By Mike Deak
WARSAW – It’s been good to be at full speed again.
Sports in the area have gone back to normal in Kosciusko County and the surrounding areas. A year ago, nearly all of the 2020 annual events were either canceled or altered to a point of unrecognizable measures. Road races went virtual in 2020, All-Star games went dark, tournaments were ‘postponed until 2021’.
This feature is set to bring to light some of the individual achievements from the area from a busy summer.
Way back in June, both Kam Salazar and Sergio Lira Ayala were involved with the IHSBCA North-South All-Star Game in Evansville. Salazar, a Wawasee graduate, had four hits in the three-game, two-day exhibition showcase. Salazar also scored a pair of runs and had a pair of stolen bases among his work. Lira Ayala, a NorthWood grad, had a hit and a run scored in the third game and added a stolen base in game two.
The South All-Stars won all three games, taking the series 5-3, 7-6 and 7-5, the third game a wood bat exhibition.
More diamond action this summer had seven teams hoist their rewards as champions of their respective age divisions at the Warsaw and Wawasee little leagues. At Warsaw, championships were won by the Minor League Dodgers, the Junior Cubs, the Intermediate Tigers and the Machine Pitch Diamondbacks. At Wawasee, championships were won by the Minor League Marlins, the Major League Dodgers and Thunder softball club.
Another note from the leagues, the Warsaw Little League 8-10 All-Stars won Districts and will head to Broad Ripple to begin the state tournament starting today, Wednesday, July 21.
The Attack 13U baseball team brought home a tournament title in late June, running undefeated at the Indiana USSSA State Baseball Tournament.
The Attack, comprised of players from in and around Warsaw, won all six of their games played at Center Grove Little League and the Midwest Sports Complex in Indianapolis. Day one and two had the Attack win its three games by a 21-5 aggregate, escaping Newburgh 6-5 in its only Saturday contest.
On Sunday, the Attack beat the Indiana Black Sox 7-1 and HBC 13-2 to advance to the championship. In the final against the Royals Blue from Fishers, Carson Paulik had a monster game, cracking a double and homer, driving in two and scoring twice as the Attack won 7-4. Paulik also got the win on the hill, working four innings, giving up three hits and fanning six. Maddox Moon closed the door, working the final three innings.
For the entire summer to date, the Attack are 45-13-1 dating back to its first games in March.
Also in June, the Special Olympics of Kosciusko County competed in the State Games in Terre Haute. The team took part in three events: track and field, bocce and bowling. Among the results for K-County were Brian Bierly, who was first in softball throw, 10M unassisted walk and 25M unassisted walk in the track events. Lori Keifer, Cheryl Lewis and Shannon Middaugh also acquired first-place ribbons in the track and field section. 100-meter awards went to Christina Messer, Sabrina Turner, Kevin McPeak, Amy Philson, Morgan Swafford and Timothy Warner-Guile.
Jacob Green added tops in javelin and 100 meters.
Mike Parker and Jerry Davis took first in bocce, and in bowling, Ruby French and Gale Vanator were first and Elizabeth Wabol and Marti Sullivan were runner-ups.
Battling through the raindrops in Winona Lake in late June, the Warsaw Optimist Triathlon resumed action on the streets of Winona Lake, Warsaw and Pierceton after taking a year off to run virtually in 2020.
Some familiar names aligned the top of the leaderboard once again, as Ben Stone reclaimed his perch with a championship finish of 56:04. The dominance of Stone was evident as the runner-up, Davon Geiger, was over seven minutes behind at 1:03:21. Dustyn Shrock was third at 1:04:34.
Top female from the event was Sara Randolph, who was 12th overall with a time of 1:10:49. Ann Barker was the runner-up female at 1:17:16.
The triathlon had all sorts of categories for competitors, which results can be had for them at this link.
Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, My Team Triumph held its annual Firecracker 5K in Winona Lake on July 3. The event, centered around the doings of My Team Triumph and its mission to make running 5Ks an inclusive opportunity, saw over 100 runners take to the course.
Overall winner for the trip around the Lake trails was Jackson Burnett, finishing at 17:49. Cole Dolson was five seconds behind as runner-up and Michael Humphrey was third at 18:04. Top female for the race was Melonie Gackenheimer, who completed the course at 21:57 with Ellie Snep the second female home at 22:04. The two ladies were eighth and ninth overall, respectively.
A week later at the Run 4 Bre event in Bourbon, the celebration of the late Breanna Lemler is still alive and well with friends and family who came together to hit the streets in her honor.
In the 5K race, Trey Hall led the way with a 17:49, David Dodd the runner-up crossing the line a full minute later at 18:49. Justine Faulkner was third at 19:50, representing the top female. Danita Keirn was the second female over at 24:38.
In the half marathon race in Bourbon, TG Garcia won with a time of 1:18:39, trailed by Michael Haschel at 1:28:55 and Scott Smith at 1:29:42. Ella Knight was the top female at 1:57:07.
Wawasee junior Kiah Farrington won a title at the Indiana State Junior Open tennis tournament in Indianapolis. Farrington won all four of her matches in the 16U bracket of the USTA tournament held at North Central High School. Farrington started her tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 win against Marisa Morwick, then won a tiebreaker, 10-7, to beat Anna Whale after splitting the first two sets 4-6, 6-1.
In the semi-finals, Farrington rallied to beat Mia Tobias 6-7 (4), 7-5, 10-1, but composed herself for a 6-3, 7-5 championship against Abigail Cruser.
A handful of area boys were also active at Wildwood Racquet Club in Fort Wayne for a USTA tournament the same weekend. Tristan Anderson won the 16U tournament, winning three matches including a 6-4, 6-3 final against Seth Keana. Syracuse’s Holden Babb lost a match to Ethan Koeneman, the match in a 10-8 third-set tiebreaker in the 18U bracket. Incoming Wawasee freshman Joseph Harper beat Brody Blume love and love in the first round, but fell to eventual champion Evan Knapp two and four in the next round. In the same bracket, Warsaw’s Edward Grandon lost to Connor Cook in straights.
Out of the area, Ellie Hepler had a monster tournament at the AAU Nationals with her Boiler Juniors volleyball. The team had already won four tournaments in 2021 heading into the late June outfit in Florida, and came out first place among two dozen teams from around the country. Hepler, the daughter of Warsaw volleyball head coach Chandra Hepler, was named an AAU All-American as the Juniors came out on top. Through June, the Boiler Juniors, which Chandra Hepler is a coach along with John Shondell, were 69-15 in competition matches, an 82-percent win percentage against national competition.
Incoming Warsaw freshman Daihya Chupp also had a big weekend at Nationals, placing third for Team Pineapple in their age division.