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Freshman Luecke’s composure positively influencing men’s golf

Ethan Luecke (fr) of the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s golf team is providing something for his team that most freshman student-athletes don’t: leadership on and off the course.

Luecke is already an ace golfer at the collegiate level. He spent most of the fall season as one of the Wildcats’ top three golfers.

“You don’t get a lot of freshmen whose skills are so well-developed that young,” teammate Dalton Miller (sr) said. “Usually the difficulty of the course kind of overwhelms you when you first start, but he’s made that transition already.”

Then, there’s Luecke’s confidence and calmness of character that belies his age.

“He’s very mature for his age, and I think that was something that was shown from the beginning to the end [of the season],” teammate Blake Russell (jr) said. “He has wisdom and he’s humble, and you don’t expect that from most freshmen.”

Miller adds that Luecke “never gets rattled,” and said the freshman already has the mental aspect of golf down.

With an excellent golf game combined with a good head on his shoulders, Luecke is off to a promising start for the Wildcats.

Men’s Golf Head Coach Austin Conroy said he loves what Luecke brings to his team. Conroy said one of Luecke’s biggest strengths is his ability to keep the team’s mood from getting too tense, especially when the Wildcats are traveling to and from tournaments.

“He just keeps everybody light,” Conroy said. “We travel in fives, so it gets pretty intimate, and you spend a lot of time with each other, and sometimes get on each others’ nerves. Ethan was always there to joke around and make everybody laugh.”

While Luecke is mostly easy-going, he knows there is a time and place to be serious. Conroy said Luecke can get quite competitive in practice.

“He’s not afraid to challenge someone on the team to nine holes or even a putting challenge,” Conroy said. “He enjoys competition and pushes the other guys to take it up another level in practice, rather than just going through the motions.”

Luecke’s freshman season wasn’t perfect by any means, and he admits it. He said he didn’t take enough initiative in his schoolwork to start the semester, which hindered his performance on the golf course.

“At the beginning of the season, school was just starting and I didn’t have a whole lot on my mind, so I was playing better. As it got closer to the end I had more [work] and it started to pile up,” Luecke said. “But if I spend my time right [in the future], it shouldn’t matter.”

Conroy believes Luecke will improve more in the area of balancing his tasks next semester, and he said he already has seen a more proactive mindset in Luecke this semester.

“We’ll see a lot of growth [from Ethan] next semester,” Conroy said. “I’ve seen him really mature and I’ve seen him take ownership of his responsibilities outside of golf.”

Moving forward, Conroy said he is looking forward to giving Luecke more responsibility in hopes that Luecke can positively impact his teammates even more than he already is.

“I can see him being a leader where he’s not afraid to call out other guys in a loving sort of way,” Conroy said. “But he’s also going to be a big leader by example.”

 

This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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Elenbaas keeps women’s golf moving forward

Haley Elenbaas (jr) and glue have something in common. They both keep things together.

Elenbaas plays for Indiana Wesleyan University’s women’s golf team, the university’s newest intercollegiate squad. The team is just over two years old, with its inaugural season in the fall of 2012. Elenbaas was one of the six freshman golfers who made up Head Coach Julie Wagner’s team that fall.

Elenbaas is one of three juniors who have been with the team since its first year.

Elenbaas is one of three juniors who have been with the team since its first year. (Photo courtesy of IWU Athletic Department)

When Wagner first met Elenbaas in the spring of 2012, she knew Elenbaas would play an important role for her team.

“Haley was playing No. 2 on her high school team, and she played pretty well,” Wagner said. “One of the last things she said to me before she left [for the day] was, ‘I know I’m not a really great golfer, but I’ll work hard and I’ll be a good spiritual leader for your team.’ It just kind of grabbed me.”

Unfortunately, the team still struggled in its first season. With all six of its fall golfers being freshmen, the team lacked upperclassmen leadership. Wagner had also never coached golf before.

“We were all freshmen, we had no idea what to do in college,” Elenbaas said.

Three of the original six golfers are no longer on the team, but three remain: Jessica Pegg (jr), Jessica Meloche (jr) and Elenbaas.

