McKendree women’s bowling coach captures title at PWBA regional event
McKendree University women’s bowling coach Shannon O’Keefe turned in a solid performance on Saturday in winning the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Central Region event held at Pro Bowl West in Fort Wayne, Ind.
O’Keefe scorched the lanes for a 229.5 average in her eight-game block, collecting 1,836 pins in the process. She defeated the runner-up in the event, Jodi Woessner from Ohio, by 97 pins.
“Any time you can get on the lanes and compete, it’s a good thing,” said O’Keefe. “You can practice a lot to make your game better, but there is nothing that can simulate tournament conditions like bowling in a head-to-head format. I’m grateful and blessed to be able to compete at the level that I want to, and a victory like this is just icing on the cake.”
O’Keefe also stressed the importance of her performance over the weekend as a learning experience on a coaching level as she begins her second season of leading the Bearcats’ program.
“When you’re on the lanes, you are able to visualize a lot of scenarios,” said O’Keefe. “As I see these situations, it reminds me of the things we try to stress to our team members. They talk about situations and condition adjustments they see when they are bowling for McKendree, and it makes everything very relatable. This only helps me grow as a coach and teacher.”
The victory at the PWBA Central Region event kicks off a busy summer season on the lanes for O’Keefe. She will head to Japan next week to compete in the PBA International-World Bowling Tour Round 1 World Open in Tokyo. After her overseas trip, O’Keefe will have a full slate of tournaments during the inaugural season of the PWBA Tour.
SIUE’s Coomer finalist for Austin Peay AD spot
ESouthern Illinois University Edwardsville Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs Jason Coomer has been identified as a finalist for the athletics director position at fellow Ohio Valley Conference member Austin Peay.
Coomer is one of four finalists for the position. Austin Peay’s search for a new AD began in April when Derek van der Merwe was promoted within the University. APSU is scheduled to begin interviewing candidates in early July.
“Like all of our family members here at SIUE we want Jason to reach his full potential,” SIUE Director of Athletics Brad Hewitt said. “He is qualified and deserving of the opportunity. It would be a significant loss for our department, but a great step for Jason.”
Originally hired at SIUE in October 2008, Coomer has been the Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Affairs since 2012 and has been active in nearly every area of Cougar Athletics. He has direct oversight of SIUE’s corporate partnership program, marketing, ticketing, licensing, sports information, and broadcasting. Coomer serves as the program administrator for men’s basketball, wrestling, and men’s and women’s tennis.
Coomer oversaw the launch of SIUE’s first-ever online merchandise store – shopsiuecougars.com. SIUE enjoyed a record-setting year in royalties through merchandising in 2015. In FY14, merchandise royalties increased by 18 percent, yielding a total retail impact of $674,000. Coomer has been very active in promoting the sales of SIUE merchandise to local and national retailers with SIUE licensing revenue hitting an all-time high during his tenure.
A former student-athlete, Coomer played tennis and completed his undergraduate degree at Southern Indiana. He holds a master’s in sports management from The Ohio State University. In 2013, Coomer completed the prestigious Sports Management Institute (SMI) executive training program.
The three other finalists for the position are Ryan Ivey, athletic director at Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dr. Roderick D. Perry, deputy director of athletics at Wright State University, and Jim Sarra, deputy director of athletics at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
LU-Belleville swimming, bowling teams join Mid-South Conference
Lindenwood University-Belleville Director of Athletics Scott Spinner has announced that the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams and the men’s and women’s bowling teams will become affiliate members in the Mid-South Conference beginning in 2015-16.
Eric Ward, the commissioner of the Mid-South Conference, announced that the Mid-South Conference Council of Presidents approved the addition of LU-Belleville in the two sports.
“The Mid-South Conference is very honored to add Lindenwood University-Belleville as a new Affiliate Member for men’s and women’s swimming and bowling,” says Ward. “The Mid-South is rapidly becoming one of the most well-represented and well-respected NAIA conferences for both swimming and bowling, and the addition of LU-Belleville only helps solidify our reputation and standing in those sports among NAIA conferences.”
“Besides adding strength and numbers to our conference in those two sports, this also gives our other member schools an opportunity to develop non-conference relationships with LU-Belleville’s other varsity sport teams,” added Ward. “We are excited about their membership and look forward to having their student-athletes and coaches compete for Mid-South Conference Championships and earn individual conference academic and athletic honors and recognition.”
The swimming and diving teams just completed their first season of competition under head coach, Mandy Chun. The Lynx will be one of seven schools to compete in swimming in the MSC, joining Bethel (Tenn.), Campbellsville, Cumberlands, Life, Lindsey Wilson, and St. Catharine.
The bowling program is coming off a historic season, in which the men’s team competed in the United State Bowling Congress (USBC) Nationals for the first time in program history. Competing as an independent last season, this will mark the first time they will compete in a conference. The Lynx will compete in the ten-team MSC, joining Bethel (Tenn.), Campbellsville, Cumberland, Cumberlands, Life, Lindsey Wilson, Pikeville, St. Catharine, and Union.
