

The first thing he did was move his arms and legs and realize he wasn’t paralyzed.

It was a chilly early evening this past December, and Spencer Swick knew he was hurt. Swick, a junior track and football standout at Lawrence University who will compete in this weekend’s Midwest Conference Championships, was laying flat on his back in a Marinette County forest.

Swick had been deer hunting in a tree stand, but the light was fading so it was time to call it a day. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Swick had to climb down to the ladder using a couple of branches.

“Both of the branches I was holding onto broke, and I fell straight back, 18 or 19 feet. I landed right on my back,” Swick said.

“I felt (my back) crack. By far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

Swick said those few seconds he was in the air were a bit surreal.

“It’s such a blur, just falling,” Swick said. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to hit the ground at some point. It seemed to take forever.”

Getting over the initial shock took a few minutes, Swick said. He gathered himself and checked to see if all his limbs were working. The thought of paralysis immediately came to mind.

“The first thing I did was try to move,” Swick said. “When I could, I just put that out of my head.”

Swick, who received some cushioning from the backpack he was wearing, quickly found his mobile phone. He texted his uncle, who had been on his way to pick him up.

By the time his uncle arrived, Swick had somehow managed to sit up. He walked out of the woods under his power, but even a guy this tough knew he was hurt.

“The pain was so much, I had to go to the hospital,” Swick said.

They drove about 90 minutes to a hospital in Oconto Falls, and Swick was told he had a compression fracture of the L1 vertebrae and a herniated disc. Some of the first people he called were Lawrence football coach Mike Barthelmess and track and field coach Jason Fast.

“Right away when you hear hunting accident, you never think it’s a good thing. It’s never something minor, at least,” Fast said.

“I just hoped that he was OK. I wasn’t worried about him competing or anything at that point. You think of a guy his size falling from any height, there’s bound to be some major damage.”

Doctors told Swick the fracture was stable and he wouldn’t need surgery. He was told it would be eight to 10 weeks of careful recovery time.

“There wasn’t a whole lot to do other than not to do anything,” Swick said.

Fast said Swick was patient, quietly providing leadership as he watched his teammates work during the indoor track season. Throws coach Ellie Sitek took the lead with Swick when he began practicing again in late January.

“He did a really good job of taking the time he needed to take,” Fast said. “We didn’t rush things back. When he did come back, we got him back into things slowly. I think coach Sitek did a good job of bringing him back slowly so he could feel confident in what he was doing.”

Swick threw a personal record of 46-10.25 in the weight throw during the indoor season, and he was thrilled to be back.

“It felt amazing,” Swick said of his return. “I’ve had a  lot of other sports injuries so I’ve missed time during the season and in the off-season. I just hate sitting there watching. It was awesome when I was able to come back and start throwing.”

The relief to be back practicing and competing was immense because one of Swick’s first thoughts when was laying in the snow months earlier was pure terror to a young athlete.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I might not be able to play again,’ ” Swick said. “I was a lot more concerned about letting the team down. I was more worried about that.”

Now that he has returned to the track squad, Swick has other thoughts on his mind. He’s thinking about Lawrence legend Ron Wopat and breaking a few of his records.

“My goal is to have all the school records in shot and disc and hammer so I have a lot of catching up to do,” Swick said.

Fast knows Swick will be motivated this weekend when the team competes in Grinnell, Iowa, and when he returns next season.

“I know he wants to be all-conference in every event he throws in,” Fast said. “He’s aiming for that, and I know he won’t be satisfied with anything less than that.”

Inside LU Athletics: Vikings take balanced attack into MWC Tournament

Pitchers tend to breathe a sigh of relief when they get through the tough part of the opposition’s batting order.

The problem with the Lawrence University softball team, if you’re the opposition, is the easy part of the lineup never seems to come to the plate. The Vikings take a balanced and prolific offense into this weekend’s Midwest Conference Tournament at Lake Forest College.

Making its second consecutive MWC Tournament appearance, Lawrence (18-11) opens tournament play against South Division champion Lake Forest (23-8) at noon on Friday. North Division winner St. Norbert College (16-15) faces Monmouth College (20-16) in the other opening game Friday. The winner of the double-elimination tournament receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“We’re so balanced,” Lawrence coach Kim Tatro said. “I think in certain years we’ve had some really explosive hitters. This year we can get that explosiveness from a variety of different sources. It makes us more successful, and for other teams, a bigger challenge to deal with.”

Lawrence has the league’s highest batting average at .333, and the Vikings have averaged 6.6 runs per game, which is second to only Lake Forest (7.8) in the conference.

