This special feature is produced for the Boyne City Gazette by sportswriter Chris Graber. Following is an in-depth look at how former high school athletes from around Charlevoix County are doing in sports at the college and university level.
Zach Hankins (Charlevoix 2015) is leading the NCAA Div. II No. 2 Ferris State University men’s basketball program (35-1) into contention for a national championship and collected postseason awards in the process.
An All-American, standing at 6-foot-11, Hankins most recent dominance led the Bulldogs to clinch the Div. II Midwest Regional Championships title in an 80-65 triumph at home against Div. II No. 13 University of Findlay (28-5) on March 13 in Big Rapids.
In the outing, the junior produced 12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two assists in collecting his 19th double-double of the season en route to being named Div. II Midwest Regional Player of the Year.
Averaging 15 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, he secured Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year and all-conference first team on March 2.
On March 3, he provided 15 points with two rebounds, two assists and one steal in the conference semi-finals in an 85-66 victory at home against Ashland University (20-10).
He followed by delivering 13 points with 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and one steal in the title game at home in a 69-61 triumph against Lake Superior State University (25-8) as the Bulldogs received an automatic bid to compete in the regional championships tournament.
FSU is three wins away from a national title and holds a 3-0 record in postseason tournament play.
The Bulldogs hosted all three contests.
Hankins delivered 16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and one assist ina 75-67 victory in the opening round against Ohio Dominican University (20-11) on March 10.
In the semi-finals on March 11, he followed by collecting 18 points, 18 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one steal in a 94-71 triumph against LSSU.
For his career, he’s the school record holder in field goal percentage (65.2 percent) and blocks (312).
He’s No. 5 in rebounds (831) and No. 21 in scoring (1,185 points).
Hannah Hoth (Boyne City 2016) delivered two RBIs, scored two runs and batted 3-for-4 at catcher for the Lansing Community College softball program (8-3) in a 17-9 triumph at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (4-22) on March 9 in Andalusia, Alabama. For the season, the sophomore’s batting .361 with two doubles, one home run and 13 RBIs. She’s also scored six runs.
Derek Willis (Boyne City 2016) is a sophomore pitcher for Alma College, which improved to 5-2 overall after clinching a 3-1 victory at home against Hanover College (3-9) on March 11 in Alma.
Corey Redman (Boyne City 2015) scored three points after finishing 1-for-1 from beyond the 3-point line at guard for Central Michigan University (20-14) in a 94-89 victory at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (18-15) on March 12 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
For the season, the junior’s registered 33 appearances.
MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD
Winter Romeyn (Ellsworth 2015) is a junior distance runner for Michigan State University, which returns to action at the North Carolina State University Raleigh Relays from March 30-31 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In his most recent outing, he collected 12th in the mile at the Big Ten Conference Championships with a time of 4:12.49 from Feb. 23-24 in Geneva, Ohio. Among the 12 teams, the Spartans ended 11th.
For the season, Romeyn holds top performances in the 800-meter run and mile of 1:55.98 and 4:10.65, respectively.
Noah Carson (Charlevoix 2017) holds a season-best time of 1:58.6 in the 800-meter run for NCAA Div. II No. 7 Grand Valley State University, which captured a sixth-place finish at the Div. II Indoor National Championships from March 9-10 in Pittsburg, Kan.
Nick Plude (Charlevoix 2016) is a sophomore distance runner for Saginaw Valley State University, which collected 26th among the 56 teams at the NCAA Div. II Men’s Indoor National Championships.
In his most recent effort, he finished 20th in the 800-meter run at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships with a time of 2:03.03.
For the season, he holds top performances in the 800-meter run and mile of 1:57.86 and 4:30.62, respectively.
Jared McLean (Charlevoix 2017) adds additional local depth at sprints for Saginaw Valley State University.
Nick Snabes (Charlevoix 2014) is a senior distance runner for Otterbein University, which opens the outdoor portion of the season at the University of Charlotte 49er Classic from March 15-17 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In his most recent outing, he clinched an event title with the 4,000-meter distance medley relay at the Ohio Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 10:21.97 from Feb. 23-24 in Columbus.
In the competition, he added a fourth-place finish in the 1,000-meter run (2:36.29) en route to leading the Cardinals to place fourth among the field of 10 teams.
For the season, he turned in season-best efforts in the 800-meter run and mile of 2:01 and 4:31.95, respectively.
Nathaniel Veldboom (Ellsworth 2014) is a senior sprinter for Calvin College, which resumes competition at the Island Meet on March 23 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The Knights enter the outdoor portion of the season with momentum from winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Indoor Championships on Feb. 24 in Angola, Indiana.
In the competition, Veldbooom ended 22nd in the 200-meter dash with a season-best time of 26.37 seconds.
For the season, he added other top performances in the 800 and 1,000-meter runs of 2:04.44 and 2:54.03, respectively.
Annie Fila (Harbor Light Christian 2014) scored her first run of the year at outfielder for Cornerstone University (5-7) in a 10-2 triumph against Hannibal-LaGrange University (1-13) on March 10 in Clermont, Florida. For the season, the senior’s batting .200 with one stolen base.
WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD
Amber Way (Charlevoix 2015) is a junior distance runner for Michigan State University, which opens the outdoor portion of the year at the North Carolina State University Raleigh Relays from March 30-31 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In her most recent performance, she clinched 18th in the 3,000-meter run at the Big Ten Conference Championships with a time of 10:05.58 from Feb. 23-24 in Geneva, Ohio.
For the season, she holds a top performance in the 3,000-meter run of 9:49.37.
Kayla Keane (East Jordan 2015) is a junior distance runner for the University of Michigan, which returned to action at the University of Miami Hurricane Invitational from March 16-17 in Miami, Florida. Results were not available at the time of press. For the season, Keane holds a top performance in the 3,000-meter run of 10:01.98.
Kylie Hicks (Boyne City 2014) is a junior sprinter for NCAA Division II No. 1 Grand Valley State University, which placed eighth at the Div. II Indoor National Championships from March 9-10 in Pittsburg, Kan.
For the season, the senior delivered top performances in the 300-meter run and with the 4×400-meter relay of 42.08 seconds and 4:08.2, respectively.