As the team grew more accustomed to college life and athletics, Elenbaas’ leadership started to shine through, especially spiritually. Wagner said this fall was the first season she’s designated players as team leaders.

Who did she choose? Pegg, Meloche and, of course, Elenbaas.

Elenbaas' leadership helped her team qualify for NCCAA Nationals for the first time this fall.

Elenbaas’ leadership helped her team qualify for NCCAA Nationals for the first time this fall. (Photo taken by Hannah Whelchel)

“I can put [Elenbaas] in charge of something, and she’ll do it,” Wagner said. “Our team meets once a week for devotions, and she makes that happen. She makes sure everyone takes a turn to lead as well.”

Kelli Sewell (so) said since she joined the team last fall, she’s seen Elenbaas grow perfectly into her leadership role.

“I’ve seen her grow in sharing her faith, and also in her encouraging other girls to do things outside the course,” Sewell said.

The increased comfort level and accountability within the team has resulted in success on the course. This fall, the Wildcats qualified for the NCCAA National Championship Tournament for the first time in program history by winning the NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament.

Elenbaas said she is happy with the team’s golfing success, but knows there’s a lot more to life than athletics.

“You have to keep God as your first priority, you have to keep school as your second priority and you need relationships with other people too,” Elenbaas said. “Golf can’t be your life — it’s important, it’s enjoyable and a good way to give glory to God, relieve stress and enjoy yourself, but it has to be number three.”

Carley LaPlant (fr) knows Elenbaas’ presence and mentality is a big reason the team has stuck together through the inevitably difficult first few years in a new athletic program.

“She’s a very good role model, person to look up to. You can go to her for anything, with school problems, whatever you need,” LaPlant said. “I describe her as like the glue that keeps the team together.”

 

This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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Wildcats win thriller over St. Francis

Tensions ran high as the No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan University Women’s Basketball Team and No. 8 University of St. Francis Cougars squared off in a Crossroads League showdown at Luckey Arena Saturday, Dec. 6. The game between the past two NAIA Division II National Champion teams went down to the wire, with the Wildcats prevailing 53-50.

Katrina Blackmon (sr) contests Brooke Ridley's (jr) shot. Photo by Lauren Dafoe.

Katrina Blackmon (sr) contests Brooke Ridley’s (jr) shot. Photo by Lauren Dafoe.

Wildcats Assistant Coach Brent Bellinger said the Wildcats’ preparation in practice was intensified for the rivalry game against a team they went 0-3 against last year.

“We work a lot at making sure practice is more difficult, making sure that before games we are mentally where we need to be just so we can focus and do what we need to do on the court,” Bellinger said. “Practices are a lot more [difficult] for us than this so hopefully they can come out here and relax a little bit because it’s not as tough as what we do every day.”

Neither team got off to a good start in the first half, but good defense from the Wildcats resulted in a 29-20 halftime lead. St. Francis shot just 28 percent from the field with 14 turnovers in the first period, while Katrina Blackmon (sr) scored seven points to pace the Wildcats offensively. The half was capped off by a buzzer-beating two-point shot from Teneil Krebs (sr) as time expired.

IWU did not score a single point for the first nine and a half minutes of the second half, a prolonged scoring drought that allowed the Cougars to get back into the game. St. Francis went on a 12-0 run to start the second half and took a 32-29 lead with 12:19 to go in the game.

The Cougars pushed their lead to as large as six points in the second half, but the Wildcats continued to play solid defense and force turnovers while they figured out their offensive struggles. A Chelsea Winner (so) layup with 4:23 to go finally regained the lead for the Wildcats, making the score 47-45.

The final two minutes of the game displayed a frantic series of possessions for both teams. Blackmon and Erika Isham (sr) both fouled out on offensive charging foul calls on back-to-back Wildcat possessions, while the Cougars turned the ball over on their last three possessions of the game. Bellinger said the defense made the difference.

“I think offensively we made a few good plays but really the defense was incredible,” Bellinger said.