“When we’re (balanced) as a team, that’s what makes us good,” Tatro said. “It’s not about just one or two people being successful.”

Eight of Lawrence’s nine regular starters are hitting higher than .300, and the other one is just below the .300 mark. The offense is paced by junior shortstop Amanda Jaskolski, who is hitting .422 with eight doubles, one triple, six homers and a 30 runs batted in.

While Jaskolski has been terrific in the clean-up spot, production from the bottom of the order also has been excellent. Second baseman Cory Paquette has played more games (19) than anyone else while batting seventh and has hit .321 in that spot. Freshman catcher Sam Belletini has played a team-high 10 games while batting eighth and is hitting .400 in that spot. Outfielder Tierney Duffy has hit ninth more than anyone else and is at .296 at the bottom of the order.

The 7-8-9 hitters have batted a combined .315 while scoring 51 runs and driving in 51 in 29 games. The bottom of the order has been so good getting on base that lead-off hitter Savanna Marsicek has driven in 13 runs while batting .333.

“I think we’re getting contributions from a lot of different places,” Tatro said. “I think that’s important to your team. Playing down the stretch without some key contributors was important for us. It’s nice to not have to rely on just a couple of people to get things done for us, whether that’s hitting, pitching or defense.”

While keeping the offense cranked up this weekend will be important, Tatro knows her top two pitchers also will have to be on their games. Juniors Kara Vance and Liz Barthels have both come up big in recent games, with both of them tossing shutouts in must-win conference games.

“We have some very good offensive teams in our conference,” Tatro said. “Any time you can shut out anyone in our conference, it’s pretty impressive. We’re going to need similar-type performances going into the tournament. All four teams going into the tournament can hit.

“It’s going to be a huge key for us. Keep the hitters off-balance and keep the ball in the yard.”

Vance is 11-4 with a 4.22 earned run average, and Barthels is 6-6 with a 3.72 ERA. The Vikings also can turn to sophomore Jessica Demski, who has been effective with a 1-1 record and 3.91 ERA in 14.1 innings.

If Lawrence wants to return to its first league title since 1999, Tatro said her team has three key areas on which to focus.

“No. 1, we have to be solid defensively. We can’t give extra outs in innings. No. 2, we have to be productive one through nine in the lineup. We can’t rely on one or two people to hit for us,” Tatro said.

“Finally, we have to pitch smart. That’s not by overpowering people, it’s by keeping them off-balance, changing speeds and letting the defense do the work.”

Inside LU Athletics: Newcomers making big impact for softball

Kim Tatro has been coaching long enough to know a good thing when she sees one.

The Lawrence University softball coach knew she had a talented group of incoming players, but two of the newest Vikings have impressed Tatro and put up some stellar numbers. Shortstop Amanda Jaskolski and catcher Sam Belletini are leading the Vikings in hitting and helping Lawrence put together another strong season.

“We knew what we were getting with Jazz,” said Tatro, referring to Jaskolski by her nickname. “She is vey gifted athletically and has been a huge asset to our program. She knows so much about the game, and the experience she brings has been invaluable. We knew Sam had the physical tools but were unsure how quickly she would adjust to the college game. We expect so much out of the catching position and Sam gets better every single day.”

Jaskolski, a native of nearby Shawano, Wis., is a junior who transferred to Lawrence after playing two years at Darton State College in Georgia. She earned the starting job at shortstop and has provided a power surge at the plate. Jaskolski is hitting a team-high .438 with eight doubles, one triple, four home runs and 23 runs batted in. With her .781 slugging percentage, she has put together a gaudy 1.281 OPS.

“I think it’s gone a little better than I expected,” said Jaskolski, who ranks in the top 10 nationally in RBIs per game. “(The team) showed me the ropes of Lawrence. They have their own little community here. Having a team to help me do that has been great. We all just kind of clicked right away and made our own little bond within the softball team.”

Belletini is a first-year player from Gurnee, Ill., and has nailed down the starting job behind the plate. Tatro, a star catcher in her playing days, expects her catchers to lead and take charge.

“(Tatro) definitely commands that leadership role from the catcher. It’s been a big adjustment,” Belletini said. “When I started practice inside I was way quiet, and I didn’t take that leadership. Once I got to know the team, Alex (Chiodo) encouraged me and that helped a lot.”

Speak softly and carry a big stick seems to be Belletini’s motto. She is hitting .417 with seven doubles, a triple and 15 RBIs. Not bad for someone who wasn’t going to play at the collegiate level.

