WARSAW – We wrap up our All-IFN Top 10 athletes with our run up through the top five, culminating with our IFN Athlete of the Year. Our choice for the 2018-19 season, NorthWood senior Bronson Yoder, not only impacted his sports locally, but was among the top four football players in the state of Indiana. Ironically, his absence from the Panther boys track team at the sectional showed just how valuable he was. We salute Bronson and all of our selections for a fantastic athletic campaign.
5. Little Brother Emerges — Tucked in the shadow of big brother and last year’s IFN Athlete of the Year, Elisha Tipping, Isaiah firmly emerged as a standout in his own right over his senior season. The younger Tipping was one of a few bright spots as a lineman for the Warriors during a difficult football season in the fall, then was a key ingredient in Wawasee wrestling’s continued success this past winter. He collected more than 20 wins at 220 pounds on his way to a Plymouth Sectional runner-up finish and berth at the Penn Regional. But he saved his best performance for the spring season when he established himself as one of the state’s preeminent throwers, a season that garnered the attention of Marian University, where he’ll throw next year. Tipping won himself the Northern Lakes Conference title in the shot put with a throw more than seven feet better than the rest of the field, leading into a runner-up finish at the Goshen Sectional followed by a championship at the Kokomo Regional the following week and an eventual 10th-place performance at the event at the state finals in Bloomington. No slouch in the classroom either, Tipping earned himself Academic All-State honors in each of his three sports, finishing with an 11.04 GPA and ranked 16th in his class.
4. Somewhat Of A Strange Tripp – A decision in the offseason afforded Tippecanoe Valley junior Tanner Trippiedi a very unique chance to lead his school in a completely different way. Deciding not to return as the varsity tackle football quarterback, Trippiedi was recruited to play quarterback for the brand new Valley Unified Football team. Without much expectation, the speedy and shifty Trippiedi saw himself and his Viking mates winning a sectional title, then hosting a regional in a driving rainstorm against Griffith. The dual threat Trippiedi helped Valley to a 30-12 win and a state berth in the inaugural season of Unified Football. Valley would knock off Noblesville in the semi-final, but run into a buzzsaw against Bedford North Lawrence in the championship in a 50-26 loss. Fast forward to March, and Trippiedi and Valley found themselves in another championship celebration, this time as kings of the Wawasee Boys Basketball Sectional after beating the host Warriors, bringing a sectional trophy to Akron for the first time since 2013. Trippiedi was a key contributor for the Vikings during the season, tossing in 10 points and four rebounds per night and garnering All-TRC honors. Trippiedi was one of the focal points of the Viking baseball team this spring, helping the Vikings to the sectional semi-finals and posting a .316 batting average along with eight steals.
3. Wild Horses — At various points in his running career, Luke Griner has been referred to as either a “wild pony” or a “machine”. Early in his running career at Wawasee, Griner’s unbridled talent and competitive spirit earned him some impressive accolades. But a more seasoned runner gradually emerged over his junior and senior years, and he proved himself to be one of his school’s all-time best. A state qualifier in cross country as well as track as junior, nagging injuries over the fall of his senior year prevented Griner from returning to the XC state meet, but he claimed his third straight Kokomo Regional title in the 800 meters on his way to a second-straight podium finish at the state track and field finals. The West Point recruit hit his splits with mostly machine-like efficiency and an impassive expression over his final high school track season, but he retained the wild, competitive spirit of his early career on the rare occasions he was pushed. Already the owner of his school’s half-mile record following a 1:53.95 stop during a Northern Lakes Conference meet back on April 24, Griner shattered that mark at state with a 1:52.89 performance that earned him fourth place among the state’s elite.
2. Jumping On The Sophie Buss – Sophie Bussard’s contributions to Tippecanoe Valley were immeasurable over her four-year career. Her senior season was something special. Beginning with volleyball, Bussard left her mark not only in leadership, but on the record board. Bussard set a mark no one has ever done at Valley, becoming the only player to achieve 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. Her 1,000th kill put her as the only Viking to ever reach that level, passing Caylie Teel along the way as the top kill specialist in program history. The All-Three Rivers Conference First Teamer concluded with 1,075 kills and 1,014 digs in her career. Her much anticipated final year with the Valley basketball program had Bussard put together one of the top seasons of any player in the state – scoring 21.3 points per game to finish 19th in the state in scoring average- and doing most of that battling through double and triple-team defenses. The Southeast Missouri State commit also finished with 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.9 assists per night, her steals and rebounds totals putting her among the top 100 in the state. Those figures afforded her plenty of postseason accolades, including All-TRC, Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60, IFN Player of the Year, IBCA All-State Honorable Mention and a McDonald’s Michiana All-Star. Wrapping up her final semester in Akron, Bussard decided to run track for the first time and concluded her high school career with a top-three in both the 400 dash and 4×400 relay at the TRC Championships and a regional appearance in the 4×400 relay.
1. Catch Him If You Can – Bronson Yoder spent most of his senior year running away from people. And was very good at it. His football season at NorthWood was spent running for nearly 3,000 yards and becoming a Mr. Football finalist. He also sprinted and jumped to an elite level with the Panther track team in the spring before an injury derailed him in the sectional. Despite that, Yoder is our IFN Player of the Year.