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Summer Update: Mt. Vernon

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FORTVILLE — Despite the fact that his team can’t conduct two-a-days and that his overall practice time has been cut, Doug Armstrong isn’t budging from his strength training roots.

“I guess I’m too stubborn to give up on the importance of … I don’t want our football practice time to go in place of our weightlifting,” said the second-year MV football coach. “I’m still sold on getting stronger and doing conditioning. We’re trying to keep that as our main focus.”

Armstrong said there wasn’t an adjustment period after taking the MV job in March of 2011. He credited his players for buying in immediately and cited a trio of rising senior running backs for assuming leadership roles and backing up their talk with being constantly present at practice.

“Tyler Dicks, Kameryn Risper and Anthony Burnett have been really solid for us all summer,” Armstrong explained. “They have 100 percent attendance and their work ethic is very good.”

Four more seniors have also caught Armstrong’s eye: linemen Nick Smoot and Brandon Lindman as well as Andy Spears and Cody Baker. The latter two are going to be leaned on as defensive leaders.

Sophomore two-way players Lucas Rice (lineman), Dan Werner (receiver/linebacker) and Gabe Estes (fullback/linebacker) will be “key factors” for the Marauders according to Armstrong, who will continue to stick to his philosophy of fitness before football terminology.

“We get the other stuff as we can. I just don’t want to spend my whole summer running plays,” he said. “I want to build strength and stamina. If we get that done, we’ll be OK.”

Fresh faces abound for girls’ soccer

Casey Dodd is frank about the current state of his team, which loses seven seniors from a 2011 unit that went 12-4-1 and bowed out in the sectional semifinals to Greenfield-Central.

“We’re going to have a lot of adjustments this year because of how young we’re going to be,” offered Dodd, heading into his seventh season as coach.

The Marauders will especially miss the services of forward Kristina Voltz, who was credited with a Hancock County-best 22 goals last season, as well as forward Suzy DeWael, author of 11 goals and a team-high eight assists. Also departed are the defensive tandem of Courtney Hannemann and Holly Owens, who were team captains and will play at Kaskaskia College (Ill.) this fall. All four were All-Hoosier Heritage Conference selections.

However, a surplus of young talent remains. Sophomore goalkeeper Olivia Coleman returns to fortify a defense that will get a boost from a pair of freshmen: Carrie Hannemann (Courtney’s younger sister) and Emily McNab. Fellow rookie Blaire Biehweg will aid the midfield corps. Junior Lauren Bradburn’s USF Real team captured the President’s Cup on the summer club circuit, and she could contribute in the midfield.

Dodd hopes to fulfill a twofold purpose when he and his team attend a team camp at Anderson University at the end of this month.

“It’s a chance to get out there and be exposed to some college coaches. At the same time, you’re going to be with your team for more than 24 hours during the duration of the camp,” explained Dodd, who added that MV has been training three to four days a week. “You really have a chance to build a lot of chemistry. That’s one of the big things we’re looking for.”

Marauder boys’ hoopsters have early leg up

While there’s still over four months standing between boys’ basketball fans and the start of the 2012-13 season, one Hancock County team appears to have an edge over the other three teams by default. Mt. Vernon will return four starters this season — CJ Coleman, Stephen Turner, Burnett and Werner — from a unit that went 13-8 and lost to eventual 3A state champion Guerin Catholic in its sectional opener. Eastern Hancock and New Palestine experienced substantial senior exodus and Greenfield-Central’s struggles are well-documented.

The challenge for coach Steve Lynch will be finding the necessary parts to complement his experienced foursome.

“We’ve got to find some guys in the rotation that can help give us some depth. We’re looking for those guys,” said Lynch, who will be in his seventh season pacing the sidelines for MV come November. “Between sports and other activities we just didn’t see as many of those kids in the summer, so we really have to find somebody in November to step into those other spots.”

The Marauders played what Lynch called their “usual” summer schedule in June — a Warren Central league, the Carmel Shootout mixed in with a handful of scrimmages.

Lynch, a former Ball State assistant, was content with the summer performances of each of his core four, but akin to his football foil, Lynch singled out Burnett for praise.

“Anthony being a three year starter just gives us a great competitive advantage. I think he’s going to be great on the football field as well as the basketball court,” offered Lynch, who is 79-50 during his time in Fortville. “He’s such competitor and I know (MV football coach) Doug Armstrong is real fired up about his leadership.”

Citing satisfaction over the amount of basketball played in June and that his players simply “need the time,” Lynch has shut down black-and-gold basketball operations for July.

“They’ve got four weeks to be kids. I think a kid needs to be a kid,” Lynch commented. “We gave them basically the whole month of July either to prep for a fall sport or have time off.”

Britt basks in Spain’s success, looks to fill leadership void

The European Championships, arguably soccer’s second-most revered tournament, recently came to a conclusion. The end result saw Spain complete an unprecedented run of winning three major international tournaments in a row: the 2008 Euros, the 2010 World Cup and by virtue of a 4-0 drubbing of Italy in the finals, the Spanish claimed back-to-back European titles.