Lawrence pitcher Jessica Demski was Belletini’s prep teammate at Warren Township High School, and convinced her to visit Lawrence. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I like it a lot. I’m glad I decided to come here,” Belletini said. “I love playing softball. I think I would have regretted not playing.”

With the influx of newcomers, including Rheya Upadhyaya and Marisa Thackston, mixing with the veteran team, the Vikings have put together a 12-8 mark. This year’s team has great versatility to go along with a powerful offense.

“We are strong top to bottom,” Tatro said. “I said this early on, we have 16 players and all have a legitimate opportunity to start. When practice is that competitive every day, it brings out the best in everyone. As a staff, we have a lot of confidence in one through 16 on our team.”

Both Jaskolski and Belletini are looking for the team to make a run at another appearance in the four-team Midwest Conference Tournament. With the offense clicking, the Vikings have a shot at returning to the league tourney after finishing second last season.

“If you look at our team batting average, something is happening,” said Jaskolski, referring to Lawrence’s impressive .353 average. “It’s kind of crazy to have everyone on the same page at the same time.”

Inside LU Athletics: Francour sees bright future for Lawrence tennis

Steve Francour’s domain inside Alexander Gymnasium is all business.

The office of the Lawrence University men’s and women’s tennis coach has a white board filled with practice and recruiting notes, cases of tennis balls and a contraption for stringing racquets.

In that atmosphere, Francour places an imaginative and inventive take on his job with the Vikings.

“I think of playing tennis as kind of being an artist,” Francour said. “My job is to add skill sets to what you are trying to do. If you want to add a different color or a different medium, I can help you do that. I don’t make it black and white. I’m guiding you through a way to play.”

Deep in the heart of his first year coaching both teams, Francour is using more than two decades of collegiate coaching experience to begin shaping Lawrence’s teams. He will take the men’s team to Florida for a week of competition following final exams this week.

“I look at players as having their own unique skill set. Especially in tennis, you can’t make someone something they’re not,” Francour said. “You have a skill set. We have to make it the best it can be. If we have to add to that skill set or add tools to make you better, we will do that.”

Francour, who coached at UW-Oshkosh for 23 years before coming to Lawrence in 2013, can’t help but smile when he talks about his current teams. The Vikings have made the new coach feel right at home, Francour said.

“The tennis part has been easy,” Francour said. “The kids have been great. They have helped me with some things. Overall, I think the transition has been good.”

Francour’s greatest challenge involves recruiting the type of student-athlete that will be successful on and off the court at Lawrence. He said that student is different from the type of student he spent the last two decades recruiting.

“I’m understanding the type of kid that’s going to come to Lawrence. I’m getting the feel on recruiting,” said Francour, adding that he has been wowed by the deep affection people have for Lawrence.

“I’m very impressed with how if you’re a Lawrence graduate, you really have a tie-in with what the university did for you. Several people that I didn’t know were Lawrence graduates just couldn’t speak highly enough of the university. They tell you that without bring prompted. There’s a real fondness for having gone through the experience, being a graduate of Lawrence and seeing how it’s changed people’s lives.”

Francour also now believes in love at first sight, thanks to Lawrence.

“A young lady that I’m recruiting came for a visit. She applied and fell in love with the place on a visit,” Francour said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had someone tell me that before.”

Francour will lose three players from this year’s women’s team to graduation, and men’s player Jeremy Andereck also is a senior on a small men’s team. Recruiting is priority one to rebuild both teams.

“We’re starting from scratch. You’re building your own house instead of buying one,” Francour said.

“I think this is a place where we can compete for conference championships. I have no doubt that we can get the athletes in that are necessary. Tennis players tend to be very strong students that will gravitate towards Lawrence. We will provide them with an excellent education and an opportunity to compete. My goals are to win conference championships, get to the national tournament and see where it goes from there.”

Inside LU Athletics: Vikings bring experience, versatility to the diamond

Lawrence University baseball coach Jason Anderson is working on the concept that less is more.

The Vikings lost some key players to graduation, and the size of the squad has shrunk this season. That being said, this Lawrence squad is deeper and more versatile than any team Anderson has had.

“We have fewer guys but more flexibility. I strongly believe that we are deeper. We can put a lot of lineups out there and not lose anything,” said Anderson, who enters his sixth season at Lawrence.

“It’s a whole new personality because the senior group that graduated, this had been their team since they were freshmen. We’re developing a new personality, and a new way to do things. I’m excited to see us play and see what we can do. Hopefully we can play at a high level and get some wins out of it.”

