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Vikings’ Sienna Surber signs with Florida State to play Softball

jacobson1By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports

Okay, that did it…

The last-gasp winter snowstorm that rolled through Jackson this week – one that resulted in a temperature plunge of almost fifty degrees in forty-eight hours – finally pushed Jackson High senior Sienna Surber over the edge.

She has committed to playing college softball at powerful Florida State University in Tallahassee – and she’s excited to leave the harsh Michigan winters behind her.

“Oh, I’m used to them by now,” Sienna said. “But the Florida weather was definitely a factor in my decision.”

And it was a decision she never imagined making.

“When Florida State first contacted me I was a little confused,” she said. “I wasn’t sure they were actually talking to the right person. I had to tell (FSU Head Softball Coach) Lonnie Alameda , ‘hey, I’m Sienna Surber in Michigan. You realize that? Do you have the right person?”

But the Seminoles did indeed have the right person and all it took was one visit to the campus to convince Sienna she had found her collegiate home.

“I went to a softball camp there in December and I absolutely fell in love with the place,” Sienna said. “I fell in love with the campus and felt very comfortable with the coaching staff. It really did feel like home.”



Just to make sure she was making the right decision, she made a visit to North Dakota, as well, but that merely convinced her that heading south was the right call.

“Florida State is the place for me,” she said. “I’m very blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity because I committed late in my senior year. I’m very thankful that it worked out and excited for the next step.”

Still, taking this next step will mean a season of ‘lasts’ as a Jackson Viking.

“I don’t even want to think about it,” Sienna said. “When we played Western this year coach was saying ‘well, this is your last home opener as a Viking’ and I didn’t want to hear it. I’m a mess if I think about it too much.”

Oh, she’ll think about it more and more as the season rolls on and graduation approaches. Like any departing high school senior she’ll experience tears and hugs and a tinge of sadness as this chapter in her life closes. But that tinge of sadness will pass and those tears will dry in the warm Florida sun.

Albion’s Paul Lewis tabbed for MIAA track award

LewisP1Photo by Lowell McGinnis

Albion College distance runner Paul Lewis has been named the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Men’s Track Athlete of the Week in the wake of his performance during the league’s jamboree meet April 12.

A senior who prepped at Albion High School, Lewis won the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase by nearly 14 seconds in a time of 9:15.83, and finished second in the men’s 5,000-meter run in 15:04.18.

Cougar Golf takes second at SAU’s Spring Thaw at Warwick Hills CC

SAU logoGRAND BLANC, MI – The spring of 2014 for many sports has been struggle with the delays of getting fields ready and courses ready for play.  After having to cancel a home tournament at the Cascades Golf Course last week, the Cougars turned their focus to a tournament held at one of the stats of Michigan’s most famous venues.  On Monday, Spring Arbor University was afforded an opportunity to host the SAU Spring Thaw tournament at the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, the site of the discontinued PGA Tour’s Buick Open Championship.

When the teams arrived at the course in the early morning hours, they walked the hall of champions with the portraits of all the winners of the Buick Open, including Tiger Woods, Freddie Couples, Ben Crenshaw, Vijay Singh, and may others since the tournaments beginning in 1958 until its final year of 2009 with Woods lifting the trophy for the his third and final time.

In the collegiate tournament held Monday, the Cougars finished second of seven teams posting rounds of 325-316=641 in very windy conditions and weather that surrounded the area all day long.  SAU finished 13 shots behind Mount Vernon Nazarene University who shot 317-311=628

Spring Arbor was led by Nick Ward who opened the morning round with an 81 and the closed the tournament with an afternoon round with 76 for a 157 total and a spot on the Spring Thaw’s All-Tournament team.

Cody Lysher and Tyler Owen were next on the leaderboard for Spring Arbor as Lysher turned in rounds of 81-79=160, and Owen posting 76-84=160.  Chris Chaney carded rounds of 88-77-165 and Sean Sommerville completed the Cougar scoring with 87-87-174.

MVNU’s Charlie Phillips took the medalist plaque with very solid rounds of 75-72-147.

Albion College Men’s Track & Field Notes

ALMA, Mich. (April 12) – Vandercook Lake graduate Josh Lowe scored in three jumping events and Albion High School graduate Paul Lewis won the steeplechase as Albion College finished third in the men’s standings of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Track & Field Jamboree.

