Simpson sports – the best of the winter plays

Basketball, wrestling, indoor track and swimming are already behind us as it seems it was just November yesterday and now we are ushering out spring break 2015.

With that, it’s best that the finest moments of Simpson College athletics over the winter seasons be honored in this, arbitrary and up for debate Top 10-

1. Feb. 21 vs. Loras – Charles Swain swishes for 1,000 points

It was senior night and Charles Swain needed 15 more points to become the 19th Simpson basketball player to score 1,000 points. With 5:28 to go in the game, Swain swished a 3-pointer for the milestone, landing exactly on the number.

“While we were discouraged at the half, and you can quote me on this, his girlfriend Taylor told me to keep the faith down to the very last second, and we did,” Swain’s mother, Filishia said. “He and us as a family have been through a lot and we are so proud of him.”

2. Feb. 7 vs. Buena Vista – Swank wins the battle on the mat and with compartment syndrome

After not wrestling the entire season due to compartment syndrome in his leg, sophomore Shane Swank decided to wrestle against Buena Vista University, filling in for an injured Brian Haynes.

Not only is this a performance hindering injury, wrestling with compartment syndrome can result in death. Swank didn’t care, winning his match, 6-3 as Simpson won their first conference dual in 12 matches.

“I was not expecting to wrestling tonight but I just have to overcome my fear and help my team,” Swank said. “I had to get my leg heated and taped up because I have this condition, but it feels good to get a win and I was happy to get on the mat.”

3. Jan. 21 vs. Luther College – Brittany Hedrick bank at the buzzer

Simpson was down, 78-75 to a then 14-1 Luther College program sitting at the top of the IIAC. With time expiring, sophomore Brittany Hedrick put up a leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer, banking the shot in as time expired, sending the game into overtime.

Simpson would then take the game, 88-81 in the overtime period as Simpson won one of the most memorable games of the season.

“Buzzer beater wise that was probably the best moment of the season,” teammate Maddie Muhlenbruck said. “Banking in that shot at the buzzer was just absolutely crazy.”

4. Jan. 10 – Gretzky to Dafney game winner over Buena Vista

Down 62-61 with just 4.6 seconds remaining on the clock and Simpson with ball, head coach Charles Zanders drew up a play for Simpson to hopefully steal a win against the projected, first place Buena Vista Beavers.

Dillon Gretzky was given the ball under the Beavers’ hoop and was set to lob it up to DJ Dafney streaking in the lane for the layup.

The play was drawn up, looked to be botched at first but ended up working out as the two connected and the shot rolled in for the win.

“They brought a 6’7” guy on my so I just took a step back to give myself space,” Gretzky said. “I didn’t think about throwing any particular pass, I just threw it up there and knew he’d get it.”

5. Feb. 22 – Freshman Kalinay gets IIAC track athlete of the week

Not many track athletes get IIAC Performer of the week honors in their careers in the IIAC. Freshman Dylan Kalinay did so in his season with Simpson, running a conference-best time in the 60-meter hurdles at the UNI Dome Invitational.

Kalinay scampered across the line in a best, 8.33 time in the prelims, 20th in all of Division III.

6. Feb. 13 – McKim defends his own title

Junior Kyle McKim won his second consecutive, Iowa Conference crown in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.30 in the finals after breaking his own personal record with a time of 1:00.20 in the prelims.

“It’s nice to be validated because we don’t always get our times throughout the season so to get one meet and one shot and do well is nice,” McKim said.

7. Jan. 24 – Johnston with the emphatic pin to win

Losing weight is hard for anyone to do, let alone losing weight while getting up at 5:30 to do hours of cardio, all in preparation for a wrestling invitational later that day.

Zach Johnston didn’t seem to be affected to much though.

Despite trailing for much of the match and being in danger of a pin at the hands of Coe College’s, Mike Gussarson, Johnston had a enough heart to erase the mental hill of a 14-7 deficit.

34 seconds into the third period, a mentally and physically exhausted Johnston flipped a switch and pinned Gussarson in one of the most exciting matches of the season.

“Zach is one of those guys that is just dangerous,” head coach Nate Hansen said. “If you knew what his day was like you wouldn’t believe it. It began at 5 a.m. and I think I’ll be telling the story of his day for the rest of my coaching career. Let’s just say he was cutting weight. But, he got stronger as the day went on and got it done.”

8. Feb. 18 – Dafney dunks on Coe

DJ Dafney finds himself in the top 10 plays of the winter again here at #8 for his breakaway one-handed slam against Coe College in the second half of what would be an overtime loss to the Kohawks at home.

Dafney at 6’2” went way up with strength and athleticism throwing down a lefty dunk in the midst of a Simpson run.

9. Dec. 3 – Maddie Muhlenbruck silences Grand View on last second lay-in

Up 80-77 with three seconds left in the game, Grand View University’s, Emily Bell hit a 3-pointer to tie the game up at 80-80.

Simpson didn’t have time to pout and thankfully they didn’t as Whitney Van Wyk found Maddie Muhlenbruck going the other way, connecting with the junior from Ankeny for a last second layup to give Simpson a two-point lead.

Muhlenbruck would hit two more free throws as Grand View also committed an intentional foul on the play, and it’s good that she did as Grand View responded with another 3-pointer as Simpson escaped from Des Moines with a 84-83 win.

“They made a 3 to tie it up and they were celebrating,” Muhlenbruck said. “I  just was running down the floor, realized nobody was on me and I was like, ‘Whitney!’ who then passed it to me and I got a layup and an ‘and-one’ in additional to an intentional foul.They were down by 18 but kept hitting threes and then it became a really close game. It was fun.”

10. Feb. 12 – Haag puts an end to Simpson record

Junior Tori Haag, known more for her softball catching in her first two years at Simpson, put on the swimming gear for her junior year and ended up setting a record at the end of it.

On day one at the Liberal Arts Championships, Haag broke a Simpson record that had lasted for 13 years in the 200 IM, swimming the race in 2:20.76, placing 12th in the meet.

She shattered the previous record, 2:23.93, held by Elisabeth Nims in ’02.

If you disagree with this list, don’t hesitate to send in your opinions, and stay tuned for what’s up in the spring edition of the top 10 plays.