Lawrence, which went 11-24 last season, will see improvement this spring with the help of an experienced pitching staff. The Vikings return three starters with a lot of innings under their belts in juniors Drew Doares, Atley Gay and Kelton Jenkins. Doares had just one win but posted a respectable 3.93 earned run average and struck out a team-high 33 in 55 innings.

The Vikings also will get more this season from junior Philip Clark, senior John Doran and third baseman Davis Ogilvie. Gene Shipanik, who led the team with a 2.38 ERA last season, will be the first left-hander out of the bullpen for the Vikings.

“Over the last two years, they’ve gotten a lot of experience in terms of knowing what does work and what doesn’t work,” Anderson said. “We were OK last year, but confidence-wise,we’re a little bit better this year and ready to take some steps forward.”

Lawrence returns four position starters on the infield and two more in the outfield.

Shortstop Gabe Henriques was lost to graduation, but the Vikings return Ogilvie at third, Sam Kossow at first, Marc Linger behind the plate and the combination of Joel Birch and Gabe Warshaw at second. Both Warshaw (.316) and Ogilvie (.312) hit better than .300 last season, and Ogilvie belted a team-best three homers in 2013.

“In the infield we are as talented as we’ve ever been,” Anderson said.

The Vikings also have options on the infield with some newcomers. When Ogilvie is pitching, freshmen Brandon Klar or Brandon Vamarasi could slide over to the hot corner, and Vamarasi also should see action behind the plate. The other newcomer is junior Luke Zablocki at first. Zablocki is a starting offensive lineman for the Lawrence football team, but swings a big bat and could see time at first or as the designated hitter.

“(Zablocki) swings it really, really well,” Anderson said. “I expect him to see some innings at first base, but he will be a formidable DH for us.”

Lawrence returns senior Aaron Benz in right and junior Jake Gordon in center. Benz hit .294 last season and drove in a team-high 24 runs. Gordon is a superb defender in center and a threat on the bases. Junior Dan Taylor, who saw action both pitching and in the outfield, could take over for Davide Harris in left. Taylor hit .348 and had three doubles in just 23 at-bats in 2013.

Sophomore Max Markoff and freshman Craig Batchelor are the likely candidates to back up across the outfield.

“I’m happy with the experience we have coming back,” Anderson said. “I do believe our freshmen will capably fill the spots of the guys that graduated.”

Lawrence opens its season on March 21 in Tucson, Ariz., against Hamline University, and the Vikings are scheduled to begin play at home on April 5.

“Everyone has worked really hard in the off-season. This is probably the best group I’ve had in terms of work ethic,” Anderson said. “I think we have a chance to be pretty good, but you don’t know until you play.”

Inside LU Athletics: Lawrence softball rolls with the changes

The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Lawrence University softball team.

As the Vikings prepare for the upcoming season, they do it without Shannon Murray, the 2013 Midwest Conference North Division Pitcher of the Year, who was lost to graduation. While that is a big change for Lawrence, the Vikings do return nearly every position player and some experienced pitching.

That combination should give Lawrence a chance to return to the Midwest Conference Tournament again this season after finishing second in the league in 2013.

“In some ways, we are as strong or stronger (than last season),” said Lawrence coach Kim Tatro, who earned her seventh league Coach of the Year honor last season. “The loss of Shannon is a significant one, and our pitchers are well aware of that. Someone has to step up and lead us. What may be most effective for us is to pitch by committee. We’ll see, it may be a work in progress.”

The Vikings return a trio of pitchers, led by junior Kara Vance, who saw action last season. She went 6-3 last season with a 3.16 earned run average in 64.1 innings. Pitchers Jessica Demski and Liz Barthels also return after seeing more limited action a season ago.

“Kara looks good. She’s doing some really nice things,” Tatro said.

“Until you’re on the field and playing in game situations, you don’t know how people are going to respond, but I feel pretty good about where we’re at right now.”

The wild card on the pitching staff is second baseman Cory Paquette, who pitched extensively as a prep standout. Tatro joked that she pulled Paquette out of retirement, but that she has the best velocity among the staff.

Lawrence has some outstanding returning players in the field, including all-conference third baseman Anna Wawiorka. She hit .319 as a freshman in 2013 and anchors an infield that returns all but one of its starters.

“Anna was just so solid there last year, and she makes things go for us in the short game, especially defensively,” Tatro said.

Senior Alex Chiodo hit .333 last season and will likely spend more time behind the plate after playing extensively at first base. Sophomore Katie Schumacher also is back at first after starting 12 games last season. Paquette returns at second, and senior Alissa Geipel is back after starting at shortstop last season.

