DARKE COUNTY – A trio of senior athletes who advanced to state are the Daily Advocate’s bowling and wrestling athletes of the year for the 2015-16 season.
Mississinawa Valley’s Joe Teeter has been named The Daily Advocate’s boys bowler of the year, Versailles’ Hannah Niekamp has been named The Daily Advocate’s girls bowler of the year, and Versailles’ Corey Dieringer has been named The Daily Advocate’s wrestler of the year.
Teeter won the first state championship in Mississinawa Valley history when he won the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II boys bowling title. The MV senior rolled games of 216, 276 and 256 for a 748 series, the highest ever for Division II and second highest in state tournament history.
“It’s just been fantastic,” said Mississinawa Valley bowling coach Joe Teeter, who also is Teeter’s father. “It’s certainly a coach’s dream to have a boy that performs as well as he has. He did a lot of growing this year from last year in his self-control, which was a really big plus in his performance.”
Teeter bowled well throughout the entire season with an average of 195.7 per game. He finished fourth in the sectional tournament to qualify for districts and finished sixth at districts to qualify for state.
“He just did so well all the time,” Coach Teeter said. “It’s just been a joy to watch him bowl here the last half of the season. Once he settled in and got comfortable with his game, it’s just been great.”
Teeter was a three-time district qualifier, but he really improved his game this year, Coach Teeter said, because of a new-found confidence.
“His self-control, self-confidence, it was just a tremendous difference,” Coach Teeter said. “You wouldn’t know he was the same kid in some respects just because of how much he’s grown.”
Teeter was welcomed home from his state championship victory with firetrucks, an ambulance and about 50 to 60 cars. He credits his family, school and community for helping him reach his lofty goals of winning state.
“He tells them that it’s their championship, not just his,” Coach Teeter said. “He says that because of the great amount of support he got. The outpouring of support was tremendous.”
Niekamp earned second team all-Ohio honors as she placed ninth individually at the Division II girls bowling state championships.
“Hannah earning all Ohio honors placing ninth at state with a 600 series is a great accomplishment, and I believe Hannah was happy, also,” Versailles bowling coach Tyler Phlipot said. “When you get to state you are bowling with the best bowlers in the state. With Hannah placing ninth at state is the highest individual place for the girls bowling program.”
Niekamp helped lead the Versailles girls bowling team to state for the second time in school history. The Lady Tigers made the state semifinals and finished fourth overall, their best finish in program history.
“For the season Hannah had a great year,” Phlipot said. “For the season Hannah was a great team player and a great leader no matter how bad she was bowling. Hannah’s main goal was to help the team make it to state in which the team achieved that goal, placing fourth as a team, which is the highest finish as a team. At the beginning of the season Hannah didn’t start out liked she would have hoped but did pick it up in the middle of the season.”
Niekamp led all Darke County girls this season with a 178.2 average. She placed 15th at the sectional tournament and seventh at the district tournament with a 639 series, earning all-district honors.
“Hannah has a great work ethic, is a hard worker, and she dedicated herself to the game by bowling many tournaments and a lot of practice during the summer,” Phlipot said. “Hannah is one of those athletes that stay after practice to work on her game and stay until she gets it right. Hannah is very competitive, which gives her the drive to be the best on and off the lanes.”
Dieringer helped lead the Versailles wrestling team to the OHSAA team state tournament for the first time since 2013 and also qualified for the OHSAA individual state tournament.
“This year was his best year,” Versailles wrestling coach A.J. Bey said.
During the individual tournament, Dieringer lost a total of four matches in the sectional tournament, district tournament and state tournament – all to state placers.
He finished as the runner up in the 160 pound class in both the sectional and district tournaments, losing in the championship match both times to eventual state champion Kaleb Romero of Mechanicsburg.
“He was in a tough weight class in our district, actually in our sectional and our district,” Bey said. “He just stayed solid all year and did a great job.”
At state Dieringer won a match, defeating Rittman’s Manuel Garza 11-5 in the first consolation round. He fell just one win shy of placing at state with both of his loses coming to eventual state placers.
No matter how good his opponent was, Dieringer also went in with a workman’s attitude.
“He just tried to win every match, not just lay down and think the other guy was better than him,”
Bey said. “He outworked him.”
Dieringer, who will play college football at Wittenberg next year, will be tough to replace.
“He’s a great kid, and we’re going to miss him next year,” Bey said.