Lakeland athletics: Winter 2008-09 season in review
Athletics - posted on 3/30/2009
As we enter the thick of the Muskie athletics spring season, let's take a look back at the 2008-09 winter season of sports at Lakeland College.
The Lakeland wrestling team, led by head coach Pete Rogers, continued its steady ascension as one of the nation's elite programs with a 21st-place finish at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Leading the way was junior heavyweight Adam Sutter, who finished sixth in the 285-pound division to become the second wrestler in Lakeland history to be an All-American. The Gladstone, Mich., native won three of his first four bouts to wrap up his spot among the top eight in the bracket. Sutter, who was chosen as a wild card into nationals, recorded a stellar 32-10 mark on the season.
Senior Jonas Flok (157 pounds) clinched a place in the national tournament after taking second at the Great Lakes Regional in Mequon. Flok, an Egg Harbor native, was 0-2 in Cedar Rapids, but finished his final collegiate season with a 27-13 record, including 17 pins.
The Muskies' fantastic season was also highlighted by a team championship at the Northern Wrestling Association tournament. Sutter, senior David Copp (125), freshman Rob Frias (133) and junior Ben Chapman (174) propelled Lakeland with first-place individual finishes.
Copp, who placed fifth at regionals, led the team in wins for the season with a 33-12 record and finished his Lakeland career with 97 wins. Senior Kory Thiel (141), an academic All-American, wasn't far behind with a 31-15 mark to end his Muskie campaign.
Seniors J.D. Sylvanus (9-13 record) and Everett Wood (7-13) also wrapped up their respective careers at Lakeland.
Other season highlights for Lakeland included a third-place finish at the Al Hanke Invite (Jan. 17) and an eighth-place finish at the 31-team Wheaton College-Pete Willson Invitational (Jan. 30-31).
The Lakeland women's basketball season saw its season end in disappointment with a 76-69 loss at Aurora in the quarterfinals of the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament, but not before the team posted a solid 17-9 (11-6 NAC) record for the season.
Head coach Teri Johnson's young team, which contained only one senior, won five games in a row on two different occasions during the year, but stumbled to a 2-4 finish over its final six games. Lakeland finished third in the NAC North Division.
Junior forward KC Blahnik received second-team All-NAC honors for the second straight season after averaging 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds, both team highs, for the year. The Gladstone, Mich., native started all 26 games and led the Muskies with 30.8 minutes per contest. Blahnik, who is also a member of the Lakeland softball team, emerged as a team leader and Johnson's most consistent offensive threat.
Players and coaches should also be excited about the rookie campaign of forward Autumn Gaylor. Gaylor, who was named to the league's All-Freshmen team, was the team's second-leading scorer with 9.1 points per game, and led the team with 16 blocked shots. The Ingleside, Ill., native made her presence felt in the lane with her size (6-foot-0) and athleticism.
The Muskies' lone senior, guard Kasey Gussert (Kingsford, Mich.), capped her four-year Lakeland career by tallying 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, including a solid .386 shooting percentage from 3-point range.
In his first year at the helm, head coach Aaron Aanonsen saw his Lakeland men's basketball squad tire down the stretch after a promising start.
The Muskies (10-15, 4-12) dropped 10 consecutive games to end their season after starting the year with a 10-5 mark.
With only one senior on the team, Aanonsen relied heavily on freshmen and sophomores to form the core of his rotation. Lakeland found itself a step behind the league's deeper, more experienced teams in late January and February, especially on the defensive end.
Freshman forward Jake Schwarz (Sheboygan) emerged as one of Lakeland's most consistent, reliable offensive threats. Schwarz led the Muskies with 16.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, which was fourth in the conference. He shot 53.8 percent from the field and a sterling 85.1 percent at the free-throw line. At 6-5, Schwarz proved he could score from anywhere out to 18 feet, not just from the blocks and in the lane.
Another freshman, point guard Josh Regal, busted onto the scene with a solid offensive arsenal. The Suring native, who was named to the league's All-Freshmen team along with Schwarz, thrived due to his solid ball-handling and ability to make plays off of ball screens. Regal averaged 15.6 points per game and led the team in minutes (33.2 per game), assists (84) and steals (27).
Senior forward Peter Worth (Sheboygan), whose season was cut short due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in late December, posted 6.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in nine games, all starts. As the team's lone senior and best defender, Worth was sorely missed during league play.
The Muskies finished fifth in the NAC North Division.
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