Lowe sailed 21’ 6” to win the long jump and he finished third in the triple jump (41’ 6 ½”) and high jump (clearing the bar at 6’ ¾”).

Lewis cruised to first place in the steeplechase, completing the race in 9:15.83 for a 14-second margin of victory. He also finished second in the 5,000 meters.

SAU Softball sweeps Siena Heights 11-8, 7-4

SAU logoADRIAN, MI – Spring Arbor softball returned to form on the offensive side on Wednesday afternoon against former WHAC foe, Siena Heights.  The Cougars took both games from the Saints 11-8, and 7-4 improving their season record to 15-15.

Spring Arbor pounded 11 hits in the first game with Liz Campeau, Savannah Weaver, and Alika Kingsbury leading the Cougars with two hits each.

The outlook of game one was bleak heading into the final inning with Siena Heights leading 8-4 when Spring Arbor bats exploded with seven hits and scoring seven runs to steal the game from the Saints.

The second game was cut short due to darkness with the Cougars once again taking advantage late in the game scoring one in the fourth inning and four more runs in the fifth and final inning to take the nightcap 7-4.

Spring Arbor will enjoy a much needed day off tomorrow after playing 12 games in eight available game days, but will resume play on Friday, April 11 against Mount Vernon Nazarene (12-10, 8-6).  The first game of the twin bill starts at 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon in Spring Abror.

Lumen Christi’s Khari Willis Named JTV Sports Player of the Year


By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports

When Lumen Christi Boys Basketball Coach Rich Karasek saw Khari Willis practicing as a freshman, he knew he was watching a unique talent.

“When I saw him working out as a freshman, I knew he would be something special,” Karasek said.

And Willis, JTV Sports Boys Basketball Player of the Year, is just that – even though his coach loses sight of him on the court sometimes.

“There will be times when I physically can’t see him,” Karasek said. “Khari is one of the best anywhere at driving to the basket, and there are times when he’ll drive into the lane amongst all those big guys and he’ll just disappear. Then the ball goes in the basket or he passes to a teammate for an open shot and I’ll find him again.”

Willis, one of the best on-ball man-to-man defensive players in the state, is the engine that drives the Titan machine. This year he averaged 14 points, almost 8 assists, 5 rebounds and nearly 3 steals a game for a Titans team that finished 23-2 with back-to-back conference and district championships. Lumen Christi spent several weeks this year as the number one ranked team in Class B and got knocked out in the regional championship game – in overtime – after Willis fouled out in regulation.

“Khari is always working,” Karasek said. “He’s always working to improve some area of his game, whether it’s his shooting or his defense. He sets the pace for us and controls the flow of the game and I expect he’ll be even better next year for his senior season.”

The Jackson area has seen some outstanding boys basketball players roll through over the years, but there may not be a better one than Khari Willis, recently named to the Boys Class B All-State team.

East Jackson’s Kassidy Blough named JTV Sports Player of the Year


By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports

When East Jackson Girls Basketball Coach Meeka Sova was asked to highlight a couple of big moments this year for junior guard Kassidy Blough – JTV Sports Girls Player of the Year – she didn’t know where to start.

  • Was it the night Kassidy hit a pair of free throws with three seconds left on the clock to beat Napoleon?
  • Was it the second game against Napoleon when she scored 29 points?
  • How about the night when she scored 35 in a game?
  • Or is it the fact Kassidy is the first Trojan girl’s player to score 1,000 points (she has 1,105 in her career) and she’s only a junior.

It’s all of the above, and yet it’s also none of it.

“What makes Kassidy so special is her understanding of the team,” Sova said. “She’s our quiet leader and she leads by example, but she knows so much of what she has accomplished is because of the players around her.”

Sova pointed to a game earlier in the year in which the media focus was entirely on Blough and her accomplishments that particular night. The junior guard, however, wanted nothing to do with that.

“Kassidy wanted to make sure her teammates got the attention they deserved for helping her,” Sova said. “I think that’s what makes her so special.”

And special she is – just as the entire Trojans team was this year. East Jackson (18-5) won the Cascades Conference and Class C District Championships with Blough averaging nearly 21 points, 5 assists and 4 steals a game.

A special player on a special team.

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