The Vikings also have newcomers that are trying to nudge their way into the starting lineup. Junior transfer Amanda Jaskolski could be the starter at shortstop, and freshman catcher Samantha Belletini and freshman second baseman Marisa Thackston are pushing hard.

“(Amanda is) very gifted and Alissa Geipel did a fantastic job at shortstop last year,” Tatro said.

“We have solid newcomers who are going to contribute immediately or compete to contribute immediately.”

Across the outfield, the Vikings have returning starters in Savanna Marsicek and Tierney Duffy and experienced players in Mary Diduch, Brielle Bartes, Taylor Dodson and Geipel, who played left field as a sophomore. Freshman Rheya Upadhyaya also is in the mix for playing time in the outfield.

“We have 17 players and legitimately all 17 could compete for spots,” Tatro said. “This year’s group, top to bottom, is probably the most complete we’ve had in a while.”

The Vikings open their season March 21 in Clermont, Fla., and the ultimate goal will be to return to the four-team MWC Tournament in May.

“It’s nice that we got a taste of it last year and had some success in it,” Tatro said. “It was great to get back, and nice for our players to see that if you get there, anything can happen.”

Three for Siebert

Men’s basketball star Chris Siebert has been named to the All-Midwest Conference team for the third consecutive year.

A senior guard from Baraboo, Wis., Siebert was a first-team selection this season after earning second-team honors for both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Siebert averaged 17.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for the Vikings.

Siebert ranked seventh in the league in points per game and was among the leaders in a number of other categories. He ranked fourth with 3.1 3-pointers made per game and was fifth in 3-point shooting at 46.2 percent. Siebert finished 12th in field goal percentage at 46.8, 12th in free throw percentage at 81.7 and 13th at 2.9 assists per game. Siebert made 72 3-pointers on the season, which ranks second in school history to the 75 John Dekker made in 2009-10.

Siebert finished a stellar career fourth in scoring at Lawrence with 1,360 points.

Inside LU Athletics: Lawrence skaters aiming for playoff berth

The Lawrence University hockey team should start growing those playoff beards now because the Vikings are already in full do-or-die mode.

This season has been a struggle at times for the young Vikings, and it is quickly becoming crunch time. With three weeks left in the regular season, Lawrence finds itself battling just to get into the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

“We certainly know where we stand,” Lawrence coach Mike Szkodzinski said. “We understand that every point is crucial at this time of the year. We already feel like we are in the middle of our playoff run. It is going to be an exciting final three weeks of the season.”

The top eight teams make the NCHA playoffs, and Lawrence (5-13-1, 4-8-0 NCHA) currently holds down seventh place with eight points. Marian University is just ahead of the Vikings with 11 points, and MSOE and Northland College are tied for eighth place with six points.

The tight race made Lawrence’s 3-2 win last Saturday over No. 15 St. Scholastica positively huge.

“Being successful against a regional power like St. Scholastica is special,” Szkodzinski said. “They are well-coached and play hard in every aspect. And the fact that we had yet to win in 2014, it was certainly a welcome result for our group.”

That group is dominated by young players (seven freshmen, seven sophomores on the roster) at key positions. Captain and defenseman Brandon Boelter is a sophomore, top scorer Blake Roubos is a freshman and freshman goaltender Mattias Soderqvist has been on the team for less than two months.

Roubos is the leading rookie scorer in the conference at 1.06 points per game, and four Lawrence sophomores rank in the top six on the team in scoring. On the defensive side, four of the eight defensemen who have consistently been in the lineup are freshmen or sophomores.

Soderqvist has emerged as the top goaltender and picked up his first collegiate win against St. Scholastica. After a rough start, Soderqvist has raised his save percentage to .903 and lowered his goals against average to 3.73.

“Mattias has worked very hard since his arrival,” Szkodzinski said. “He is always one of the first guys on the ice and last guys off. His quiet, calm demeanor has settled our bench at key times. He is playing consistently, which is essential at that position.”

The talent on the squad has made the Vikings spectacular at times, highlighted by a 5-4 win over No. 2 St. Norbert College in early December, and very inconsistent at others.

“There are a number of factors, including youth at key spots, injuries and other unfortunate situations,” Szkodzinski said. “However, every program faces the same things, and we just need to find a way to truly commit to our style of play. We need to play structured and organized. We simply cannot play as individuals if we want to put our best product on the ice.