Wheeler joins Cougars men’s basketball team
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball head coach Jon Harris has announced the addition of Connor Wheeler, of Carbondale, to the men’s basketball roster.
Wheeler, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 180-pound guard, comes to SIUE from John A. Logan Community College. He spent two separate seasons with the Volunteers.
“We are thrilled to have Connor join our program,” Harris said. “He plays the game with poise and he understands what it means to run a team.”
As a freshman during the 2012-2013 season at John A. Logan, Wheeler averaged 8.6 points per game in 29 games. He led the team with 4.4 assists per game and grabbed 2.8 rebounds per contest. As a sophomore last season, Wheeler played in 34 games, averaging 5.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He again led the team in assists with 3.3 per game.
“Connor is a capable scorer, but he maintains his ability to get the ball where it needs to go,” Harris added.
A two-time All-State selection, three-time All-South choice, and a three-time All-Conference pick, Wheeler played three seasons at Carbondale High School before moving to DuQuoin High School as a senior. He scored 1,534 points in his high school career. He started all 118 games during that time.
Wheeler’s Father Wendell was the longtime head basketball coach at DuQuoin High School and is the school’s all-time winningest coach. His mother Kim (Davis) graduated from SIUE and played one season of softball for the Cougars in 1987. She is now the head softball coach at Carbondale High School. Sister Macie is a sophomore at Saint Louis and a member of the Billiken softball team.
Bearcats’ Goetze earns NCAA Division II degree completion award
McKendree University senior softball player Susan Goetze has been chosen by the NCAA as a recipient of its NCAA Division II Degree-Completion Award.
Goetze, a senior elementary education major from Green Valley, was one of 82 NCAA Division II student-athletes, and one of four student-athletes from a Great Lakes Valley Conference institution, to be chosen to receive the award. The Division II Degree Completion Award program provides financial assistance to deserving student-athletes with the completion of their first baccalaureate degree. She is also the second McKendree student-athlete to receive the award after former softball student-athlete Caitlin Stredde received the award in 2014.
“We’re excited to have another one of our student-athletes earn this award,” said former head softball coach Evelyn Bean. “Susan is a very strong student and has a great work ethic. She is a very deserving recipient of the award and will definitely make the most of this opportunity.”
Goetze made 64 career appearances, starting in 36, and has posted a record of 13-28 with one save, and 188 strikeouts. She was also a three-time Academic All-GLVC honoree, and a two-time NFCA Scholar-Athlete. She was also a GLVC Council of Presidents’ Academic Excellence Award honoree after the 2015 season.
The NCAA Division II Degree Completion Program was established in 2001 to provide deserving student-athletes financial assistance for them to complete their first baccalaureate degree. Candidates are student-athletes who have exhausted their athletics eligibility and have received athletics financial aid. The selection process for the national award emphasizes the academic performance of the student-athlete, as well as financial circumstances, athletic achievement, involvement in campus and community activities, and a personal essay.
To date, nearly $4 million has been given to approximately 1,000 deserving student-athletes. Of those student-athletes who have received the award since its inception, 94 percent have earned their undergraduate degree using this program.
SWIC’s Buenger joins SIUE baseball team
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville baseball head coach Tony Stoecklin has announced an addition to the Cougar baseball program. Conner Buenger. of Florissant, Missouri, has transferred to SIUE from Southwestern Illinois College.
Buenger, a six-foot, 185-pound right-handed pitcher, will be a junior and have two years of eligibility left at SIUE.
The three-sport athlete while at Lutheran North High School, compiled a record of 11-6 over two seasons at Southwestern Illinois College, where he was an All-Conference selection in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference (GRAC).
“He had an outstanding year this spring at SWIC,” Stoecklin said. “He was dominating in GRAC play.”
He was 6-3 with a team-best 2.85 earned run average in 13 starts as a sophomore. Buenger led the team with 45 strikeouts in a team-high 72.2 innings pitched, while tossing two complete game shutouts. He was 5-3 as a freshman with 3.16 ERA in 10 starts. He struck out 39 batters in 50 innings pitched and added two complete games, one of which was a shutout.
“He pitched well in a good junior college conference where every team has four or five, and maybe more Division I hitters in their lineup,” Stoecklin said. “He will compete on the mound. He is OVC-ready right now.”
Buenger played four years of baseball, four years of soccer, and two years of football at Lutheran North. He was 5-2 with a 1.18 ERA as a senior in 2013, when he finished fourth in St. Louis area with 92 strikeouts. He led the team with 11 starts and 65 innings pitched. Buenger also hit .371 with 10 doubles, a home run, and 15 RBIs that year.
“It’s nice to bring in someone from SWIC and it is great to keep a St. Louis kid close to home,” Stoecklin added.