Freshmen Athletes Make Their Presence Known

Freshmen Athletes Make Their Presence Known

by Bryan Geelan and Brandon OrtaleStaff Writers

When classes started this fall, 412 full-time freshmen students stepped onto the campus of Simpson College for the first time. Beyond adjusting to the new lifestyle college provides, nearly one-quarter of these students will be entering a new arena that challenges them not only mentally but physically as well.

Every year, student-athletes make the transition from high school athletics to the collegiate level. The change is not an easy one to make. Many athletes won’t find themselves breaking into the starting lineup immediately, nor do they expect to.

From the court, to the course, to the gridiron, the freshman class of 2006 is doing its best to buck that trend.

Freshmen Tara Christensen, who has been playing volleyball since fourth grade and is now starting for the Storm, remembered being nervous before the season started.

“I didn’t know what to expect, and I had to get used to the practices and the team,” Christensen said.

According to Christensen, however, everyone on the team gets along and is friendly.

“We support one another, and we are a close-knit team,” Christensen said.

Freshmen Golfers Megan Smith and Katie Vaux helped lead the Storm to a second place finish at the Luther Invitational on Sept.16, beating Wartburg College, a team that finished the 2005-2006 season at No. 4 in the nation, by 11 strokes.

For her efforts in both the Luther and Loras Invitationals, Smith was named the Iowa Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week for the week ending Sept. 17.

“The freshmen have good swings and strike the ball well,” Head Coach Bob Darrah said. “They have really sparked us.”

Rookies have helped the men’s team on the links as well. Freshmen Brett DeNeve, Jordan Angell and Mark Creveling have all had varsity spots during the season. Creveling was the medalist for the Storm at the Simpson Invite.

Freshman Doug Reyes has teamed up with classmate Ryan Laffey to break into the starting lineup on the football team, both as offensive linemen.

According to Jay Niemann, the Storm’s head football coach, freshmen typically don’t play a lot unless they prove they can start.

“They are the best at the position, so they start and are able to contribute right away,” Niemann said.

The cross country teams may be experiencing the biggest freshman contribution of all. Freshmen Tyler Jordinson and Casey Dunning have positioned themselves as the No. 2 and 3 runners, respectively, for the men’s team. Dunning has experienced success despite this being only his second season of competitive cross country.

“He went out for cross country to get in shape for (high school) wrestling, and found out that he was pretty good,” said Todd Deely, head cross country coach.

In their first meet, Jordinson placed 15th and Dunning came in at 30th. Two other freshmen, Eric Patten and Baron Davis, were right behind Dunning.

On the women’s side, 12 of 17 team members are freshmen. Behind Jen Wendt, the next seven runners are freshmen, including Simpson’s No. 2 runner, Jess Christensen.

“I came in with no expectations,” Christensen said. “As a freshman, I thought I’d just take it as it comes and look forward to getting better. I’ve been surprised with myself so far.”

Right behind Christensen is her teammate, roommate and classmate, freshman Sarah Hammel. Hammel runs in the No. 3 spot for the Storm.

“There really isn’t any competition between us,” Christensen said. “You just have to do your part and know everyone else will do theirs.”

In anticipation of the new courts being built, the men’s tennis team has been able to enjoy the performance of freshmen Tim Claussen and Kyle Schilling away from campus. According to Head Coach Bob Nutgrass, they have adapted to college tennis under the tutelage of the veterans on the team.

“The group of guys we have are real good about teaching,” Nutgrass said. “They do a good job of helping the younger guys. They understand it will make us a more solid team.”

Last, but not least, is the men’s soccer team. Head Coach Mike Wilson described the three main starters, freshmen Corey Miller, Connor Skultety and Josh Youngman, as important players in different ways.

“Overall they (the freshmen) are a shot in the arm, because they bring energy and give the team quality minutes,” Wilson said. “Freshmen give depth and energy with their love to play, and they challenge the older teammates.”