“Until we prove that we can bring our best night in and night out, we will continue to be up and down. We need 20 guys each night to contribute. We can’t have 18 or 19, we need all 20 guys to be fully engaged when the puck drops. If we get that, we have a chance to beat anyone as we have proven over the course of the year.”

Lawrence has a pair of wins over ranked opponents this season, and that marks the first time that has happened in the program’s history.

The Vikings have six games left in the regular season, two against Lake Forest College (including Friday at home), two at No. 1-ranked Adrian College and two at home vs. Finlandia University.

If the Vikings want to put off shaving, they are going to have to find a few more wins between now and the middle of next month.

Saunders earns NCHA honor

Senior forward Huck Saunders was named the NCHA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against No. 15 St. Scholastica.

Saunders, a native of Seattle, Wash., scored a pair of goals in Lawrence’s 3-2 win over the Saints last Saturday. He also scored Lawrence’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss to St. Scholastica last Friday.

Saunders now leads the team with nine goals, and he has six assists for 15 points this season.

Scoring landmarks

Basketball players Chris Siebert and Alex Deshler continue to move up their respective scoring lists.

On the men’s side, Siebert is now tied with his head coach, Joel DePagter, for eighth place on the Lawrence career list with 1,243 points. Siebert, a senior guard from Baraboo, Wis., needs just five points to move past Lawrence Hall of Famers Matt Miota and Joel Ungrodt and into sixth place. Siebert is just 100 points away from passing Doug Fyfe (1,342) for fourth place.

Deshler, a senior guard from La Crosse, Wis., now has 811 points and ranks 15th on the women’s career scoring list. Deshler needs just 58 points over the final seven games to reach the top 10. Carrie Van Groll ranks 10th with 868 points.

Inside LU Athletics: Barthelmess signs to play pro football in Germany

Lawrence University star quarterback Luke Barthelmess figured he had closed the book on his football career.

As it turns out, he has another chapter to write.

Barthelmess has signed to play professionally with the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League. He will join the team for training camp in late March with the season opening in May.

“I’m looking foward to every possible facet of this thing,” Barthelmess said. “Playing more football, playing professional football and living in Europe.”

Barthelmess finished his Lawrence career by earning a spot on the All-Midwest Conference team. During the 2013 season, Barthelmess completed 193 of 346 passes for 2,133 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished second in the league at 213.3 passing yards per game. Barthelmess also ran 177 times for 889 yards and two touchdowns.

Barthelmess, who averaged 5.0 yards per carry, finished eighth in the conference at 88.9 yards per game. He also finished first in the league in total offense at 302.2 yards per game.

The opportunity to play overseas presented itself after Barthelmess played in the Bowl of the Stars, a Division III all-star game in Mexico in December. The offensive coordinator for Team Stars and Stripes was Joe Austin, the head coach at Southwestern University. Austin’s quarterbacks coach is former Lawrence assistant Byron Abram so Austin knew about Barthelmess before coaching him in Mexico.

Austin broached the idea of playing overseas to Barthelmess.

“I thought about it a little bit and figures why not try it and see where it goes,” Barthelmess said.

Barthelmess had just led Team Stars and Stripes to a 29-7 victory over the CONADEIP All-Stars in Monterrey. Barthelmess led Team Stars and Stripes on three scoring drives in the first half. He completed 11-of-16 passes for 103 yards and ran seven times for 49 yards and a touchdowns.

The Stuttgart starting quarterback, Tom Schneider, had a serious knee injury last season and will move to the role of offensive coordinator in 2014. Barthelmess talked with Schneider about the opportunity to play in 2014.

“At that point, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to do it because I’ve worked my butt off to get a math and economics degree,” Barthelmess said. “But I thought, 10 years down the road, am I going to regret not playing football in Europe. Two days later, I was back saying I was their guy.”

Barthelmess, who plans to return to Lawrence next year to finish his degree, brings an impressive list of personal achievements to Stuttgart. He ended his Lawrence career as the most prolific passer in school history and holds nearly every passing record.

Barthelmess completed 648 of 1,181 passes in his career and finished fourth in conference history with 8,190 passing yards. Barthelmess’ 62 touchdown passes ranks seventh in league history. Barthelmess wound up ninth in Lawrence history with 1,819 rushing yards.

“The main motivational thing was which decision was I going to regret, saying no to it or going for it,” said Barthelmess, who has never been to Europe.

With a roster that consists of players from NCAA Division down to Division III, Barthelmess said he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m going to get to be a great group of athletes, playing a sport I love, in a place I’ve never been before,” Barthelmess said. “There’s isn’t anything about this that doesn’t excite me.”

