ON CAMPUS: UNC's Henderson happy with medal, but had higher expectations
Evan Henderson fully expected to be back at the NCAA Championships this season as a sophomore. Truth be told, he expected to bring back a gold medal to campus, but he’ll take what he got.
A native of Clyde and a wrestler at the University of North Carolina, Henderson capped his sophomore season Saturday with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Division I Championships.
With that placement, he earned All-America status as a top-eight finisher, becoming the Tar Heels’ first All-America selection since 2005.
“I wanted to be on top of the podium, but things happen,” Henderson said via phone this week. “I never doubted myself that I could be at the top of the podium, but it didn’t work out. It was just (a matter of) putting in the time and going for it.”
Two weeks before the NCAAs, Henderson captured the Atlantic Coast Conference individual title at 141 pounds, the first ACC title for the Tar Heels in two seasons.
A Kiski School graduate who began his career at United, Henderson earned the top seed in his weight class at the ACC Championships with an undefeated record in conference dual-meet competition, and he needed only to win two matches to capture his first conference title.
“I expected to win that,” he said. “I expected nothing less. It was good for our program to have an ACC champ. There was a little bit of expectations there, and I’m happy I came through. I wasn’t surprised. I was happy with my performance there.”
He didn’t sound quite as thrilled about his showing at the NCAA Championships.
Henderson entered as the No. 5 seed in his weight class and rolled through the first day of competition, pinning his first opponent before winning by major decision in the second round.
He lost in the quarterfinals to Edinboro’s Mitchell Port but won his next two consolation matches to assure himself a top-eight finish and All-America status before even taking the mat on the third day of the championships.
“I’m happy to be an A-A,” Henderson said. “I was really happy in the round of 12 when I won against Joey Lazor (from Northern Iowa). When I pinned him in the first period, and I knew I reached All-American, I was pretty pumped.
“After that it was get as high as I can get. I got hurt in that match against him and it kind of affected me the rest of the tournament. I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Henderson battled through the injury and won his next consolation match against Virginia Tech’s Zach Neibert before losing his last two matches on the final day of the championships.
The first of those losses, to The Citadel’s Ugi Khishignyam, was Henderson’s first loss in four career matches against him.
“I wrestled him four times in college, and that’s the first time he beat me,” Henderson said. “But he did it when it mattered, at nationals.”
Henderson posted a 37-9 record this season, with half of his losses coming to Edinboro’s Port. He went 13-1 in dual-meet competition, including 5-0 in the ACC. Of his 33 wins, 18 came by major decision, technical fall or pin.
He has a two-year collegiate record of 65-22.
As a freshman, Henderson went 28-13 and reached the NCAA Championships, but he didn’t make any noise there.
Still, the experience of reaching the NCAAs helped him reach All-America status this season.
“It helped tremendously,” he said. “I’d be in the same position if I didn’t wrestle last year. It’s the experience of going to nationals that first year that helped me get All-America this year.”
Henderson’s twin brother, Robert, went 11-9 this season as a redshirt freshman at 149 pounds. He has battled injuries throughout his two years at North Carolina and owns a career record of 12-10. But he’s on the upswing, his brother said.
“He’s had some problems, but he’s been working hard and he’s getting better.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features graduates of area high schools who are performing athletically in college, and it will appear the last Thursday of the month. If you know of someone who could be featured here, contact Mirza Zukic by email or at (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
JANAE DUNCHACK (Dartmouth, track and field): A four-time state champion in the high jump at Northern Cambria High School, Dunchack is now a three-time conference champion in college.
A junior for the Big Green, Dunchack won her third straight individual title in the heptathlon at the Indoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Feb. 23 and 24.
The heptathlon is a daylong competition consisting of five events: the long and high jumps, the 60-meter hurdles, the shot put and the 800-meter run.
Dunchack amassed 3,940 points to outdistance the closest competitor by more than 150 points. She was dominant, finishing first or second in four of the five events.
Dunchack also placed fourth in the high jump at the Indoor Ivy League Championships.
Earlier in the season, she took home the top spot at the Rhode Island Pentathlon on Dec. 7. Dunchack topped the field of 15 competitors with 3,654 points.
In winning the title, Dunchack finished fifth or higher in all five events of the pentathlon. She took first in her specialty event, the high jump, as well as the shot put.
Dunchack and the Big Green also took home the team title at the Dartmouth Relays in January, winning their home meet for the third straight season.
