WARSAW – For our seventh year, we had quite a battle for No. 1 in both the individual and team races for our All-Ink Free News selections. All three seasons provided some quality teams and even better individuals among the 22 varsity sports to choose from. We start off today with our first five teams working our way to our No. 1 selection. Let’s dig into some of the best teams from our coverage year.
10. Youth Movement — With such a young roster, few onlookers might have expected the kind of finish Warsaw’s boys golf team achieved. But the Tigers always knew what they were capable of, and they broke through at the right time to make a run to the state finals. A young lineup that featured just one senior in Chase Byron started to find consistency at the start of its Northern Lakes Conference schedule and just kept getting better and better. After splitting NLC co-championship honors with Plymouth, the Tigers went on a tear through the IHSAA state tournament, carding a pair of 318s during the sectional and regional rounds of the series at Rozella Ford and Swan Lake, respectively. They took a small step back on the big stage of the state finals at Prairie View but still managed to tally a two-day total of 671 for a 14th-place result, led by freshman Cal Hoskins’ 156 for 31st place individually — the top finish of any frosh at the meet. And with everyone but Byron expected back next season, the future of Warsaw golf is looking awfully bright for years to come.
9. Panthers On The Verge – NorthWood just ran into a better team that day. That was a roundabout way coach Tif Schwartz summed up what happened to her girls tennis team after losing in the finals to rival Concord at the Elkhart Central Girls Tennis Regional for a second year in a row. It was the third time NorthWood had fallen short to the Minutemen this season, once in round robin play and also in the aggregate standings of the Northern Lakes Conference Championships, to which the Panthers placed third as a team. But that didn’t sour or sully what the Panthers have built. The team won 12 dual matches during the season, and claimed its third straight sectional championship and fifth overall after disposing of Goshen, 3-1. NorthWood made its second straight regional final after putting away Angola 4-1 in the regional semis. Individually, Reegan Miller and Alex Jesse earned All-NLC honors and Miller later went on to earn Academic All-State, All-District, Honorable Mention All-State and North-South All-Star awards for her work on and off the court. The singles trio of Miller, Jesse and Gretchen Adams won a combined 53 dual matches, Adams herself won 18 of 20 contests at No. 3 singles. Schwartz was also named the District 2 Coach of the Year by her peers in the IHSTECA.
8. Last Dance — The 2019 football season may have ended up being the last for Triton head coach Ron Brown, but his Trojans sent him off with a season to remember. The Trojans posted a school-record 9-4 finish and earned their program its first sectional title in a decade with a 29-17 win in the Class A Sectional 41 championship game at North Judson-San Pierre in November. It would’ve been two-way lineman Cam Scarberry’s senior season with the team if his life had not been tragically cut short by a car accident midway through the 2017 season, and Scarberry’s teammates honored him with their school’s first football sectional championship since 2008 and just the program’s third such championship of all time. A cast loaded with senior talent continued to put up lofty offensive numbers for Triton on the way to that title as James Snyder threw for 1,771 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, Tye Orsund and Delano Shumpert hauled in a combined 64 receptions for 703 and 651 yards, respectively, and the Trojans’ balanced rushing attack was split evenly between Hunter McIntyre’s 414 yards, Shumpert’s 391 run yards, Ethan Berry’s 332 yards and another 328 from Snyder. Although the team eventually ran into a buzz saw in regional action opposite Pioneer — which finished off a second straight perfect, 15-0 season last fall — the 2018 Trojans’ veteran lineup definitely made the most of its last chances.
7. Turnaround — A little past the midpoint of the 2018-19 season, Tippecanoe Valley’s boys basketball team was sitting at 7-8, had lost two straight and five of its last seven games. Second-year head coach Chad Patrick had almost written the season of as a rebuilding year, but the Vikings’ senior cast had other ideas. Parkur Dalrymple, Wes Melanson, Jalen Shepherd and Cam Parker really began gelling, Valley picked it up in both the rebounding and defensive departments, and Tippy turned it around with wins in eight of its next nine contests to capture Patrick his first sectional championship in the head coaching role and the program’s first in six seasons. That title run included a Sectional 21 semifinal reprisal of NorthWood, which had handed the team a 51-45 defeat roughly two weeks prior, the only loss by the Vikings in that late span. Melanson put up 17 points in that victory, Dalrymple notched 16 the following night in a 43-31 championship win over host Wawasee, and the Vikings’ seniors just found ways to get it done during their title run. Of course, they got help from junior point guard Tanner Trippiedi, junior Jace Potter and a host of Valley role-players, but the team’s turnaround was largely due to an increased sense of urgency from its upperclassmen. The Vikings eventually fell in the Marion Regional semifinals to then-27-0 Delta, but their final 15-10 record represented fully three times their win total from the previous season.
6. Feels Like The First Time – Lakeland Christian Academy didn’t have a plethora of teams to make a splash this past school year. It’s girls soccer program, however, created waves in a historical sense. The soccer team became the first team at LCA to win an IHSAA sectional in any sport, working its way through the Westview Girls Soccer Sectional, knocking off the hosts, 4-2, in the championship. In getting there, the team developed a trio of scorers in Anna Reimink, Tori Calizo and Jessi Calizo, who together hung numbers comparable to the elite in the state. Tori Calizo scored a whopping 32 goals this season, putting her 16th in the state in that category. Reimink and Jessi Calizo both finished with 25 tallies, getting them within the top 35 as goal scorers. The dream ride, which had the team win a program-best 14 matches, saw that carpet come crashing down to earth when No. 1 Wheeler mauled the Cougars in the LaVille Regional, 7-2. The team will lose some key cogs in Reimink, keeper Maddie Paris, defenders Carly O’Hara and Carli Wise along with midfielder Lauren Starrett, but will return both Calizo sisters and a capable supporting cast. And Wheeler, which made the state finals for a second straight year, moves up to Class 2-A.
Honorable Mention (in alphabetic order): NorthWood Boys Track; NorthWood Girls Soccer; Tippecanoe Valley Football; Tippecanoe Valley Unified Football; Triton Boys Golf; Warsaw Boys Basketball; Warsaw Boys Soccer; Warsaw Football; Warsaw Girls Tennis; Wawasee Softball