Count Mt. Vernon boys’ soccer coach Aaron Britt among those impressed by La Furia Roja, whose ball-control style works perfectly with its group of unselfish, technically proficient footballers.

“Everything’s so close with little small passes,” said Britt, an enthusiast of the German squad that bowed out in the semifinals to Italy. “(Spain) was dominating, there’s no other way to explain it. It was ridiculous.”

Success in the soccer world was not limited to Spain, however. One of Britt’s returning players, junior Mouhamed Konate, enjoyed prosperity at the club level this summer as his U16 team from Carmel won the Indiana state tournament and advanced to regionals.

Other Marauders experiencing club success were juniors Jacob Luke and Aaron Gilpin and sophomore Braxton Ratekin, who won the Challenge Cup title with USF Real U16. And Shane DeWael, a junior, was on the USF Real U17 squad that was runner-up for the Challenge Cup.

Much will be expected from Konate, who led the team with 17 goals last season, and others in order to counteract the loss of longtime team leaders and defensemen Eric Ahonen and Luke Fimreite. The departure of that duo has convinced Britt to take his time picking the next edition of team captains.

 “We had constant leadership with Eric Ahonen and Luke Fimreite. They were our leaders every year that they were on varsity, they were mainstays,” said Britt, entering his 12th season at MV and fourth as head coach. “It was dominant leadership. They were really involved and demonstrative.”

A contingent of forthcoming seniors will attempt to fill Ahonen and Fimreite’s shoes. Britt mentioned that defenseman Cole Justus, midfielder Kyle Cansler and goalkeeper Corban Hartley, players who have contributed to the varsity team, could potentially take command of the squad.

“I’m cautiously optimistic at this point because I think (both the juniors and seniors) are starting to take on roles. It’s a role that takes some maturity,” explained Britt, whose team fell to New Palestine in the sectional semifinals last fall. “That’s something we’re going to continue to focus on because it’s been a really young group over the last year or two. I’m hoping they can those extra steps and take a leadership role, not necessarily by example but some positive, vocal leadership.”

Roster turnover means Muterspaugh has hands full

This time last year, Gabe Muterspaugh was staring at about the same roster as he did in the summer of 2010. By the end of autumn, the veteran coach of the Mt. Vernon tennis programs was hoisting his fifth sectional championship trophy as the head of the boys’ program, the first for the Marauder Men since 2006.

That comforting feeling will be a bit more elusive in 2012.

Gone are seniors Kendall Ryan (No. 2 singles) — now playing at Wabash — as well as Reid Eberhard (No. 3 singles), Jake Shephard and Zak Weaver (No. 1 doubles). Coupled with the advent of balanced scheduling, MV won’t be conducting their usual two-a-day practice schedule. The varsity newcomers will be subjected to a quick learning curve.

“These younger guys are going to be thrown to the wolves pretty quick,” said the 17th-year coach, “but they’ve been playing a lot of tennis so I’m not too concerned.”

Muterspaugh hopes to fill a vacated doubles’ position with the 2011 junior varsity doubles tandem of seniors Andrew Noble and Chandler Hines. Last season’s No. 2 doubles team, senior Corey Beck and junior Ben Bobb, could stay at doubles or be split up to fill the vacant No. 2 and No. 3 singles slots. Senior Bryce Bobb has a hold on the No. 1 singles position.

“We’ve got a lot of good athletes,” offered Muterspaugh, the owner of 13 combined boys’ and girls’ tennis sectional championships. “It’ll be fun to figure it out.”

With the Wimbledon Championships ongoing and in the semifinal stage on the men’s side, Muterspaugh offered his pick to prevail in perhaps the most prestigious of tennis’ four majors.

“My heart wants (Roger) Federer,” Muterspaugh said. “My head says (Novak) Djokovic and nobody’s touching him.”

Two worlds exist in Maurauder cross country

It’s a tale of two squads for Mt. Vernon cross country.

The girls’ team returns some experienced runners (Elizabeth Cook, Samantha Sanders, Micaela Elmore, to name a few) while the hope for success of the boys could be heavily hinged on the talents of two freshmen (Brisco Woods, Brandt True).

Coach Bruce Kendall isn’t quite sure about the makeup of his squads yet, as team workouts aren’t quite in full swing and some of the arranged team get-togethers were quelled by the extreme heat.

Both Marauder units reached semistate last season. That feat could be tough to duplicate for the boys, but Kendall feels good about the chances of his girls’ team.

“It’s a solid team, it’s probably the best girls’ team we’ve had back since I don’t remember when,” Kendall said. “We don’t have superstars but collectively they’re all pretty solid.”

Look for complete fall sports previews beginning in August in the Daily Reporter. The Hancock County Football Preview special section will be published Aug. 16. 

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