Separate from the pentathlon competition, the versatile Dunchack has competed in a slew of events this season: 60 hurdles, long jump, high jump, 500-meter dash, 200, 4x100 relay, shot put and even javelin.
ANGEL PICCIRILLO (Villanova, track and field): After suffering an injury last summer that cost Piccirillo her freshman cross country season, she enjoyed a strong indoor track season for the Wildcats and capped it by earning a medal at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships three weeks ago.
Piccirillo ran the opening leg of the Wildcats’ distance medley relay team, which placed second at the NCAA Championships on March 8.
The relay, different from most relays in that all the runners don’t run the same distance, is a 4,000-meter race, in which the relay members run distances of 1,200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters, in that order. Piccirillo ran the 1,200-meter leg.
Villanova has a rich history in the event, as the Wildcats’ DMR team that ran a 10:48.38 at the 1988 Penn Relays still holds the women’s world record time in the event, more than 20 years later.
At the Big East Championships two weeks before the NCAA meet, Piccirillo earned three medals.
Individually, she took second in the 1,000-meter run, finishing less than two-tenths of a second behind teammate Emily Lipari. She also ran a leg on the Wildcats’ conference-winning 4x800 relay and the second-place DMR team.
The conference title in the 4x800 was Villanova’s 21st as the Wildcats held off Notre Dame by less than one-tenth of a second.
A Homer-Center graduate, Piccirillo began her collegiate career by winning her first individual collegiate race in December, setting a meet record in the 1,000-meter run at Haverford College’s Jack Pyrah Invitational.
Individually, Piccirillo has competed in the 1,000, 800 and the 1,600 this season, and she has run on the Wildcats’ 4x400, 4x800 and distance medley relay teams.
ALEX WOODROW (Duquesne, track and field): A Marion Center graduate, Woodrow is a distance runner for the Dukes, specializing in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races.
Although he has yet to compete during the outdoor season, Woodrow enjoyed a solid indoor season, posting top-5 finishes in all four meets in which he competed.
The highlight of his indoor season came at the Youngstown State National Invite in early February, when Woodrow took first in the 5,000 in 14:48.09 to help the Dukes take second place at the eight-team meet.
Woodrow opened his sophomore track season with a fourth-place finish in the 5,000 at the Gulden Invitational in January.
A week later, on Jan. 25, he ran a personal-best time of 8:40.37 in the 3,000 and placed fourth at the Youngstown State Invitational.
Woodrow added another fourth-place finish in the 5,000 at the Kent State Tune-Up on Feb. 16 to wrap up his indoor season.
HANNAH HARLEY (Point Park University, softball): An Indiana graduate, Harley has broken into the Pioneers’ starting pitching rotation as a freshman.
She has appeared in five games this season for Point Park (8-6), with three starts. She has a 2-2 record with two complete games and a 3.33 ERA in 21 innings. She also has one save.
Harley ranks second on the team in ERA and opponents’ batting average (.267). She is tied for the team lead in appearances and ranks third in innings pitched.
JEN BEATTY (Bowling Green, swimming): An Indiana native and one of the leaders of the dominant Indiana High girls’ swimming program, Beatty wrapped up her collegiate career earlier this month at the Mid-American Conference Championships.
Beatty swam the third leg of the Falcons’ 800-yard freestyle relay, as the Falcons placed third to score 32 crucial points in the team standings. The Falcons touched the wall in 7:23.87, just missing out on second place by three-tenths of a second and the school-record time of 7:23.27.
Bowling Green finished third in the team standings, behind champion Miami (Ohio) and Ohio University. The Falcons held off Eastern Michigan by 17 points for third place.
Individually, Beatty got through the preliminaries and earned a spot in the consolation final of the 200-yard freestyle, where she took 12th in 1:51.93 to score five more points for the Falcons.
Beatty also competed in the 100 and 200 backstroke at the MAC Championships, narrowly missing the finals in both events.
Beatty specialized in the 200 freestyle and the 100 and 200 backstroke and was consistently Bowling Green’s No. 3 swimmer in both backstroke distances all season. She leaves the program with her name in the record books.
Beatty’s time of 1:51.35 in the 200 freestyle preliminaries at the MAC Championships ranks as the eighth fastest in school history. She also owns the seventh-fastest time in school history in both backstroke distances.
