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  • Abbey Peters

The University of Olivet Winter Sports Preview

Men’s Basketball

After finishing last year with a 12-15 overall and 7-7 conference record, the men’s basketball team is preparing for another season of tough competition.

According to coach Sam Hargraves, the Comets will feature a combination of experienced varsity players and a strong recruiting class.

“Noah Wiswary, Ryan Bart, and Drew Weber are our senior captains. They set the tone with their leadership, experience, and overall chemistry,” Hargraves said. Weber is back this season after being sidelined last year with a knee injury.

Hargraves recognized Conner Schipper, Nate Richardson, and Lee Hardy as first-year players that have made an impact so far.

“Conner and Lee give us desperately needed size that we lost from last year, and Nate is one of the smartest young guards I’ve ever been around,” Hargraves said.

“We’ve got several young players that might not see much game time this year but have really bright futures at UO.”

Coach Hargraves said that the team’s overall goals never change from season to season. The Comets are focused on improving each day, hopefully seeing significant gains throughout the entire season. No matter the result, Hargraves said the team will be content with the effort that they have put in.

“Already in the young season, this team has a chemistry and camaraderie that is contagious. We enjoy being around each other every day.”

Hargraves said he loves to watch the team grow closer together as they prepare for the season.

“I’m already dreading the last game, because I’m not going to want this season to end.”

UO begins its regular season on Nov. 11 at the Earlham Tournament against Capital University.

Bowling

The bowling teams are looking to capitalize off a strong recruiting class this season. 20 recruits have joined the team this year, which is UO’s largest recruiting class to date.

“We brought a lot of talent and more importantly, they are good people,” said coach Christopher Jones.

The Comet squads have already competed twice, first at the Warrior Classic on Sep. 30 and then the Cornerstone University Classic on Oct. 21.

The top returners for the women’s team are sophomores Brooklyn Butler and Hannah Ruoff. Butler is a high school state champion, and Jones said both women are highly valuable contributors to the team.

For the men, sophomores Jacob Billiter, Joshua Billiter, and Bryan Carney are key returners. Jones said they have helped to change UO’s momentum as a bowling team.

The bowling team’s goals for the season are simple: compete and win. Jones hopes that the team can start by surpassing local competition, begin defeating MIAA (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) teams, and national level competitors.

“We’re in the early stages of this transition and I couldn’t be happier with the way that the existing players are connecting with our new players. We are on the right track and the future is bright,” Jones said.

Indoor Track and Field

The UO men were fifth in MIAA indoor track last year, while the women took sixth. Coach Karen Lutzke is excited to see how this year’s incoming class will combine with the returning athletes to improve the teams’ performances.

“We are very excited about the 2024 Indoor Track and Field season. With our returners and outstanding freshmen class, we know that we are a much better team than last year,” Lutzke said.

Leading the men will be multiple-time MIAA champion and national qualifier Jordon Brown. Brown’s fellow seniors Hayden Germain, Chris Davis, and Charles Miller will also contribute to the men’s team.

The women’s top returners are Emily Norkowski and London Eldridge, who led the team in scoring last season.

Lutzke believes the improved squad can move up in the MIAA rankings by having more athletes score in each event.

The track and field teams will compete for the first time on Jan. 13 at the Trine University Sean Brady Alumni Invitational.

Women’s Basketball

It’s Peter Sabiiti’s third season coaching the UO women’s basketball team, which finished with a 6-19 overall record last year.

The Comets earned three conference wins last season, including a sweep of Kalamazoo College. The team will open its regular season officially on Nov. 10 at Bluffton University (Ohio).

Swimming and Diving

The UO swimming and diving teams began competition on Oct. 7 at Aquinas. Since then, the Comets have competed in several other meets, including a faceoff with Kalamazoo and Hope on Oct. 27. Erik Richardson is in his second season as the Comet’s coach.

Wrestling

The UO wrestling team, led by fifteenth year coach Brandon Brissette, begins its season on Nov. 3 at the Muskegon Community College Duals. The Comets finished second in the MIAA last season, behind Adrian College.

Senior Donovan King is the team’s top returner. King was voted the 2023 MIAA Most Valuable Wrestler and earned all-MIAA honors.

King was one of Olivet’s four all-MIAA selections last season, along with graduate Kam Bush, junior Tyler Herrema, and graduate Owen Guilford.

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