Wildcats and Cougars battle for the loose ball. Photo by Lauren Dafoe

Wildcats and Cougars battle for the loose ball. Photo by Lauren Dafoe

Jessica Brown (jr) made three of four free throws in the final minute of play and stole the ball away as time expired to seal the win for the Wildcats by a final score of 53-50.

Cougars Forward Akyah Taylor (jr) led all scorers with 25 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Bellinger said he was impressed with the Wildcats’ defensive effort against one of the leading scorers in the nation.

“When you have a player like Akyah Taylor of St. Francis that can just do anything and everything and you have to play two people on her at all times it takes a lot of focus,” Bellinger said. “I think our girls really did that well at the end on the defensive side.”

The Wildcats improve to 9-1 on the year and remain in first place in the Crossroads League with a 3-0 record in league play. They play next Dec. 12 at the Union Tournament in Barbourville, Ky.

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Krebs’ quiet competitiveness boosting women’s basketball

The Indiana Wesleyan University women’s basketball team doesn’t have a star player this year, according to Head Coach Steve Brooks. The numbers support Brooks’ statement, too. According to the team’s statistics on the IWU Athletic Department website, no one on the team is averaging even 11 points per game this season.

The team does have a star leader, though. And her name is Teneil Krebs (sr).

Krebs uses her quite competitiveness to inspire her teammates.

Krebs uses her quite competitiveness to inspire her teammates. (Photo courtesy of Indiana Wesleyan University Athletic Department)

Krebs, a 5’10” guard, has earned a leadership role on the 8-1 Wildcats partially because of her fierce desire to win.

“She’s a competitor. First and foremost, she’s a competitor. She’s a very achievement-oriented kid,” Brooks said. “You don’t have to come to our practice and stand very long to say, ‘Wow, [number] 24 is all over the place.’”

Guard Jessica Brown (jr) said Krebs isn’t only competitive when playing basketball.

“On the court, she’s competitive, but she’s also competitive in her academics. She’s, like, a 4.0 student, so she’s always striving to be the best she can be,” Brown said. “And she always pushes me to be the best that I can be in all aspects of life.”

And although Krebs is very competitive, Brooks said she isn’t loud about her desire to win. She doesn’t lay into her teammates when they mess up or try to fire up the Wildcats with a rousing talk in the locker room.

“Teneil isn’t going to get up and give a ‘rah-rah’ speech in front of everybody, but she is going to meet you in McConn [Coffee Company] and talk to you one-on-one,” Brooks said. “She is going to be able to build a relationship that her teammates trust and go to her.”

Trustworthiness just may be the characteristic of Krebs that has the biggest impact on her team.

Brooks said the Wildcats sometimes participate in an activity called a “perception test,” where Brooks asks the team questions such as, “Who’s our best three-point shooter?” and each of the players respond with their answer.

When the question of trustworthiness came up, Krebs was the unanimous response.

Krebs' hard work and scrappiness on the court has been helpful for the Wildcats on many occasions.

Krebs’ hard work and scrappiness on the court has been helpful for the Wildcats on many occasions. (Photo courtesy of Indiana Wesleyan University Athletic Department)

“Every one of the kids, every one of them, said Teneil was somebody that I trust, somebody that I would go to to get help with a personal problem, or whatever,” Brooks said.

Brown wasn’t surprised by the results in the slightest.

“She’s one of my best friends. Ever since I’ve come in my freshman year, she’s been someone that I can go to for anything,” Brown said. “It’s not just for basketball, it could be for anything in life.”

In addition to competitiveness and trustworthiness, Krebs also brings a spiritual component to the Wildcats that helps keep the team grounded in faith. Brooks said she is “really sensitive to her own spiritual growth and the growth of her teammates.”

When Krebs graduates, Brown hopes to model the leadership she has shown.

“She is an amazing spiritual leader on our team,” Brown said. “My goal is to be one of the spiritual leaders on the team [next year], and Teneil’s been able to show me how to do that.”

Krebs has her priorities straight, and she hopes her team can continue to keep basketball in its proper place as something important, but not the most important thing in life.

“I just try to lead by example. It comes with the realization that basketball is not our top priority,” Krebs said. “Once we all realize that God is first, then basketball falls in place.”

 

This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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