KELLY MUFFLEY (Thiel, basketball): Muffley capped her impressive collegiate career by earning a selection to the Presidents’ Athletic Conference first team last month.
A senior guard, Muffley ranked second on the team and in the conference in scoring this season, averaging 17.3 points per game to finish behind only senior teammate Kelly Barzak (18.1 ppg).
Muffley led the Tomcats and finished fifth in the PAC in 3-point shooting at 37 percent (69-for-187). She led the conference with 2.8 3-pointers per game. She also finished ninth in the conference in rebounding with 6.2 boards per game.
A Saltsburg native, Muffley ended her career as the Tomcats’ all-time career leader in made 3-point field goals (180) and ranks fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,238 points.
She played in 101 of Thiel’s 103 games over the past four seasons, logging 88 starts, and she averaged 12.3 point per game over her career.
Muffley’s selection to the all-conference team was her second. As a junior last season, she earned an honorable mention.
Unfortunately for Muffley, she didn’t experience a great deal of team success during her collegiate career. The Tomcats went 27-76 over the past four seasons, including 8-18 this season.
NATALIE GLINSKY (Juniata, basketball): After playing in every one of Juniata’s 109 games from the start of her freshman season through Feb. 9, Glinsky left the program with less than a month of the regular season remaining and missed the Eagles’ last five games this season.
An Indiana High graduate, Glinsky was a three-year starter for Juniata and made 127 3-point field goals over her career to finish fourth on the Eagles’ career list for 3s made.
A 5-foot-6 senior guard, Glinsky finished with 874 career points and averaged 8.0 points per game. She averaged 7.9 points per game this season.
Juniata went 84-30 over the past four seasons with Glinsky in the mix, including a 26-3 mark in 2011-12 when the Eagle made an appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Glinsky played in 109 games, making 81 starts.
KRISTIN BRICE (Emerson, basketball): Brice emerged as a leader for the Lions in her sophomore season, and her breakout year culminated with a selection to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference second team.
Brice started all 26 games for Emerson (13-13) this season, and she led the team in several categories, including scoring (16.2 ppg), field goal percentage (45.0 percent, 157-for-349), rebounding (8.3) and blocked shots (1.6). She posted seven double-doubles.
Brice’s efforts guided the Lions to a 7-1 record over the last eight regular-season games, a stretch that included a seven-game winning streak and a berth in the GNAC playoffs. The Indiana High graduate had three straight double-doubles during the winning streak.
A 6-foot center, Brice finished the season ranked fourth in the conference in blocked shots and sixth in scoring and rebounding.
OLIVIA RUPP (Mount Aloysius, basketball): A sophomore forward, Rupp has been a regular in the Mounties’ starting rotation since stepping foot on campus.
A Marion Center graduate, she logged 23 starts this season and finished third on the team in scoring for the second straight year with 8.4 points per game. She was also third on the team in rebounding (5.3) and second in field goal percentage (42.2 percent, 70-for-166).
As a freshman, Rupp earned 20 starts and averaged 8.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, ranking third on the team in both categories. She led the team in field goal percentage (43.7 percent, 62-for-142).
With Rupp in the rotation, the Mounties (17-10) won a road playoff game in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference postseason tournament for the first time, and in doing so, advanced to the second round of the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time.
EMILY DAUGHERTY (Lock Haven, basketball): After missing a season due to injury, Daugherty returned this season and averaged 9.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Bald Eagles.
A redshirt sophomore, Daugherty earned 17 starts and averaged 26.8 minutes while appearing in 24 games for Lock Haven (7-19).
She ranked third on the team in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage (39.7 percent) while leading the team in free throw shooting (84.9 percent).
Two seasons into her collegiate career, the Ligonier Valley graduate has 489 points and 239 rebounds in 49 games, which includes 30 starts.
KATEE GRESKO (St. Francis, track and field): Gresko is a freshman middle distance runner for the Red Flash, and she has a top-15 finish to highlight her indoor season.
At the New York Road Runners College Night at the Armory meet in January, she placed 15th in the mile run.
A Penns Manor graduate, Gresko is also a member of the women’s cross country team at St. Francis.
LEAH SKEDEL (St. Francis, track and field): A graduate of United, Skedel is a freshman thrower for the Red Flash.
She opened her outdoor season with a 14th-place finish in the javelin at the Wake Forest Open two weeks ago.
During the indoor season, she competed in the weight throw and shot put, placing in the top 20 in both at the Northeast Conference Championships.