Record falls

Senior Brielle Bartes broke the school record in the weight throw at last Saturday’s dual meet at UW-Oshkosh. Bartes’ record throw of 38 feet, 10.5 inches, came minutes after teammate Genna Matt had broken her own record with a toss of 38-4.

Inside LU Athletics: Lawrence swimmers laying down the law

It sounds like a law firm — Winter, Gabriel, Flack, Cardinal and Witter.

This group of Lawrence University women’s swimmers has been laying down the law with the competition this season by making it very clear they are a force to be reckoned with.

Hannah Gabriel, Taylor Winter, Emily Flack, Hayley Cardinal and Paige Witter form the core of a very good Vikings squad, one that has high hopes as it hits the stretch run of the season. This fab five is powering the squad, according to Gabriel, the lone senior in this quintet.

“I do personally feed off the other swimmers on the team, and I’m sure that they would say the same thing,” Gabriel said. “You are always encouraged to have a healthy competition with your teammates as it helps you strive towards your personal best. Having a strong nucleus of swimmers is beneficial to any swim team, especially when it comes to having relays that are competing for the top spots in the conference.”

Gabriel, who is a two-time Midwest Conference champion in the 200-yard freestyle, said the team is working through the grind of January to get some really fast times next month.

“The last few weeks of the season are always difficult and gauging performance is not always easy, you just have to put your trust into all of the training accomplished over the course of the season,” Gabriel said. “I think that there will be some great performances by all members of the team as the season winds down, especially at the conference meet.”

Led by the core of the squad, Lawrence finished fourth last weekend at the tough University of Chicago Invitational. Lawrence coach Drew Fleek was buoyed by the results because the team is still slogging through a major workload as it edges closer to the end-of-season taper.    

“There’s really no surprise to how good they’ve been, but it’s a testament to the work they’ve put in,” Fleek said. “They all have a tremendous work ethic.”

Putting in that work and pushing each other is something Cardinal loves.   

“I really think that being able to swim with such amazing and talented swimmers has allowed me, and I’m sure everyone, to push themselves just that much further, not just in our specialty strokes but in events that we may not be as strong in,” said Cardinal, a sophomore.

“I know when someone else is having a good day at practice or drops time in a meet, I want to keep up with them and help the team succeed from whatever I can do as well. So I think it’s encouraging to see how strong our team is, and I’m always impressed by how my teammates perform. I can’t help but get excited for them for the team as a whole.”

This group of Vikings not only brings great talent but also great versatility to the pool. In Gabriel and Winter, they have former conference champions and two of the top freestylers in the league. Cardinal ranks first and third in the league in the two breaststroke events and is one of the best in the individual medley. Witter holds some of the top times in the league in the butterfly, and Flack could win both of the conference titles in the backstroke.

“We have somebody near the top in every specific stroke, and that is a huge benefit too because there is not any event where we’re weak. It also makes for great medley relays,” Fleek said. “All of them are pretty versatile. It makes for great relays and they can all train together and push each other in practice.”

The Vikings hope the countless hours in the pool, the friendly competition and daring to dream a bit will push them to great achievements over the next month. Lawrence travels to the Wisconsin Private College Championships later this month and then goes to the Midwest Conference Championships in mid-February.

“We definitely know that we can improve on last year and are confident we can compete with Grinnell and Lake Forest,” said Winter, a former league champ in the 500 freestyle. “The Chicago Invitational gave us confidence, and we want to build on that success going into Wisconsin Private College Championships and the Midwest Conference Championships next month.” 

Lawrence finished fourth at the MWC meet last season, with Grinnell, Lake Forest and Monmouth all finishing ahead of them. Fleek said his team was OK with that finish but not jumping up and down with glee. He would like to see this team, which is 5-0 in dual meets this season, pull itself closer to the league’s elite.

“I think at the beginning of the year our goal was to place one spot higher in the conference as a team. I think we have a great opportunity to do that,” Fleek said. “I think now our definite goal is to get third and compete for conference championships in some relays.”

Start the music

You can crank up the calliope music on Saturday because the circus comes to Alexander Gymnasium. The Grinnell men’s basketball team takes on Lawrence at 1 p.m.

Lawrence, which defeated Grinnell here last season, really needs a victory because the Vikings (5-7, 3-4 MWC) are on a three-game conference losing streak. Grinnell (11-2, 6-2) leads the nation in scoring at 129.2 points per game, and Jack Taylor leads the nation at 38.1 points per contest.

