Harper's Hellweg, Nishibun net All-American honors
The awards keep piling up for the Harper College women's soccer and volleyball programs after their successful fall seasons.
Last Friday the NJCAA announced the NJCAA Division III All-American teams in those sports.
Freshman volleyball standout Erinn Hellweg (Wauconda) was named first-team All-American, and sophomore Bree Nishibun (Fremd) was named to the first team women's soccer squad.
Racking up postseason achievements is nothing new for the outside hitter. Hellweg had already earned three postseason honors — all-North Central Community College Conference first team, NJCAA Division III all-region team and Region IV all-tournament team. The freshman led Harper to the NJCAA Region IV championship game, where the Hawks fell to eventual national champion Rock Valley College (25-16, 25-18, 25-19).
The 6-foot-1 Hellweg amassed 382 kills in 127 sets for coach Bob Vilsoet's club. She chipped in on defense as well with 53.5 blocks and 357 digs to go with a stellar 91 percent serve percentage.
"This award for Hellweg was well deserved," Vilsoet said in a statement.
Nishibun guided the Hawks to a sixth-place finish at the NJCAA Division III national tourniment. She missed some time early in the season with a concussion.
"She's a great leader — her work rate was there," said coach Dwayne Cruz.
Nishibun was also a member of the all-region team.
The Harper wrestling program continues its legacy of success trough the first four tournaments of the season. The Hawks are ranked fourth nationally in this week's NJCAA poll.
"Some of the guys are wrestling tough," said Harper coach Dan Loprieno. "We have been competing (with the Division I, II and III schools on the schedule)."
The strength for the Hawks' lineup are the lower weight classes. Loprieno says that's where he has a lot of veterans competing.
"We have some good leaders," he said. "Good things are in our future."
One key for Harper is Josh Tardy (Naperville Centeral). He's currently ranked seventh nationally at 141 pounds. In three tournaments this season, Tardy has finished no worse than third.
At 157 pounds, Steven Dewitt is also making his mark. Dewitt placed second at the Wisconsin-Stevens Point meet and third at Coe College (Iowa).
Kalvin Argueta (Barrington, 184 pounds) also is off to a fast start, finishing fourth at the Hawks' first meet of the season at Loras College (Iowa) and also fourth at Stevens Point.
Two newcomers that are holding up their end of the bargain are Larry Carter and Blake Santi (Lake Park).
"He's doing awesome; he's leading the freshman class," Loprieno said of Santi.
Santi has wrestled at two weight classes this season. After starting the season wrestling at 149 pounds, last week he competed at 141.
There are still some questions with the lineup, and Loprieno is hoping the freshman class can help out with them.
"The answers are there," said Loprieno.
Larry Carter competes at 285 pounds and has gone 7-6. Two other wrestlers of note are Cody Brandle (Glenbard North) and Donnie Simpson.
Simpson is the second-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds. He finished third in last week's tournament at Wisconsin-Parkside. Brandle also placed at the Stevens Point meet.
This week the Hawks travel to Triton College for the Art Kraft Memorial Open.
"All of this is preparation for where we want to be in two months," Loprieno said.
The Kraft tournament helps determine each wrestler's seeding for the regional tournament on Feb. 10.
"We will figure out pretty quickly where we stand," Loprieno said. "If guys wrestle well, that will help their seeds."
Including Simpson, who is ranked second at 149 pounds, and Tardy.
Zach Hummel (133) and Charles Argue (184) are ranked second in their respective weight class.
She got game:
The women's basketball program continues to make gains under second-year coach Nicole Jones. Through the team's first four games, the Hawks are 2-2.
"We are ahead of schedule," Jones said of the program's rebuilding effort.
It hasn't all been smooth sailing. Tuesday's game against the Robert Morris JV was canceled, denying the Hawks a chance to put into play what they're practicing.
"We really have some confidence and trust issues," Jones said.
Jones has one big bulding block in freshman center Monica Hinderer.
The Hawks have scored 228 points this season, and 79 of them (34 percent) have come from Hinderer.
On Nov. 27, she scored a career-high 33 points agaisnt College of Lake County.
Jones would like to see the guard play improve, and she's hoping better defense can lead to easy scoring opportunities.
"If we stop the other team, we can score," Jones said.
The Hawks are scheduled to host Elgin Comunity College at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Former Harper football coach Eric Waldstein found himself in a bit of transition when the school canceled its football program last winter.
Waldstein scrambled and made the transition to Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., where he just completed his first season as defenseive cordinator. Waldstein estimates the enrollment at the Catholic school at around 470 students. Waldstein was interviewed around the July 4 holiday and was added to the coaching staff the following week.
"It was a fast turnaround" he said. "I really wanted to get back coaching defense."
The team completed the program's second season with a 3-7 record at the NCAA Division III level.
Next year, the Saints will become an NAIA member due to a lack of NCAA Division III schools in the Dakotas.
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