Starting stretch run

The Vikings have a home-and-home Northern Collegiate Hockey Association series with MSOE this weekend, and that starts a 10-game run of league games to finish the regular season. 

Lawrence (4-10-1, 3-5-0 NCHA) currently sits in seventh place with six points, but the Vikings are looking to creep up the standings. If Lawrence could move up to fourth place, the Vikings could host a quarterfinal playoff series.

Lawrence faces MSOE (1-12-1, 0-8-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Appleton Family Ice Center.

Inside LU Athletics: Barthelmess, Wagner to play in all-star game

Lawrence University football standouts Luke Barthelmess and Sam Wagner are set to play for Team Stars and Stripes in the fifth annual Tazon de Estrellas (Bowl of the Stars) on Dec. 21 in Monterrey, Mexico.

Barthelmess (Appleton, Wis./Principia School) and Wagner (Salem, Wis./Burlington Catholic Central) will be part of a team of 51 college seniors facing Mexico’s CONADEIP All-Stars in the 36,000-seat Estadio Tecnologico. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. and can be seen via webcast at www.terra.com.mx.

“I’m excited that Sam and Luke get this opportunity,” said Lawrence head coach Mike Barthelmess. “It’s something that they deserve, and the Lawrence football program is honored that they were invited to participate.”

This marks the second consecutive season that Lawrence has had a football player participate in a postseason all-star game. In December 2012, wide receiver Tyler Mazur took part in the All-American Bowl at the Metrodome and scored a touchdown for his squad.

Barthelmess ended his Lawrence career as the most prolific passer in school history and holds nearly every passing record. He completed 648 of 1,181 passes in his career and finished fourth in conference history with 8,190 passing yards. Barthelmess’ 62 touchdown passes ranks seventh in league history.

“Very excited for this opportunity,” Barthelmess said. “Sam and I will get to play with some of the most talented athletes in Division III on an international stage. I can’t think of a much better way to go out. Flying to Mexico to play a football game is not something you get to do every December. I can’t wait to head south to represent LU on Team Stars and Stripes.”

Barthelmess was chosen for the all-conference team this fall after completing 193 of 346 passes for 2,133 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished second in the league at 213.3 passing yards per game.

Barthelmess also ran 177 times for 889 yards and two touchdowns. Barthelmess, who averaged 5.0 yards per carry, finished eighth in the conference at 88.9 yards per game. He also finished first in the league in total offense at 302.2 yards per game. Barthelmess wound up ninth in Lawrence history with 1,819 rushing yards.

Wagner was chosen for the all-conference team for the second consecutive year as a standout defensive back, but he also saw significant action at wide receiver.

“It’s exciting to get another opportunity to represent the rich tradition of Lawrence football, especially on the international stage,” Wagner said. “The chance to play alongside a teammate in Luke will be very very special. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be awarded this opportunity, and I’m excited to cap off my collegiate career in this fashion.”

Wagner led the squad with 89 tackles, including 8.0 tackles for loss. Wagner, who finished fifth in the conference in tackles per game, also had one interception and six passes defensed. Wagner also finished with 23 catches for 435 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged an impressive 18.9 yards per catch.

Roubos selected

Freshman forward Blake Roubos has been named the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Offensive Player of the Week.

Roubos (Niagara Falls, Ontario) continued a strong start during his rookie season by piling up five points with two goals and three assists  in Lawrence’s 6-6 tie with Gustavus Adolphus College on Nov. 29. Playing in the NCHA-MIAC Thanksgiving Showdown, Roubos scored one goal and assisted on three more to help Lawrence build a 5-1 lead against the Gusties. Gustavus bounced back to take a 6-5 lead, but Roubos lifted his team in the final seconds of regulation. With an extra attacker on the ice, Roubos scored the game-tying goal with just nine seconds left to force overtime.

The five points ties for the fifth-highest game total in Lawrence history. Roubos also ran his consecutive games point streak to seven to start his career.

Solid start

The women’s basketball team stands at 2-2 after its first four games. That’s the first time the Vikings have split their first four games since the 2007-08 season.

Lawrence’s 80-29 win over Mount Mary University on Thursday marked its highest point total in a victory since the Vikings beat Knox College 81-77 on Dec. 13, 2011. The 29 points is the fewest scored by a Lawrence opponent since  the Vikings defeated Grinnell College 66-22 on Feb. 1, 2002.

Editor’s Note: Inside LU Athletics is a notes package written by Lawrence University Director of Athletic Media Relations Joe Vanden Acker. It will feature teams and individual players, recap weekly awards or highlights and take a look at what’s ahead for the Vikings.